Blog. 19 July 2021


By Shannon Edwards.

Everyone loves a spa day. But perhaps it’s time to start turning those spa days into extended wellness adventures. Hearing about some of this travel influencer’s unique experiences will surely convince you: from immersing herself in the serenity of an active monastery during a wellness retreat in Old Quebec, Canada, to lounging in an outdoor Gondola sauna in St Moritz, Switzerland, she certainly is the Spa Travel Gal.

Ava Roxanne Stritt is recognized for being one of the most influential figures for luxury spa and wellness travel.

Her knowledge and experience, however, deems her worthy of the title of global expert. A strong believer in the long-term benefits a spa trip can have on one’s overall sense of wellness, Ava lives by the motto: “spa travel and skincare experiences are not just a luxury, but essential to a healthy body, mind and spirit.”

Ava Roxanne Stritt, aka Spa Travel Gal, has been working as an international travel writer, luxury travel influencer, and brand ambassador for the past 12 years. Having visited numerous spas around the globe, she knows exactly what sets exceptional spas apart from others. Ava’s 72K followers are afforded an insider view into her enviable exploration of the world’s most luxurious spas via her beautifully-captured content on social media, and powerful, transportive travel writing on her website.

Ava has always been passionate about wellness, particularly high-level skincare. With the launch of Twitter in 2009 – its small print enquiring “what’s on your mind?” – Ava realized all she could ever really think about was going to the spa. In 2010, Ava created her Instagram account, and the Spa Travel Gal brand became a reality. After 6 years of balancing her full-time role as a financial analyst with her newfound career rooted in her love for spa and wellness travel, Ava quit her job and devoted herself fully to the latter.

While peers advised her to start small, visiting all the spas in her own region and building from there, Ava had her sights set high, and dreamed of exploring international spas. Ava was lucky to attain such a dream, with her first press trip being out of United States. She has since skyrocketed on her social media accounts. Now featured as one of the Top Travel Influencers of 2021, Ava is often asked what makes a good influencer, and her answer remains the same: “Don’t do what everyone else is doing, do what works for you. Decide what it is you love and be authentic.”


Tethered closely to her motto – that spa travel experiences are essential to maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit – Ava’s passion is for bringing home moments and memories rather than tangible artefacts. A travel memory remains a part of its host forever. This, especially, is the case when it comes to spa getaways, which have the power to enrich one’s life and sense of well-being long after arriving home – if done right. To Ava, spa getaways are a way to “truly take a moment to relax, to do something good for yourself,” which includes eating well-balanced meals, exercising and engaging in meditative practices alongside traditional pampering.

Ava is careful to choose spa destinations that she is sure will further her along in her own wellness journey. So, what criteria do spas need to meet to be on her radar? First and foremost, Ava loves luxury. Additionally, if a spa provides her with knowledge of the brand of products used, that’s an added plus. Finally, Ava is always searching for her next never seen before – a one-of-a-kind spa travel experience with a treatment that is completely unique to them.

As someone who has been to a host of spas and wellness retreats, Ava has come up with a way to distinguish the mediocre from the extraordinary. As an alternative to the cliché nature of the “Bucket List” – which morbidly suggests its maker can “kick the bucket” once they’ve ticked off their final must-see or must-do – Ava has devised a phrase of her own invention. The “Goblet List” outlines unique luxury experiences that, even once completed, remain deeply engrained in one’s memory, urging them to do it all over again. The few spas that have managed to snag a spot on Ava’s Goblet List should be regarded as true pinnacles of luxury. As Ava says herself: “You know if I go back on my own, or if I buy it on my own, you need to be buying it and going to it.”

Three health resorts are pinned at the top of Ava’s goblet list: Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz, Switzerland, and Golden Door in San Diego, California. Ava regards Canyon Ranch as one of the most authentic and truest wellness retreats in the United States. Perfectly combining luxury with health and wellness, the resort offers life-changing pathway programmes. During her stay, Ava undertook the lifestyle reset programme, which is customized based on what each particular guest is hoping to get out of it. In this programme, one has the chance to get more active or even meet with a medical professional such as a dietician to completely transform their eating habits. If you’re wanting a spa retreat among some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, California’s Golden Door is the place for you. Notorious for being one of the most iconic spas in the world, Ava notes that approximately 80% of Golden Door’s guests are a “somebody.”

The true crème de la crème, however, is none other than Badrutt’s Palace. Similar to most European spa getaways, Badrutt’s Palace is about much more than simply receiving a massage and a facial; it emphasises hydrotherapy sessions and sauna treatments in its converted outdoor Gondolas.

Yet, funnily enough, the moment that Ava knew it was the most extravagant spa she had entered, was when she cast her eyes upon the leather-encrusted Nespresso coffee machines – all of which had been custom-designed for the hotel. This, combined with the sight of European guests holding poodles draped in cashmere sweaters, and indulging in the finest food and drink, made her realize that she had reached the ultimate echelons of luxury.

Ava Roxanne Stritt loves providing others with her top spa travel tips and recommendations. Being asked “Where should I go”?, and, “What should I do?”, however, isn’t enough for her to deliver a valuable response. Even if you’re not clued up on the intricacies of spa culture, all she needs to know is firstly, what your interests are; secondly what you’re looking to get out of the experience; and lastly, what your budget is. When the time comes for your spa getaway to begin, Ava’s best advice is to ask questions, and trust that you are in good hands.

Apart from being a passionate spa and wellness expert, Ava also has a deep love and appreciation for the natural world and all of its creatures. When asked where she hopes to visit next, Ava spoke at length about the wonders of Mashpi Lodge, a luxurious eco-lodge situated in the heart of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. The lodge’s spa, complete with a large glass window, has a stunning view of the Mashpi forest below, allowing guests an immersive-indoor outdoor experience while they are receiving their treatment. Ava dreams of receiving a massage in this very spot, accompanied by the sound of waterfalls and sight of hummingbirds dashing from one treetop to the next.

After an unpredictable year characterised by deep uncertainty and stress, travelers are increasingly seeking out meaningful, balancing travel experiences centred on long-term healing. Ava is confident that the luxury spa and wellness sector is set to benefit from this. The Spa Travel Gal is sure to play an influential role in encouraging such healing, as she continues to share her favourite unique experiences and top spa travel tips with the world.


Article originally appeared on: Beau Monde Travaler 

Shannon Edwards

Shannon Edwards is a freelance writer and visual storyteller based in Durban, South Africa. Having been captivated by her personal travels around South Africa and Europe, Shannon’s editorial focus now centers on creating inspiring written and visual travel content, with a particular focus on the great outdoors, eco-tourism, wellness travel and oenotourism.