just published: mayan journey

AsiaSpa - Mayan JoureyIf last December’s prevailing wisdom had held true you wouldn’t be reading this. The storied Mayan calendar was famously closing in on the winter solstice and the end of its 144,000-day cycle. Interpreters of the calendar – and a host of New Age conspiracy theorists – predicted the date would coincide with a global cataclysm. Good thing nobody held their breath, because the Maya believed in the cyclical nature of things. The end of the calendar didn’t presage the end of the world; it marked a new beginning.  Call it a transition or period of renewal, but the Maya believed in the necessity of an epochal timeout before moving forward.  Spanish conquistadors might have brought about that break sooner than expected – subjugating the people by the end of the 17th century – yet descendants of the Maya continue to form sizable populations throughout Mexico’s Yucutan peninsula. Plus, many of their cities and ceremonial sites still remain. The wisdom of these ancient Americans hasn’t been lost. It’s laying patiently in wait for a Mayan journey of rediscovery. READ MORE.

Share

friday flashsback: unwinding in san diego

Screen-shot-2012-07-16-at-10.14.39-PMWith year-round perfect climate and unparalleled natural beauty, Southern California provides the ideal backdrop for rekindling the spirit and pampering the body.  The recent worldwide spa explosion is exemplified in San Diego,which boasts a bevy of spas with top-of-the-line treatments, first-class services and indulgent amenities.  These luxurious escapes can be found throughout the region nestled against the dramatic Pacific coastline, perched high above the glittering downtown skyline, tucked into the Cuyamaca Mountains and set amidst the serenity of  lush inland canyons. Get ready to soothe your senses, inspire your soul, invigorate your step and energize your spirit. They don’t call this the Sunshine State for nothing. READ MORE (pdf download)

Share

from the archives: massage of a lifetime

Mandarin Oriental Central Park view

High above Columbus Circle in Manhattan, the Mandarin Oriental has an over-the-top spa with spectacular views of Central Park. And while raising the bar for service and ambiance, it is also raising the bar on what the market will bear for a simple rubdown. With the recent surge of affordable qi gong joints popping up all over major cities — not to mention practically every nail salon now offering to rebalance your chakras for $20 — you’d be hard-pressed to pay more than $100 bucks for an hour of qualified deep-tissue attention. Even nearby, high-end day retreats such as Bliss and Sanctuary top out at $200 for a hot stone or lomi-lomi massage. However, in the rarified world of the Mandarin-in-the-sky, a no-frills massage will set you back about a cool $500. Read more HERE.

Share

from the archives: jackson hole strikes a balance

spring creek ranch

Jackson Hole strikes that rare balance between nature and nurture. And for a town of such diminutive proportions that’s better known for its high-octane winter sports than its sedate summers, that’s surprising. But don’t question it; embrace it, and you’ll be richly rewarded by this incredibly scenic little corner of Wyoming. Jackson – the central town in the Jackson Hole valley – is tiny and encircled by the Grand Tetons, the youngest of the Rocky Mountain ranges, in what was once considered frontier territory. Yet one of the many myths it shatters is that size is an accurate reflection of quantity and quality. It’s not. Though the year-round population is a shade under 9,000, the spa choices alone are enough to make you do a double take: organic body treatments at the new LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the ultimate eco-friendly accolade) Hotel Terra‘s rooftop Chill Spa; local ingredients like mesquite-tree powder, sagebrush and red-clay mud put to good use in massages at Spring Creek Ranch‘s Wilderness Adventure Spa, and the inspiration of nearby glacial lakes found in Vichy Waterfall Rituals at Solitude Spa in Teton Mountain Lodge. If your fears are less psychic than political, spending time in Cheney country – the vice president has a place in the area – you’ll be shocked to discover that the valley is like a blue-state island in a sea of red-state dogma. A leaf through the Planet Jackson Hole newspaper gives an accurate portrait of this town’s priorities: Right-to-life ads are far outnumbered by those for the Hemp Film Festival. Read the full story HERE.

Share

spa break: la costa

la costa spa

In what has become a cherished January tradition, I’m ducking into the spa at La Costa for a day of steam, massage, lunch, and sunning myself under the orange trees. Wake me when the cold snap in the northeast is done and dusted, please. Then again, don’t bother.

spa pool

Share

burning off the morning frost

burning off the morning frost

Share

loose-limbed and light

sunset spa

I was wrong about that massage being redundant the other day.  So wrong, in fact, that I’ve retreated back into the spa at Paresa today for something called Thai Boran Massage, an ancient Thai-style massage that dates back 2,500 years. Using no oil, the rhythmic treatment utilizes scented herbal pouches instead, concentrating on pressure points and stretching to stimulate circulation and relax muscles. I’ve had more than my fair share of massages but this turns out to be 120 minutes of bliss. When all is said and done, I feel amazing: relaxed, yet energized; loose-limbed and light. Even better, I’m not left dripping in oil.

herbal boran pouches

Share

paresa

paresa 3

Perched high on the cliff side, over azure blue waters and a picturesque panorama of the Andaman Sea, Paresa is more than just a hotel: it’s Phuket’s best kept secret. Imagine the Swiss Family Robinson, if they were smart enough to build themselves a treehouse made of teak in the tropical forest, an outdoor shower, a fully stocked bar, and a private infinity pool cantilevered over the cliff, and you begin to get a sense of the luxury adventure that awaits. Add a team of Angels on call to do your bidding – plus a private beach club along the marvelously under-crowded Kamala Beach – and your search for the perfect idyll has ended. Or at least my search has ended. What need have I with the rest of this island when my jungle villa awaits? Cocooned, the outside world falls away. And while I’m due at the spa any minute now, for the first time in my life I’m thinking a massage might actually be redundant.

kamal beach - paresa

paresa 2

Share

spa break at the peninsula

Notice the golden dome of Sirocco in the background – cause of this morning’s retreat into a private spa suite at The Peninsula. Sinking into a jacuzzi tub with views over the pool and out to the river, fresh coconut water in hand, and not one but two attendants waiting to salt scrub me down and oil me up, I might just consider this home sweet home for the day.

Share

making sense

If there’s one thing that can lure me out of my lair it’s a trip to the spa, which at Rosewood Mayakoba is tucked into the jungle on its own private island. I’m getting a taste of what’s to come in celebration of the end of the Mayan calendar – or what some pessimistic folks are calling the Mayan Apocalypse. Emmanuel Arroyo, Spa Director at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, is one of the optimists, however. “The end of the calendar on December 21st isn’t the end of the world but the end of a cycle,” he tells me while showing off the unobtrusively expansive facilities. “A new cycle is beginning; and with that comes the promise of renewal.” All of which sounds like the perfect excuse to be a pampered guinea pig for the 2 1/2 hour Mayan Equinox Ritual, which begins with a blessing of copal, the ceremonial incense used by Mayan warriors before going into battle. Afterwards comes a full-body jade exfoliation, a gold-infused wrap and mask to nourish and protect the skin, and a 90-minute mineralizing massage that incorporates silver. A word to the wise: they might want to think about rechristening the treatment - something more akin to Mayan Warrior, perhaps? – because far from feeling like I need to scraped off the table at the end, I feel revitalized, armed, and ready to conquer. Maybe the time has come for me to seize the beach.

Share

free tickets to paradise

With the addition of two new American Airlines flights from Miami International Airport to St. Kitts, arriving in paradise has never been easier. And you know when I speak of paradise I can only mean one place: the sublime Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (Star Alliance loyalists take note: Cape Air continues its scenic, low-flying service into Nevis direct via San Juan, too). On arrival, take a stroll on untainted stretches of golden sands; play amid dramatic tropical backdrops on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones II-designed course; unwind in a private outdoor cottage at the Caribbean’s poshest spa; and recount the day’s events as you savor excellent seafood and spectacular ocean vistas at Mango. Or do what I love most: snuggle into a gingerbread-trimmed beach house and be pampered. Even better, book a five-night stay – good through December 19th - and receive a $1000 airfare credit.

Share

live blog: fish spa, or callous live bait

Share

just published: unwinding in san diego

With year-round perfect climate and unparalleled natural beauty, Southern California provides the ideal backdrop for rekindling the spirit and pampering the body.  The recent worldwide spa explosion is exemplified in San Diego,which boasts a bevy of spas with top-of-the-line treatments, first-class services and indulgent amenities.  These luxurious escapes can be found throughout the region nestled against the dramatic Pacific coastline, perched high above the glittering downtown skyline, tucked into the Cuyamaca Mountains and set amidst the serenity of  lush inland canyons. Get ready to soothe your senses, inspire your soul, invigorate your step and energize your spirit. They don’t call this the Sunshine State for nothing. READ MORE (pdf download)

Share

the rhythm of the mist

Named for the soft morning mist that gently floats over the cottonwood trees and the Rio Grande, Tamaya Mist at the Hyatt Regency is a spa connected to the land. The Tamayame came to this part of the Southwest centuries ago, setting up villages throughout the region but always moving on – traveling from the north to the west, then south and then east. They were prosperous and peaceful wherever they settled and never forgot the instructions given to them: move on. They stopped only to regain strength by nourishment and as soon as their energy was renewed, the traveling continued. My own nourishing journey of well-being this afternoon is a truly original offering: Ancient Drumming; a treatment which begins with an application of mud from the neighboring Jemez Mountains, infused with detoxifying local red chiles. As the heat penetrates into the skin my therapist gently thrums away the stresses of a delayed cross-country flight with flax seed-filled muslin bags that have been dipped in an oil scented with pinon, the nut of the native pine tree. The repetitive percussive technique seems rather anodyne at first – not the deep tissue my body seems to crave –  yet the gentle rhythm and steady pressure slowly but surely lulls me into a relaxing trance. Afterwards I am drenched in warm oil and lightly exfoliated using an aromatic scrub of pinon resin. I feel clean and smooth but more to the point, I am hydrated against the desiccation which comes from the inhospitable environment of both planes and deserts. I’m ready – almost – to being an adventure in New Mexico.

Share

from the archives: bathing in bedford springs

Secluded on 2,200 acres in the Southern Allegheny Mountains of south-central Pennsylvania, Bedford Springs Resort is one of the country’s few surviving examples of a time since passed – a time when Americans “summered” and traveled to “take the waters.” Now a national historic landmark, the 18th-century resort hotel sat derelict for a generation before recently undergoing a massive $120 million renovation that restored the once-famous mineral springs, Colonial-era buildings and golf course. How appropriate then, that this piece of American history is returned to its former glory and welcoming travelers once again.

Long touted for its healing waters and restorative environs, Bedford Springs dates back to 1796, when its seven original mineral springs were purchased by Bedford native Dr. D. John Anderson, who built bathing facilities for his patients to drink and soak in the waters. To local residents and the general public he sold “life tickets” and “family tickets.” It was the beginning of something far grander than anyone could have imagined. As word of the healing springs spread – they were rumored to cure everything from gout to rheumatism to “derangements of the liver” – Bedford’s guest register recorded the names of many American luminaries, including Daniel Webster, Aaron Burr and Henry Ford. Presidents Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor also came for the cure.

Where celebrities and politicians went, so society followed, and “the Bedford Cure” became part of the social circuit. Outdoor adventure in the lush valley became part of it as well, as guests amused themselves with lawn bowling, badminton, shuffleboard and tennis. After a morning soak at the Yellow, Sulphur or Moss Springs, patrons packed the horse-drawn “Talley Ho” for a ride around the grounds and into town.

With the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1940 came greater access to the prestigious resort, and it continued to prosper throughout the 1960s and ’70s. But by the 1980s the once-grand grande dame appeared outdated and eventually closed her doors. It was soon deemed one of the most endangered sites on the National Registry of Historic Places.

After 21 years, Bedford Springs Resort has awoken like Sleeping Beauty. There are now more than 200 guest rooms, elegantly restored in historically accurate colors with period details preserved and reflecting the diverse history of the buildings. Sun- and breeze-filled porches are plentiful, with striking views of the grounds. Many of the curiosities discovered during the overhaul are proudly displayed, including photographs of turn-of-the-century merrymakers, guest registers and ledgers noting presidential visits, and a grand Stars and Stripes that greets you in the Federal-era lobby – the only known 39-star American flag in existence. Today, the resort’s fabled waters flow through a new 30,000-square-foot Springs Eternal Spa fed by Spring Eternal, the property’s eighth spring, which unexpectedly gushed to the surface during the restoration. Treatments at the Springs Eternal Spa are naturally focused on hydrotherapies, so be sure to indulge in the classic American spa experience of taking the waters however you can. Both the restored Victorian-style indoor swimming pool and the newly built outdoor pool are spring-fed. The trout stream and miles of nature trails will excite outdoor enthusiasts. Give a nod to the old “Talley Ho” and grab one of the resort’s Cannondale bikes and a prepared picnic from the cafe.

What’s even more engaging about Bedford Springs is the utter lack of pretense. Some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff you’ll ever meet are happy to stop whatever they’re doing and share some fascinating factoid. (The central double staircase, for example, is rumored to have been designed by Thomas Jefferson, who installed a similar one at Monticello.) There are nuggets of American history tucked into every nook and cranny of Bedford Springs. However, it’s the five-star service that will leave you feeling positively presidential.  READ MORE

Share

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.