Best Spas 2012 - Old Edwards Inn and Spa

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Best Spas 2012 - Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Cover Oct 2012_Passport Cover Mar 2011 9/4/12 3:28 PM Page 1
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THE MOST SENSATIONAL
SPAS IN THE WORLD!
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
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THE WORLD’S MOST
SENSATIONAL
SPAS!
Every day, more and more people are discovering that a trip to the spa, whether for the day or an entire
vacation, is the perfect way to rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit. Passport has left no hot stone unturned
or therapy untried, to bring you our favorite spas from around the globe. When planning your next delightfully indulgent getaway, you’re sure to find the treatment of your dreams at one of these exceptional locations. Whether it’s a couple’s massage, mud bath, or seaweed facial, the astounding array of international
spas covered here is sure to provide you with just what you need to relax and revitalize.
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the world’s most sensational spas
Budapest Gellért Bath
EUROPE
DEEP NATURE SPA
NICE, FRANCE
When the fabulous Boscolo Hotels set about renovating one of Nice’s oldest
and grandest hotels on swanky Victor Hugo Boulevard just blocks from the
Mediterranean, it performed a gorgeous restoration on the century-old building’s ornate exterior. But on the inside, it went for broke with a dazzlingly bold
and modern white-on-white color scheme, and thus was born the five-star
Boscolo Exedra, which opened to rave reviews in 2009. The hotel’s Deep
Nature Spa has since become a favorite with visitors and locals alike, with
half-day admission to the serene facilities (including steam, sauna, and the
inviting multi-featured hydro pool) at just $62, and even cheaper rates for repeat
customers. For those who want some direct pampering, Deep Nature’s treatment menu offers numerous options, both mainstream and offbeat. The signature Algotherm massage (85 min/$162) starts with a hammam session and fullbody scrub to prep the skin for its relaxing massage with lavender oil.
Meanwhile, the face-and-body-energizing Destination Moscou (85 min/$187)
uses a device it calls a “wooden massage accessory” to whisk one on a sensorial voyage from Lake Baikal to the gates of Moscow. Deep Nature also offers a
full range of beautification treatment add-ons, ranging from the classic back or
torso waxing ($40) to the contemporary lip re-pulping ($19). If you arrive in
Nice too wiped out to even figure out what you want, probably best to start with
the Jet Lag Program, a recharging massage with essential oils (50 min/$149),
followed by a AlgoIntense Facial (55 min/$106), tailored to the area where you
need it most (moisturizing, purifying, firmness, or age defying). Or if you just
want mani/pedis, Deep Nature does that too: a full manicure ($81) or pedicure
($94) includes a scrub massage and base coat. www.nice.boscolohotels.com
—Dan Allen
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
GELLÉRT BATHS
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Budapest’s thermal springs have been utilized for centuries, from enormous Roman bathing complexes (the ruins of which still remain) to
Turkish-style baths built when this was part of the Ottoman Empire. They
are popular today with club promoters like Cinetrip who keeps things relevant by hosting hedonistic dance parties and movie nights in historic
venues such as the Rudas Baths and Széchenyi Baths. The gay community has made good use of Budapest’s baths too. Gay men used to gravitate
toward the old Kirády Baths, which date to 1565 and would alternate
between men- and women-only days—but this small Turkish-style bath
has recently gone co-ed so it’s time to switch allegiances. Although the
new Magnum Sauna now fulfills the specific needs of gay men, I recommend you enjoy a bit of faded grandeur and homoerotic nostalgia by visiting the famous Gellért Baths. Dating to 1912 and built in a spectacular
art nouveau style, it’s one of Budapest’s biggest and best-known bath
complexes. The focal point is a large swimming pool in the galleried main
hall, with a dramatic vaulted glass roof. Although this pool is mixed, the
decadently tiled thermal baths that extend from here remain segregated by
gender. A different spa etiquette exists within the male-only domain;
where the air is a mix of sulfur and testosterone, and where swimming
trunks are no longer obligatory, facilitating a cautiously cruise-y atmosphere. Most simply enjoy the various pools, including a large outdoor
swimming pool that boasts one of the world’s first artificial wave
machines, but there are affordable treatments such as Spa Water Massage
or the Aroma Relax Massage (20 min/$14), Chocolate Spa Treatment
($52), and the lethal-sounding Carbon Acid Bath ($10). Admission with
locker or cabin from $18. www.gellertfurdo.hu
—Stuart Haggas
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the world’s most sensational spas
Thermae Spa, Villa Padierna Palace
YHI WELLNESS SPA, GRAN MELIÀ ROME
VILLA AGRIPPINA
ROME, ITALY
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Gran Melià Rome. The hotel was
11 years in the making and well worth the wait. The much-anticipated hotel
finally opened in April 2012, bringing a new sense of style and urban oasis to
the historically rich city but also wooing spa-goers with its decadent YHI
Wellness Spa. The intimate sanctuary offers an outdoor vitality pool, four treatment rooms, sauna, steam bath, sensation showers, and relaxation area. The spa
takes highbrow to a whole new level in Rome as it’s the only hotel spa in the
city to use the emerging trend of diamonds (diamond powder) in body scrubs
and facials. The innovative Diamond Lift Effect (80 min/$220) truly battles
aging. A special scrub with glyco peel is first used to help prepare the skin,
using five alphahydroxy acids. Then, a serum that includes an infusion of
marine DNA helps with the lifting effect by regenerating the skin. While gems
were placed on my chakras to rebalance energy, a nectar gel used as a mask was
applied, topped off with a special diamond-powder cream. This facial was just
as interesting as the Diamond Magnetic body treatment (120 min/$180), where
I reclined upon a heat pillow, and, again, stones like diamond and quartz were
placed on my chakras for harmony. A gritty paste with diamond and iron dust
was massaged onto my body to exfoliate. My therapist then used magnetic
gloves that literally lifted the paste (with dead skin) off me. This was followed
by a massage with diamond body cream with lavender extract. After both treatments, I was given a glass of water energized with rock crystals. If this whole
experience wasn’t Burning Man meets Mob Wives, I’m not sure what is, but the
"magic" in the treatments was impressive after I left the spa. My skin felt
extraordinarily smooth, and there was instant gratification with the facial. In
fact, my entire body felt refreshed and renewed, and even a normal bath felt like
it would ruin the transformation. www.granmeliarome.com
—Jimmy Im
THERMAE SPA, VILLA PADIERNA PALACE HOTEL
BENAHAVÍS, SPAIN
Never ones to overlook a good bath, the Romans first discovered the healing
properties of the sulfuric waters in Spain’s Anadalusia region more than two
millennia ago. Today, Thermae Spa at the Villa Padierna Palace Hotel on
the outskirts of Marbella carries on the ancient tradition in a gloriously and
luxuriously Romanesque center of aquatic bliss, complete with shimmering
marble pillars and classical statuary, all opening up onto the floral southern
Spanish countryside. Highly recommended are one of the excellent Spa
Rituals Around the World massages (85 min/$165): Khanya of Africa uses
special stones and crystals (like rose quartz and calcite) to enhance the
man/nature connection; ScenTao of Asia uses green tea, ginseng, and gingko
biloba along with hot stones to restore mind/body balance; and Beleza do
Brasil alternates tropical sprays with massage and warming elements to
Qua Baths & Spa, Caesar’s Palace
renew energy. Make a full day of it by choosing one of the Day Spa Journeys,
like the fabulous Journey of Relaxation and Restoration ($300). The immersion begins with Thermae’s exclusive Thermal Circuit, which features eight
distinct aromatherapy steam rooms, alternately soothing and invigorating, in
surprisingly different ways. Your journey continues with a Full Body Salt
and Oil Scrub, followed by a 25-minute Nourishing Treatment to smooth the
skin. After a spa lunch, your day is capped off with an 85-minute Asian
Massage to realign mind, body, and spirit. For those with even more time, the
spa is home to the Medical Wellness Institute, wherein world-renowned doctors and wellness experts will work with you to create a comprehensive customized program (usually of at least a week or two), consisting of beauty and
medical treatments, diet and exercise regimens, and even emotional support.
www.hotelvillapadierna.com
—Dan Allen
ASIA
CHI THE SPA, CHINA WORLD SUMMIT WING
BEIJING, CHINA
Architect Rem Koolhaas’ trapezoidal CCTV Headquarters is one of the
most iconic additions to Beijing’s 21st-century cityscape. Now overlooking
it is the sleek, neighboring 81-floor World Trade Center Tower III, which
opened in 2010. Part of the Shangri-La hotel family, the 278-room China
World Summit Wing occupies this skyscraper’s uppermost levels. Boasting
floor-to-ceiling views that extend to the Forbidden City and beyond on clear
days, Summit Wing also lays claim to Beijing’s highest bar (the 80th floor’s
clubby-elegant Atmosphere) and, on the 77th level, its highest spa, CHI.
The spa’s reception area and six treatment suites’ designs are thoroughly
contemporary yet uncluttered, with muted colors and dark woods, dim
lighting, dashes of texture and relics, and a calming ambiance. Treatment
offerings are extensive and diverse, sourcing techniques and materials from
throughout Asia. These include the Philippines’ Hilot pressure point massage (75 min/$145), and a body scrub with antioxidant-rich Goji berries (60
min /$75), as well as China’s own Tuina massage (60 min/$115, 90 min,
$170). Men’s selections include both a “quick fix” Men’s Executive Facial
(60 min/$153) or the more involved collagen-infusing Men’s Deluxe Facial
(105 min/$310) featuring caviar extracts. Completely unique to the Beijing
CHI is its Beijing Summit package ($420). The three-and-a-half hour treatment begins with either an aroma bath or steam shower, followed by the goji
berry scrub, made even more nourishing thanks to coconut milk. After a
CHI Balance Massage, amalgamating several different techniques including acupressure and seriously relaxing strokes, the final element is the
Amber Charm Facial, which sees a piece of crystallized amber used to massage specific points of the face. Whether or not the amber actually does
“help regulate and optimize absorption capabilities,” it certainly feels great.
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the world’s most sensational spas
Photo: Erkek Yikama
Ayasofya Hammam
Either before or after, be sure to check out the sauna, steam room, oxygen
room (Beijing’s only), and the truly stunning heated indoor infinity pool
overlooking Beijing and its growing wealth of new landmarks.
www.shangri-la.com
—Lawrence Ferber
THE SIX SENSES SPA
KEMPINSKI HOTEL BARBAROS BAY
BODRUM, TURKEY
For size alone, The Six Senses Spa at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay is one
of the standout spas in Europe (although, the 60,000-square-foot spa is
technically in Asia). Tucked into a small bay, where the Mediterranean
meets the Aegean, the hotel and spa a offer multitude of services and activities for every type of spa enthusiast. Hotel guests can freely enjoy spa
amenities, like separate wet areas with relaxation rooms for men and
women, plus the gym facility and traditional Turkish hammams. Multi-day
detox programs provide a holistic approach to nourishing all your senses
with light spa fare, healthy smoothies, and plentiful detoxifying treatments.
A Watsu massage (30 min/$68, or 50 min/$105) in a tranquil private pool
provides the therapeutic benefits of warm-water shiatsu for the body, while
the floating experience quiets the mind into a meditative state. A number of
signature treatments utilize the spa’s Turkish hammam. Basic cleansing and
scrub rituals in the hammam start at $78 for a 45-minute treatment. The
Slow Life Hammam Journey (90 min/$140) uses local, sustainably sourced
organic green clay with rose and olive oils. This traditional Turkish-spa
experience leaves your body smoothly exfoliated and nicely nourished.
Finish off your spa experience with a sunset walk on the nearby private
beach and a glass of Turkish wine at the stylish poolside Chill Out Lounge.
www.kempinski.com/en/bodrum
—Joseph Schmitt
AYASOFYA HÜRREM SULTAN HAMAMI
ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Experiencing a traditional Turkish bathhouse while in Istanbul is the ultimate
way to connect with cultural influences dating back many hundreds of years.
There are more affordable baths in Istanbul, but probably none as beautiful
as Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami. This particular location is said to be
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
the place of one of the Baths of Zeuxippus, before being destroyed in the
year 532 B.C.E. Then, 1,000 years later, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
ordered the construction of another bath for his wife at this very spot. The
bath that stands here now has been completely rebuilt, with eye-popping
Ottoman-era detail, but you can still see some of the original marble structure preserved behind glass. You will feel as royal as a Sultan from the
moment you enter. Treatments here start at about $100, beginning with a PirI Pak (Full Cleaning) experience (35 min). After changing into your silk bath
wrap and robe, you are led into the wet area of the bath, where you’re
allowed plentiful time to warm up on the heated marble stone and douse
yourself with warm water from a traditional brass bowl. Your therapist of the
same gender will then take you to another heated alcove in the bath to vigorously scrub you down. After this, your body is laid on the communal heated marble where more massage is applied, as you are cocooned in a mountain of bubbles. After the hands-on portion of your bath experience, you’re
escorted into the relaxation pavilion where you leisurely cool down with
chilled teas and water. www.ayasofyahamami.com
—Joseph Schmitt
TREE OF LIFE RESORT & SPA
JAIPUR, INDIA
Any first timer to India will tell you that the deluge of sights, sounds, smells,
and sensations encountered during one’s travels through this magical land can
be mentally and physically exhausting. That’s where the sumptuous Tree of
Life Resort and Spa comes in, allowing you the space and sheer comfort to
begin decompressing from your amazing journey. Set in the beautiful hills just
outside of Jaipur (the Pink City) in Rajasthan, Tree of Life is an ultra-luxury
resort of just 14 very large villas, each with its own mini-spa in the private yard
just outside its door. Many of the treatments here are designed with couples in
mind, to the extent that the resort’s central spa, Ekam, is called “The Couples
Spa.” It’s worth noting that same-sex partners are more than welcome, since
Tree of Life’s owner, Himmat Anand, has infused the resort with an overtly gayfriendly vibe. Among the spa’s most popular treatments are body polishers (30
min/$54), quick but effective sessions using your choice of Basil and Marigold
Sand, Lime ,and Ginger, or Turmeric and Salt. Though they can be experienced
independently, most clients follow up the polishing with the Holistic Massage
or the deep-tissue Stress Relieving Massage (60 min/$64, 90 min/$87). For a
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the world’s most sensational spas
Leela Palace Udaipur
signature holistic Ayurvedic treatments utilizing ESPA products. Ayurvedic
massage options include the Shirobhyanga, Padabhyanga, and Shirodhara (30
min/$60 each). The Men’s Facial, Shoulder and Scalp Treatment (1 hr/$78)
gets the glow back and tension out and is part of the men’s four-hour Royal
Knights of Rajahstan package ($291). It also includes a full-body 90-minute
Aromatherapy Massage, and Padabhyanga, a Dosha-specific, deeply relaxing
foot and lower-leg treatment that revitalizes tired muscles. According to
Ayurvedic beliefs, the latter is especially beneficial to the health, but regardless you will be in bliss as oily hands relax stressed foot muscles you didn’t
even realize were tensed up. The Leela Palace motto is atithi devo bhava (the
guest is God) and despite your personal religious beliefs, you’ll feel like
you’ve reached heaven by treatment’s end. www.theleela.com
—Lawrence Ferber
Photo: Hardev Singh
FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP SPA
CHIANG RAI, THAILAND
longer indulgence, go for the three-hour Gardens of Sisodia or Inspiration from
Amber massages, the former a florid homage to the nearby Sisodia Gardens just
outside of Jaipur ($166), and the latter a concept massage inspired by the one
of the area’s most famous sights, the beautiful Amber Fort, in a treatment that
features a signature strong rhythmic massage, alternating palm and thumb
strokes ($173). For a simpler romantic option, go for the Aravali Bath (30
min/$37), a sensuous sunset candlelit aroma-charged bath in your own private
outdoor sunken tub. www.treeofliferesorts.com
—Dan Allen
THE SPA BY ESPA,
THE LEELA PALACE KEMPINSKI UDAIPUR
UDAIPUR, INDIA
Nicknamed The City of Lakes and regarded as India’s Venice, Udaipur is one
of the country’s most beautiful, picturesque destinations. With the Aravalli
Mountains as backdrop, grand, gorgeous examples of Indian architecture like
the City Palace line Lake Pichola’s banks (fun fact: it’s a man-made lake and
during droughts can completely dry up!). The opulent, 80-room Leela Palace
resort is a standout, exemplifying the Rajasthan region’s style and design,
with such a spectacular degree of hospitality, pampering, and eye-popping
luxury it could well be out of a fairytale or James Bond film (in fact, part of
Octopussy was shot in Udaipur). Guests typically arrive at the property via
boat transfer across the Pichola, and, once landed, are met with music and a
rose petal rainfall. Between visits to town and local attractions, there’s much
to do on property including dine on fine Indian cuisine at Sheesh Mahal, sip
fine liquors and cocktails at The Library Bar, swim, and unwind at the Spa
by ESPA. Nestled between the Leela’s sprawling pool and a Guava garden are
the spa’s eight luxury tents and house-treatment suites (including ones with
private pools, walled gardens, and lake views), as well as dedicated spaces for
yoga and meditation (60 min/$40). The extensive spa menu includes many
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
In a country that has a massage named after it, it’d be churlish not to indulge
when visiting Thailand. There are infinite options available in Bangkok and
beyond, but for me the standout experience is the spa at the Four Seasons
Tented Camp in Thailand’s Golden Triangle. Situated on a tributary of the
Mekong River, in a secret location that’s accessible by boat, this luxurious
tented resort provides what is probably the world’s most extravagant camping experience, with an array of unique amenities including an on-site elephant sanctuary. Guests therefore have a hands-on opportunity to learn the
skills of a mahout (elephant keeper) and ride through the jungle on the neck
of one. After such an exhilarating experience, what better way to relax and
repair strained muscles than by enjoying the signature Mahout Recovery
Treatment (90 min/$165) at the camp spa? Located in a secluded ravine, it
has two open-air salas so you’re surrounded by lush foliage and hypnotic
jungle sounds. While I took a refreshing alfresco shower, my therapist prepared a poultice infused with camphor, kaffir lime, and lemongrass. This
energizing solution is then massaged into the body to soothe unyielding
muscles, stimulate adrenalin glands, and promote the release of lactic acid.
As the entrancing jungle soundtrack played on, the precise manipulations of
my therapist helped vanquish muscle tension while encouraging circulation
and flexibility. Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, I was able to focus on the
amazing memory of riding an elephant, while forgetting all about the sore
butt and aching muscles that accompanied my jungle adventure.
www.fourseasons.com/goldentriangle
—Stuart Haggas
CIELO SPA, SHERATON HOTEL
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
After several hours strolling along Tel Aviv’s vibrant beachfront promenade,
by midday it was time to escape the scorching sun and humidity into the airconditioned oasis of the Sheraton Hotel perched above the beach. Their
Cielo Spa has a dry Finnish sauna and a luxurious Turkish bath (Turkish
Beson Massage, 40 min/$80). The spa features 14 treatment rooms, including two spacious suites—the Red Rose Suite and Honeymoon Suite, two
rooms dedicated to Dead Sea treatments and mud wraps (50 min/$75) and
salt peeling (50 min/$85), complete with luxurious showers. Other menu
choices include a Classic Swedish Massage (50 min/$85); Honey Massage
(50 min/$140); and the Hot Basalt Stones Massage (50 min/$100). Two
rooms are outfitted with anti-aging Oxygenation Facials equipment (90
min/$225), which is what I chose. Among the Hollywood-set, the Oxygen
Facial is the new black. Eva Longoria and Brad Pitt are fans, and it was a
huge hit among the gals of Sex and the City. The technology originated in
Australia: a machine pumps out therapeutic-grade oxygen and infuses an
anti-aging serum of hyaluronic acid, vitamins A, C, and E, green tea, and
aloe vera into the dermal layers to boost new cell growth and enhance elastin
and collagen production. An instant youthful glow is hopefully achieved and
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the world’s most sensational spas
SPA AT CAPE GRACE
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Banyan Tree Seychelles
should last for up to two weeks. My therapist Oxanna, a Russian who immigrated to Israel about 16 years ago, first cleansed my face with various
lotions, eradicated some unsightly blackheads from my nose, tapped my face
with an antiseptic infrared wand, coated it with serum, then a clear plastic
shield was positioned on my face and the oxygen turned on for a total of
about 20 minutes. Later that evening, I did receive a compliment from a
friend about how good I looked. After my facial, I took advantage of one of
the spa’s not-to-miss specialties: the Fish Pedicure (25 min/$30). Tucked
away in a corner with a window to the beach is a fish tank where I sat down
on a bench, timidly stuck my feet in and within seconds dozens of the fish
glommed on and began nibbling the dead skin on my heels and between my
toes. The first minute it tickled, almost like tiny zaps of electricity, but soon
I relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed this novel spa treatment. I couldn’t help
wondering what it would be like to immerse my face, or my whole body, into
the fish tank. Now that could be a lot of fun. www.sheratontelaviv.com
—Bill Strubbe
AFRICA
BANYAN TREE SPA SEYCHELLES
SEYCHELLES, AFRICA
In the remote Indian Ocean, the Seychelles’ towering granitic islands showcase an ancient, rock-hewn terrain, an isolated Darwin dreamland that was
separated from the Gondwana supercontinent over 75 million years ago. On
Mahé, the tallest and largest of these granitic islands, the eight private pavilions comprising the Banyan Tree Spa Seychelles hug a dramatic precipice
of craggy rock and lush virgin jungle. The amenity-rich pavilions are generously spaced over an ascending slope, each with its own alfresco private
stair entrance, changing area, and oversized, claw-foot bathtub. High in the
hilltops, encased in glass at balcony height, these square pavilions play out
like gigantic magic carpets floating over the Seychelles’ extraordinary marriage of iconic boulders and crystalline waters. Already immersed in the
sights and sounds of extreme natural grandeur, the journey becomes almost
metaphysical as your certified Banyan Tree therapist commences a 120minute to 180-minute holistic treatment rooted in centuries-old Thai and
Balinese traditions. The heavenly “Royal Banyan,” so named for its ancestry in Royal Thai palaces, kicks off with an herbal footbath, followed by an
acupressure massage, then a deep-tissue massage executed with an herbal
compress, and ending with a ginger and oatmeal bath (150 min/$325). With
treatments clocking an average of three hours, it’s no surprise that the spa
also offers Banyan Day, which is wildly popular with repeat guests (450
min/$531). So what goes into a 7.5-hour spa day? Think: a scrub, wrap,
massage, facial, hand and foot massage, healthy snacks, organic lunch, and
anything and everything in between. Add the endless jaw-dropping panorama and the inescapable magic of the Seychelles, and nirvana seems easily
in reach. www.banyantree.com/en/seychelles
—Paul Rubio
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
With the 2010 World Cup, Cape Town scored a major tourism goal (not to mention that last year’s The Bachelor put the city on everyone’s radar), and it wasn’t
a one-hit wonder. Now that South Africa has been exposed positively on a global scale, everyone wants a taste of this hot spot. The Cape Grace hotel just adds
to the buzz. It has to be one of the best hotels I’ve stayed in (big statement, I
know, but I do not lie). Cape Grace truly sets a benchmark on how luxury hotels
should be. Service comes effortlessly, so streamlined it’s almost a little too
Stepford Wives, and I mean that in the best possible way. Tastefully appointed
rooms have views of the harbor and Table Mountain, and the outdoor pool is a
further sanctuary within the sanctuary of the hotel. Speaking of sanctuary, one
highlight was the Spa at Cape Grace on the top floor of the hotel. With
panoramic views of Table Mountain, the city, and yacht marina, the 2,475square-foot spa is truly a destination within itself. The people and cultures of
Southern Africa inspire the entire spa, and guests will note the flora of the continent and traditional African remedies. You can’t help but feel exotic up here.
There are five treatment rooms, a salon, fitness studio, and hot spa area that
includes steam room, sauna, rain shower, and body shower, relaxation area, and
spa sun deck. I opted for the Rolling Sands Massage (60 min/$92) from the
Kalahari Spa Range. With the Kalahari concept—naturally derived products
based on the ancient secrets of the Kalahari Desert—Koi San Aromatic,
Aromatic Dune, Tsamma, or Wild Honey Blend is massaged into the skin (I
went for wild honey). All four, natural signature fragrances are from sustainable,
indigenous plants of the Kalahari. The massage was soothing (especially after
that long flight!), and I also received a Kalahari bead bracelet (made from ostrich
egg shells) at the end of the massage, which helps contribute to the Khoi San
people. Due to the dry cabin air, I also got the Anti-Aging Deluxe Facial (90
min/$131) to ensure restoration, thrilled that the spa uses the Comfort Zone skincare brand. www.capegrace.com
—Jimmy Im
AUSTRALIA
HAYMAN SPA, HAYMAN ISLAND
GREAT BARRIER REEF
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Spa life practically oozes from every port on this island paradise, whether you
arrive via seaplane, helicopter, or luxury yacht. Surrounded by lush tropical
foliage, exotic wildlife, and the clean waters of the Coral Sea, every element of
the island is nourishing for the mind, body, and soul. It’s only fitting, then, that
Hayman Spa breaks free from the confines of a traditional spa setting. Sure,
you’ll find an actual spa facility, with the requisite reception and relaxation
areas. There’s even a Vichy shower treatment room, and co-ed sauna, steam
room, and cold plunge pool. But you’ll find the most memorable experiences
outside of the spa. The Ocean Massage (90 min/$400) finds you in the tranquil
waters of the bay, with the warm waves lapping at your toes as tropical fish
swirl around your massage table. The Outdoor Cabana Massage (90
min/$290) lands you right on the beach where wild cockatoos keep you company. For a little privacy, an Outdoor Pavilion Massage (90 min/$290) is set in
one of the resort’s outdoor pavilions by waterfalls in the gardens. A small group
of Beachfront Villas makes up the higher end of accommodations at Hayman
Island, boasting unencumbered views of the Coral Sea, featuring private pools
with daybeds and outdoor showers. Schedule your massage in suite for an additional $100 over the cost of in-spa treatments, and you’ll hardly need to leave
your private paradise. www.hayman.com.au/spa
—Joseph Schmitt
CHI SPA, SHANGRI-LA SYDNEY
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
As the spa brand of a hotel named for that elusive citadel of inner peace and
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the world’s most sensational spas
Photo: Shangri-La, Sydney
Chi Spa, Shangri-La Sydney
enchantment, CHI, itself an Eastern concept describing essential life force energy, delivers on its promise of harmonious treatments for the body and mind.
Overlooking the Sydney Opera House and steps from the Sydney Harbour Bridge
(climbing this engineering icon is a must), this Rocks District hotel is in the heart
of the action, which can range from cocktails in the 36th floor Blu Bar to trips to
gay-friendly North Bondi, Lady Jane, and Obelisk Beaches. Whatever your pleasure in vibrant Sydney, the time will come to return to center, which in this case
means saying “G’day” to the many pleasures of CHI. Awarded “Best Spa in
Australasia and the South Pacific” at the 10th Annual Condé Nast Traveller
Readers’ Spa Awards this year, CHI delivers the goods. Too many drinks the night
before? Try the Ila Energising & Detoxifying Scrub or Bio-Energizing Body
Wrap (1 hr/$175-$190). Neck sore from nude spotting at Obelisk? Hot healing
stones or Rescue Release will melt you back into shape (45 min/$120-135). If you
overcooked in that antipodean Oz sun, the CHI Gentlemen’s Facial (1 hr/$170$185) or Bush Honey and Macadamia Body Wrap (75 min/$220-$245) will provide soothing relief. Located on the hotel’s second floor, Asian-themed CHI features six luxurious “spa within a spa” suites, three of which include infinity tubs.
These private environments enhance CHI’s sensory journey into calm and balance, before the fun starts all over again. Prices vary depending on time an day
of treatment. www.shangri-la.com/sydney
—Jeff Heilman
SOUTH AMERICA
MANAVI SPA HANGAROA ECO VILLAGE AND SPA
EASTER ISLAND
There's nothing like flinging yourself to the middle of nowhere and landing on
the most remote island in the world. Easter Island is mysterious and exotic,
visually commanding and rich in history. Most adventure seekers check into
Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa. It's also just a five-minute walk to town, which
is where all the action is (and we say action very loosely on this island). It's the
most eco-sustainable hotel in Chile, so get familiar with the recycle icon. Don't
feel completely removed from civilization? Check into the hotel’s MANAVI
Spa, which was designed to resemble the traditional volcanic rock garden that
local Rapa Nui use to protect their crops. Furthermore, the spa uses local products. In addition to the four treatment rooms, there's a glass-enclosed sand and
salt sauna (the sand and salt are derived from a local tradition of covering oneself in sand to sweat and purify), a Finnish sauna, an outdoor Vaitea pool, and
two jacuzzis. I loved the lobby's hardwood floor and wooden beams, and the
staff was friendly to boot. Thanks to hours of hiking, I went straight for the foot
massage (25 min/$50). My therapist somehow intuitively found all the sore
spots and went nuts with just the right amount of pressure. Another popular
treatment I thought was interesting was the Algae covering (40 min/$73). It’s
essentially a body wrap with local algae that not only detoxifies but also
hydrates. www.hangaroa.cl
—Jimmy Im
SPA AT NOI VITACURA
SANTIAGO, CHILE
Noi Vitacura (opened August 2011) is the newest Santiago hotel on the luxury front. Large rooms, a buzzing restaurant, and affluent guests make it a popular crash pad for the fashionable set, but it’s the Spa at Noi Vitacura that will
really have you at hola. It’s a terrific sanctuary dedicated to relaxation and
restoration, not to mention the perfect hideaway from Santiago’s bustle. With
more than 35 beauty treatments offered in a 6,800-square-foot oasis, Noi Spa
guarantees to relieve anyone from the Latin bustle. When I visited, I was greeted right away by friendly staff and whisked away to the changing room. From
there, I took advantage of the spa’s steam and sauna (there’s also a fitness center, should you need to sweat a different way) and headed straight to the indoor
pool with hydro-massage. The floor-to-ceiling window exposed an outdoor
waterfall, which further enhanced this moment of relaxation (the natural lighting was totally welcome). I opted for the deep-cleansing facial (60 min/$82),
which made my skin feel hydrated and refreshed. The spa uses the popular
Murad line, which may seem ubiquitous in the states, but it's quite exclusive in
Santiago. What’s interesting and rare at Noi Spa is that you can choose from
three massage times (30 minutes, 50 minutes, and 80 minutes). Because I
wanted to enjoy the sights of Santiago with such a short visit, I went for the
shortest massage (call me crazy). The Deep Contracting Massage with Oils
(30 min/$40) is just a fancy way of saying deep tissue, and it left me knackered. Afterward, I relaxed in the lounge with a cup of green tea and—it turns
out—I reluctantly made my way back into the real world. www.noivitacura.cl
—Jimmy Im
NORTH AMERICA
WAYAK SPA, VICEROY RIVIERA MAYA
RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
At the Viceroy Riviera Maya’s Wayak Spa, Twilight (80 min/$195) isn’t the
name of some vampire-novel craze. It’s actually a physical therapy based on an
ancient Mayan ritual called Last Gleaming that uses a manteada (blanket to
stretch the body, adjust your posture, and elongate the muscles). When my therapist brought me into a gorgeous open-air room, I awaited her instructions to disrobe and get on the massage table. Instead, she pointed to the floor and I saw
what looked like a thin mattress covered with thin sheets. For almost 20 minutes
I was tugged and pulled at in a way that made me question my choice. Had I chosen Thai massage by mistake? Was my Spanish that bad? Then suddenly my hips
were lifted in the air and swinging back and forth. I looked down. Ah, it was the
blankets. They were being used to pull my legs, my thighs, my shoulders and
even my head, and it felt fantastic, like having a less invasive form of chiropractic care. I loosened up as I moved with her rhythm. When it was finished, I was
finally led to that massage table for a messy, but therapeutic rub down using
black volcanic clay said to be enhanced by herbs that had healing properties. If
you’re looking for an outdoor experience, the Hunan Kab (50 min/$150), which
is Mayan for Sweet Honey and Rain, is given in the spa’s special jungle cabana.
First the guest is massaged with a combo of honey, courtesy of the special bees
that live on property, and simultaneously rinsed with warm water from the Vichy
shower that is attached to a tree limb. It is both a dessert and a thirst quencher for
your skin that has been out facing the strong, drying rays of the Mexican sun.
www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/rivieramaya
—Chanize Thorpe
L’AUBERGE DE SEDONA RESORT
SEDONA, ARIZONA
L’auberge de Sedona’s spa reminds visitors luxury doesn’t have to be over
the top. Simple and rustic with no frills, the spa is exactly what it’s meant
to be: a rejuvenating sanctuary in the desert. For a place as spiritual as
Sedona, the spa at L’auberge couldn’t be in a more apt setting. Surrounded
by vortexes with commanding views of the Red Rocks, you’re bound to get
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the world’s most sensational spas
your Zen on. The first-class amenities include outdoor yoga class at sunrise; a private, creek-side cabana for massages; and a well-appointed outdoor pool to beat the heat. The signature L’auberge Stretch (60 min/$150)
hit the right spot after a long day of hiking. My therapist used several massage modalities to completely melt my muscles and give my legs the
restorative treatment they needed. The massage also included a variety of
assisted stretching techniques, which alleviated tightness and fostered
more flexibility. My therapist, who has been living in Sedona for about ten
years, also gave me some insight to the local hiking spots and vortexes.
Thanks to the “bohemian” flair of Sedona, I also opted for the Organic
Facial (60 min, $140), which used 100 percent natural and paraben-free
Scientific Organics produce line. Because of the botanicals used, my face
was treated to antioxidant-rich plant and marine extracts, spirulina, and
kombucha, with a nice serving of goji berry, white and green teas, and,
finally, aloe, to further hydrate the skin. Not only does this hydrating cocktail (including grape stem cells) brighten and refine the skin, it also combats free-radical damage and the appearance of wrinkles. The spa recently
introduced 30 brand-new spa cottages this past year, should you want the
ultimate spa package. www.lauberge.com
—Jimmy Im
THE SPA, HOTEL HEALDSBURG
HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA
The town of Healdsburg, with its designer boutiques, luxe hotels, and
charming village square is the ideal center point for a few days in Sonoma
County wine country. And there’s no better way to experience the area’s
gently rolling hills than by bicycling through the vineyards. Biking is so
popular among visitors to these parts that Marjorie Sisneros, lead therapist
and esthetician at The Spa at Hotel Healdsburg, has developed a Cyclist
Deep Relief Massage (50 min/$130) that focuses specifically on the areas
most stressed by long rides—not just obvious spots, like the legs and lower
back, but necks that have been craned over handlebars, and wrists that have
been gripping and twisting the day away. In addition to manual massage, the
treatment incorporates both hot and cold stones to soothe and refresh the
muscles along a well-exercised spine. One needn’t be an athlete to take
advantage of The Spa, but even if you’re indulging in a Lavender
Peppermint Restorative Massage or a Meyer Lemon and Sage Massage
using signature “Farm to Spa” products that are concocted locally (both 50
or 100 min/$130 or $230), be sure to take advantage of Sisneros and her
well-trained staff’s truly therapeutic leanings. This is an extraordinarily professional team, intent on not only pampering clients, but genuinely helping
them. Sisneros, who was disabled between ages 15 and 30 due to scoliosis,
credits deep-tissue work for changing her life and inspiring her to train in
Reiki, shiatsu, and Western techniques. A massage therapist for over three
decades (the past ten at the Hotel Healdsburg) Sisneros is a compassionate
listener, both to what clients verbally say they need in a massage, and what
their bodies tell her over the course of a session. Treatments include access
to the hotel’s secluded pool and Jacuzzi area, where guests can while the
day away, grateful for the skilled manipulations that have ushered them into
a blissfully dazed state. www.hotelhealdsburg.com/spa
—Jim Gladstone
ACCISTA SPA, HYATT REGENCY MONTEREY
MONTEREY BAY, CALIFORNIA
Monterey, perhaps best known as the site of John Steinbeck’s hardscrabble
Cannery Row, was once home to the Ohlone Indian tribe, who called the
area Accista. That Native American name has been adopted by the Hyatt
Regency Monterey’s decidedly un-hardscrabble spa, a 12,000-square-foot,
first-class cocoon where seasonal, locally sourced ingredients (including
lavender oil, honey, seaweed, and acorn meal) are incorporated in the treatments. In the reception area, prior to the customized Accista massage (50
min/$115), each client is asked to sample four different scents, from an
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
almost medicinal herbal blend to a warm, sunny citrus, and to select an
aroma that matches their mood and the tone of the treatment they’d like to
receive. The spa’s most extraordinary offerings are its lavish couples suites,
with private sitting areas, fireplaces, side-by-side massage tables, wine and
cheese service, and, in the largest suite, a hydrotherapy tub with room for
two. These elegantly appointed chambers are the ideal spot for a vacation
within a vacation on the Northern California coast ($75-$100 surcharge
above standard treatment rates). Even if you don’t reserve a suite of your
own, the hushed, sprawling post-therapy relaxation areas are arrayed with
comfortable daybeds, encouraging dreamy naps to extend the spa experience (if you look drowsy, an attendant will likely offer you a soft blanket to
snuggle up in). Likewise, generously large locker and wet rooms with rain
showers, steam rooms, and saunas allow a single treatment to be stretched
out into a half-day getaway. Spa guests have complementary access to an
outdoor pool and exercise room, and Accista also offers a full-service hair
and nail salon. www.accistaspa.com
—Jim Gladstone
SPA VITALE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
The rooftop Bathing Ritual at Spa Vitale is a one-of-a-kind urban indulgence that leaves you feeling utterly relaxed and gloriously spoiled (25 minutes/$60; $55 in conjunction with a second treatment). Step off of the busy
streets of San Francisco’s Financial District into the serene, earth-toned
environment of the Hotel Vitale (chosen as one of the World’s Best Business
Hotels by Passport in 2010) and ascend to the penthouse level. Change into
a remarkably comfortable robe (yes, most spas have robes...but these are
extraordinary) before being escorted to one of two outdoor tubs surrounded by natural privacy walls of tall green bamboo. While set within raised
wooden structure, these are hardly hippie-style Northern California hot
tubs, but full-length polymer bathtubs, scrupulously cleaned and refilled for
each guest. Its a strange, soothing feeling to stretch out in a lotion-infused
outdoor bath in the midst of the city, nibbling your tub-side snack of fresh
fruit and sipping a warm cup of herbal tea. The Vitale’s carefully curated
soundtrack burbles from surrounding speakers, muffling the street sounds
down below to help create an oasis of solitude as you stare up at shifting
clouds and drifting seagulls, letting the cares of the day slip away. Before or
after your soak, put yourself in the strong hands (and forearms, and elbows)
of Kyle Woolley or one of Spa Vitale’s other licensed massage therapists for
one of San Francisco’s secret spa bargains. In a city where hotel spa massages generally run $120 and up, 50 minutes at the Vitale are $105 (and
10% less on weekdays before 3 P.M.). www.hotelvitale.com
—Jim Gladstone
PSYC, PARKER PALM SPRINGS
PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
I find it so refreshing when a spa doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love aromatherapy, koi ponds, and Zen gardens as much as the next gay, but sometimes
a spa should just be…fun. At the Palm Springs Yacht Club, you don’t have to
sacrifice quality treatments and luxury for a good time. But keep in mind that
the nearest marina is over 100 miles away. Now you get it, right? PSYC is situated on the sprawling grounds of the fashionable Parker Palm Springs, where
designer Jonathan Adler made his mark on every element of the property, from
the hidden Bocce courts, to a communal fire pit, to the spa’s nautical theme.
Inside this ’yacht club,’ restrooms are referred to as ’the head,’ the spa manager
goes by Commander, even the treatment rooms are named after America’s Cup
winners. I’m not sure how the complimentary shot of chilled cucumber vodka
fits into the nautical theme, but it worked for me. Spa guests enjoy a large
indoor saltwater pool area with heated spas, a stylish pool-side lounge with
complimentary use of iPads, and separate men’s and women’s saunas and steam
rooms. Your therapist collects you from the “Dark Room,” a dimly lit relaxation
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the world’s most sensational spas
Terranea
parlor with chilled eye masks. Ali, my massage therapist, was the best I’ve had
in Palm Springs. Quiet and confident, she inquired about my music and pressure preferences, and got to work on my Tailor Made 60-Minute Massage (60
min/$150). If you’re feeling peckish after your treatment, take a seat at the spa’s
outdoor garden patio and order from The Deck menu. A Pimms Cup cocktail is
the specialty post-massage drink here; ordered with a splash of bitters—it helps
greatly with seasickness. www.theparkerpalmsprings.com
—Joseph Schmitt
TERRANEA
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA
To get “far from the madding crowd,” relaxation-seeking Los Angelenos plan a
long jaunt to Santa Barbara or San Diego, completely missing the local natural
oasis of the Palos Verdes peninsula. LA’s Terranea is a 102-acre ocean-side
resort (the former site of Marineland of the Pacific) with 260 luxury rooms plus
additional bungalows providing an accessible Mediterranean-style escape. The
spa is 50,000 square feet with 25 treatment rooms plus three VIP suites (imagine copper soaking tubs in front of picture windows, crashing surf, fireplace,
Swiss shower, etc…). The spa boasts an adults-only, ocean-view pool, outdoor
lounges, fire pits, private cabanas, spa cafe, boutique and salon, and a huge
workout facility/gym, all taking advantage of that million-dollar view. Separate
men’s and women’s relaxation areas each have a redwood sauna and herbal
steam room plus alfresco whirlpool, cold plunge, and fire pit. El Segundo Blue
(90 min/$285) is one of many locally inspired treatments (signature rituals are
geared toward morning or evening rhythms) using natural ingredients sourced
from the sea. Opening with a full-botanical aromatherapy massage in an enormous treatment room, a silver space blanket comes out for a blue-clay wrap as
my body is buttered with warm sea minerals then cocooned with blankets as the
therapist goes to town with a scalp and neck massage. All good things must end,
so into the 13-head in-room shower I go to rinse away the clay and return to the
table for final moisturizing. Vegging out afterward by the fireplace overlooking
the surf is sublime. www.terranea.com
—Andrew Mersmann
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
EAU SPA, THE RITZ-CARLTON
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA
South Beach gets all the attention for its trendsetting hotels and spas, but
South Florida’s most avant garde, design-savvy spa resides farther north, in
prestigious Palm Beach. Breaking the mold of Palm Beach’s traditional disposition, the 42,000-square-foot Eau Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach
exudes edginess, modernism, and an explosive hip design factor that would
make Philippe Starck jealous! Baroque patterns, dramatic, whimsical furnishings, and chandeliers built from upside down crystal wine glasses are
just the beginning of this Alice in Wonderland fantasy. The co-ed outdoor
water garden is strewn with chic, cushioned steel swings, elevated such that
your feet brush the water as you sway in style. The indoor Bath Lounge
includes a collection of heated, stone loungers surrounding a massive hot
tub fed by rain showers (and accessorized with the full modern family of
rubber duckies). The steam room glows from the reflection of mosaic tiles
on a steamy disco ball. It’s then you begin your Choose You Own Spa
Adventure in the 19 treatment rooms with bespoke music selections and
color therapy, after downing your complimentary glass of welcome
Champagne of course. Massages are customized. The Cornelia Signature
Self-Centered Massage (60 min/$160; 90 min/$235) allows you to direct
your therapist on the varying degrees and combinations of Swedish,
Shiatsu, and deep-tissue you’d like to experience. At the D-I-Y scrub and
polish bar, a resident body chemist aides you in crafting your own compound from salts, spices, and detoxifying agents before application in an
ensuing treatment. If chemistry is not your thing, simply opt for the Honey
Citrus Body Polish (60 min/$160) for the perfect exfoliating combination
of oils and salts. www.eauspa.com
—Paul Rubio
HALELE’A SPA, ST. REGIS PRINCEVILLE
KAUAI, HAWAII
The sun dips behind palm-covered mountains and its shimmering light
reflects in the rolling waves of Hanalei Bay. What could possibly compete
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the world’s most sensational spas
with this stunning display of natural beauty? There’s no greater testament
to the wonders of the Halele’a Spa at the St. Regis Princeville than the
fact that you won’t care if you miss the view outside. Tucked into a treatment suite, you’ve got your own private paradise. Considering its affiliation
with the St. Regis, a property always at the top of world’s best lists and a
true celebrity hideaway, it’s not surprising that the Halele’a Spa provides
luxurious services in state-of-the-art facilities. For example, the miraculous
Nani Oxygen Infusion Facial (60 min/$210) permeates your skin with
healthful, rejuvenating serums via soothing blasts of oxygen, as if airbrushing a photo but in real life. The highly trained technician smoothes and
fills, line by line, until ten years literally disappear from your face.
However, it’s not the cutting edge techniques that make Halele’a stand
out—it’s the atmosphere of sincere kindness from every staff member that
you’ll remember. During a Halele’a Custom Massage (60 min/$165), the
massage therapist gently inquires about your needs with real concern as the
air fills with one of four carefully chosen Akassa Oils: ginger, rosemary,
cinnamon, or black pepper. Healing strokes relieve tension just as delicately shared stories of island culture restore a sense of peace. At one point, the
technician recites a Hawaiian prayer, part of which translates to, “I ask for
great blessing on this man or woman / that they be surrounded by love and
care…renewed through this healing touch.” Uplifting and intensely personal, these words are sincerely meant, and soothing warmth as wondrous as
any sunset. www.stregisprinceville.com/spa
—Thomas Mizer
ELYSIAN SPA, WALDORF ASTORIA
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
The next time you’re in Chicago, check out the fourth-floor Elysian Spa &
Health Club at the Waldorf Asroria. Whatever time of year, this is a wonderful place in which to disappear completely, if only temporarily, from the
hustle and bustle of the city below. At 14,000 square feet it’s like Candyland
for stressed out adults (who have some cash to spend). Try this: Book a Spa
Shave with Oscar, a third-generation master barber who has previously
worked at both Gillette and the Art of Shaving. Oscar doesn’t deliver your
everyday buzz cut. In addition to giving you a top-notch trim, the treatment
doubles as a facial and he is full of knowledge and stories about the techniques and products used in the treatment (30 min/$45). When it comes to
massage, one of my favorites here is their Lava Shell Massage. Using warm
lava shells, your therapist will glide them across your body to alleviate muscle tension and increase blood circulation. (60/90 min/$220-$285).
Afterward hit up the private men’s sauna, steam room or whirlpool or relax
in the lounge where fancy snacks, beverages, and reclining chairs await. A
day pass includes access to both the sun deck and fitness center and also in
and out privileges. Yes, this means you may feel free to soak, shop nearby
Michigan Avenue, then return to the Elysian and soak some more.
www.waldorfastoria.hilton.com
—Jason Heidemann
KING SPA & SAUNA
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
While soaking in a perfectly piping hot whirlpool, every care and worry
melting as quickly as snow in April, I struck up a conversation with an airline pilot who told me he was en route to Los Angeles via Europe when
inclement weather in the Midwest forced a landing in Chicago. The clearly
stressed pilot told me he was instructed by a coworker to get in a cab and
get to King Spa and Sauna immediately. He was given good advice. This
traditional and squeaky clean Korean sauna, which operates 24/7 is
Chicagoland’s newest “chicken soup for the soul” located just 16 miles
from downtown Chicago and 11 miles from O’Hare International Airport.
Toss away your cares and your clothing and have an au natural soak in your
choice of cold, warm, or hot whirlpools, or hit the steam room for additional relaxation. Afterward, hit the coed spa where you can try out an array of
thrilling, albeit kitschy looking, themed saunas like the chilly Ice Room, the
Zen-like Amethyst Room, or a half-a-dozen others. You can snooze in one
of the relaxation rooms (many of the Korean clientele aren’t shy about
spending the night here) catch a film in the movie theatre, or grab a bite of
bibim-bab in the food court, all for just $25 (body scrubs start at $45 and
massages start at $80). www.kingspa.com
—Jason Heidemann
FOUR SEASONS BALTIMORE
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
When Four Seasons officially opened earlier this year, it brought a level of
luxury that, for the most part, lacked in Baltimore, and includes the first
celebrity chef restaurant (Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga’s collaboration,
Pabu) and many rooms with balconies, a rarity in the Harbor East neighborhood. The hotel’s claim to fame, however, is its spa. The Splash Terrace
(Four Seasons Baltimore is unabashedly an urban resort) includes a heated,
121-foot infinity pool, a wrap-around deck and the Splash Pool Bar & Grill.
It’s the only hotel in the area to offer such outdoor sanctuary. Furthermore,
the hotel flaunts commanding views of the harbor, and the second terrace
level offers cabana rentals and an outdoor, eight-person hot tub. After kicking back with the signature strawberry jalapeño margarita and eye flirting
with the handful of other gay visitors, I made my grand entrance (via highceiling, wide hallways) into the 10,000-square-foot spa. After detoxing in
the mosaic-clad Aroma steam room (which periodically releases steam
infused with aromatherapy oils), I took advantage of the Finnish rock sauna,
then plunged in the intimate therapy pools (ranging in temperature and
increasing circulation). There’s also a Lifestyle Shower with options like
body jets, Tropical Rain, and Arctic Mist, and a quiet, meditative Tea
Lounge destined to put you in the “zone.” My therapist arrived and escorted me to one of the eleven treatment rooms (there are two suites with deepsoaking pools and one VIP suite, which has its own balcony with views of
the harbor—a must for couples). I easily surrendered to the signature
Harbor Salt Scrub and Warm-Oil Massage (110 min/$255) that melted my
muscles before I could say John Waters. I’m usually a fan of deep tissue but,
after a soothing scrub, this warm oil massage really hit home with tension
release. Because I had recently taken five flights within three weeks, I opted
for the Rehydrator Facial (50 min/$145), which used one of my favorite
skincare brands, ESPA. The spa also recently partnered with B Kamins for
other signature facials, something I’ll be happy to return for. That, and the
VIP suite, of course. www.fourseasons.com/baltimore
—Jimmy Im
THE SPA, GLENMERE MANSION
CHESTER, NEW YORK
In transforming the circa-1911 Glenmere Mansion into their grand country house hotel, owners Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone introduced
design elements from their favorite boutique hotels around the world. For
the Relais & Châteaux property’s 8,000-square-foot spa, the innkeepers
reached back to the ritualized bathing techniques of antiquity in creating
their signature Hammam treatments. Modeled after Greek and Roman baths
and popularized by the Turks some 800 years ago, the Hammam (60
min/$195) is often a requisite cleansing and purifying activity before entering a mosque. Did I just say religious experience? It began routinely
enough, sipping tea in the playfully decorated Relaxation Room before my
spa attaché escorted me to the Bath House. Then, an hour’s delight like
never before. After an introductory steam, I lay down on the heated marble
belly stone, where my attaché dished warm water about my body. Spiky
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the world’s most sensational spas
Glenmere Mansion Spa
es solely on the clogged pores and blackheads accumulated there by exfoliating, applying a hydrating masque, and deep cleaning the skin. You’ll be
twisting and turning to look at your revived and moisturized torso.
Afterward, guests can go back to the lounge for a glass of Prosecco or
cognac, but take advantage of your special access to the private guestsand-members-only rooftop garden, where you can take in the awesome
views of the New York City skyline and order a post-pampering snack
from Café Boulud, headed by wunderkind Chef Daniel Boulud, of course.
www.corneliaspaatthesurrey.com
—Chanize Thorpe
Photo: Tria Giovan
THE SPA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
blond and tastefully tattooed, she was Daryl Hannah’s character from Blade
Runner. My imagination ran wilder still as she sponge-squeezed soap bubbles all over, using a traditional Kessa mitt, woven with bamboo fibers, to
gently exfoliate my skin: eyes shut, I was an eagle, soaring high above the
hotel’s luxurious grounds. Back on the belly stone, more rinsing and light
oil massage to finish. The spa’s other lavish, healing services include The
Glenmere Man, a five-treatment set exclusively “for him.” And speaking of
“hymns,” I swore I heard angels singing as I flew to heaven and back on
those Hammam-inspired eagle wings. www.glenmeremansion.com
—Jeff Heilman
CORNELIA SPA, THE SURREY HOTEL
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Located inside the swank Surrey Hotel on Madison Avenue the Cornelia
Spa is a petite five-room haven with only a few loungers in the relaxation
area where yummy snacks like lemon cookies, smoked almonds, and their
signature papaya pomegranate ginger tea are served before clients are lead
to the treatment rooms and suites that rival New York apartments in size.
The therapists all offer a spoonful of Cornelia’s special artisanal honey,
touting some health benefits, but it just sweetened me up for my treat to
come, The Champagne & Pearl Sugar Glow (60 min/$175). Climbing on
top of the heated bed draped with a heather grey Scottish lambs wool
throw on top, I willed myself to stay awake while the mother-of-pearl body
polishing powder was applied to my skin and worked its gentle exfoliating
magic. After I rinsed off and returned, I felt smooth and alert, but that all
changed when the Champagne oil was applied. In minutes I was out like a
light and when it was over I glowed like I’d had Champagne wishes and
caviar dreams, indeed. The spa also offers a Purifying Back Treatment (60
min/$175), great for those who workout and sweat a lot and can’t always
scrub hard to reach back areas. The result? Backacne. The therapist focus-
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
Upon entering The Spa at Mandarin Oriental New York, a super-sweet gay
guy greets me. “When you walk in here, leave the outside world behind” he
says as he replaces my snow-covered boots with comfy slippers. Inside, the
spa is quite spacious for a New York City spa. On one floor, there is a nice
fitness center and the star of the show is the 75-foot lap pool with floor-toceiling windows with Hudson River views. There is also, my favorite, a
96.8-degree, vitality pool. I relax as the bubbling, oxygenated water works
to massage my muscles and creates smoother skin. Then, I hop into the
Amethyst Crystal steam room that truly transports. I choose to receive a
facial, and my therapist, the masterful Cheryl, can’t seem to hide her excitement about treating me. She guides me through what she thinks my skin
needs, and she recommends the eco-conscious Nature’s Radiant Facial (50
min/$225 weekday) over the more chemical-filled Opulent Rejuvenesence
(80 min/$450 weekday). Mixing a gorgeous set of natural botanicals to
clean my skin, she opens up my pores with both traditional steam and then
uses ultrasonic exfoliation that tickles as it brushes out impurities. After the
traditional cleansing, she does an unforgettable lymphatic-draining organic
seed oil massage. “You want all the bells and whistles,” she asks. “Oh do I!”
I say. She treats the bags under my eyes with a small electric current and for
at least two weeks, afterward I lost my oh-you-look-tired eyes. For those
who are not staying at the hotel, I would suggest having a car service waiting for you—taking the subway afterward really dampens the experience.
www.mandarinoriental.com
—Joseph Pedro
OLD EDWARDS INN & SPA
HIGHLANDS, NORTH CAROLINA
When you’re consistently voted as the best spa in North America—Condé
Nast Traveler recently named it the number one spa with a perfect score (the
first time ever in the history of the awards)—you’re expected to deliver.
This was my attitude when I checked in to Old Edwards Inn & Spa in
Highlands, a remote resort town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The hotel is
comfortably rustic with 58 rooms (from suites to cottages), furnished with
antique period pieces and equipped with top amenities. The spa, which lures
visitors from around the world, features 11 treatment rooms, a comfortable
lounge with fireplace and light fare to boot. Add to this a “meditation room"
with water fountain and both a men and women’s lounge, each respectively
equipped with saltwater pool, sauna, and steam room, as well as those rain
showers that seem to have dozens of jets coming from every which way.
Having visited hundreds of spas across the country, I had incredibly high
expectations, all of which, as you can imagine, were effortlessly met. After
a yoga class (the adjacent, fully equipped, bi-level fitness center offers daily,
complimentary classes) and a quick swim in their outdoor, saltwater pool,
the spa had my name all over it. My first therapist, Kyra, led me to my treatment room for an Asian Deep Therapy Massage (50 min/$145) or, as it’s
more universally known, ashiatsu. Not only did I book this treatment
because the spa menu has several Asian influences (even acupuncture), but
this treatment is rather difficult to find in the states. With bars attached to
the ceiling, Kyra used her feet to stroke my back, legs, and glutes, which not
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the world’s most sensational spas
Old Edwards Inn and Spa
goat hair mitt treatment I’d had at a bathhouse in Istanbul. Then warmed
river stones were placed on my back, arms, and legs. Next came an invigorating Swedish massage. My request for “deep tissue” kneading was met
with one of the most knot-releasing massages I’d ever had. After that came
a gold dusting in the form of more of the 24-Karat gold infusion rubbed
into the skin of my arms, neck, and shoulders. Again, the dewy look that
one of my friends said looked like I’d just come from making love, lasted a
long time. Even on one of those long connecting flights across the US back
to NY, my companion said “Well, you might feel tired, but your skin looks
fabulous!” www.eldoradohotel.com
—Gretchen Kelly
THE SPA, MANDARIN ORIENTAL
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
only releases toxins and stimulates the body’s natural healing capabilities,
but it’s the deepest massage treatment available in the world. Often, the
elbow used in a deep-tissue massage can only go so far, but a foot has more
reach, not to mention more comfort. Before I fully submitted into a black
hole of permanent ecstasy, I met my other therapist, Natalie, for the signature Journey to Bliss facial (80 min/$230). Bliss is perhaps an understatement as I was treated to a foot massage and scrub, and hand and neck massage while my facial included about eight steps with all-natural Hamala
brand, including toning, face mask and exfoliation with Clarisonic. As for
being the best spa in North America? You’ll have to visit to find out for
yourself. You definitely won’t regret it. www.oldedwardsinn.com/spa
—Jimmy Im
THE NIDAH SPA, EL DORADO HOTEL
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
After a day exploring the City Different, I returned to the El Dorado for my
signature “gold spun treatments” at the Nidah Spa (Nidah means “your
life” in a local Native American dialect). Keith Murray, one of the spa’s top
masseurs explained the treatments to me. Keith, fresh off the plane from the
London Olympics had just come from massaging the US Tennis Team to
Olympic gold. Now he was detailing how the gold massages and facial I
was about to undergo would open my pores, balance my chakras, and leave
me glowing. “It’s the negative ions in the 24-carat gold we use,” he said.
“They help the skin cells absorb the product.” He said the El Dorado has
been doing these signature gold treatments since its inception about seven
years ago and that they were one of the only spas in the country to do them.
After relaxing in the darkened, sanctuary room off the spas’ entrance on the
main floor of the hotel’s art-filled Southwest deco-style lobby, I was led to
a spare and spotless room where my therapist, Irene, had me undress to the
waist in preparation for the gold spun facial (80 min/$275). She deftly
exfoliated all the red dust of Santa Fe from my face with products containing 24-carat gold particles. Then came the gold collagen mask, which lay
on my face cool and rejuvenating, for about 30 minutes. The gold infusion
was also laid on my neck, upper arms, and décolleté while Irene massaged
my hands, shoulders, and neck with local desert sage oils. It smelled heavenly, like those perfumed “smudging” bundles of sage and cedar you see
everywhere in Santa Fe shops. Afterward, at a performance of “Tosca” at
the Santa Fe Opera, as a Southwestern sun slipped down through a vermillion sky, my companion said, “You really are glowing. Your skin looks really dewy.” Although the actual gold did not stay on the surface of my skin,
I felt the deep penetration of the oils that Keith had mentioned. The next
day came the spa’s Gold Spun Massage (80 min/$180). First, I was ‘dry
brushed’ to increase my circulation, a brisk rub which reminded me of a
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PASSPORT I OCTOBER 2012
Part of Las Vegas’ architecturally striking City Center development, the
Mandarin Oriental embodies a classy, contemporary splash of Asian hospitality, design, and high standards. Occupying the property’s seventh and
eighth floors, the 27,000-square-foot Spa represents a 1930s Shanghai
design scheme in its décor with black pattern-cut wood, raw pumpkin seed
greens, deep purples, statues, and Vivienne Tam’s staff uniforms. The wow
factor is boosted by floor-to-ceiling views of the strip from several sections
and areas, including treatment rooms. Reason enough to visit the Spa is its
Thermal Experiences facilities. These include five Experience Showers
that are genuinely cinematic with their interplay of lighting, aromas,
sound, and varied deliveries of the water itself (from startling chilly mist to
rainforest downpour); an ice chip fountain; herbal aromatherapy steam
room; Roman-style Tepidarium Chairs overlooking the Strip; a heated
Vitality Pool, also with views; a 140-degree heated Laconium Room; and,
for an additional charge, a gorgeously futuristic-looking marble Hammam
with optional body scrub treatments ($150 with treatment, $100 w/o). The
Hammam can also be booked for parties of eight or less. There is also a
Hibachi and Hemlock wood sauna in the men only area. Signature spa
therapies, conceived with Chinese medicine and aromatherapy experts,
include bespoke Time Rituals (1hr 50min/$350 or 3hrs/$500) that combine
various types of massage, scrubs, and baths to the client’s preferences. A
Male Grooming treatment menu boasts the Stress Buster (110min/$330),
High-Roller (90 min/$280), and Men’s Purifying Facial, Shoulder, and
Scalp Massage (60min/$200). The latter is superb for knocking out toxins
and sleep deprivation. After softening up with steamed hot towels, an acupressure face massage, a purifying mask follows, and then both scalp and
shoulders are treated to a deep, tension-destroying massage. You won’t
want it to end. FYI: the cost listings included here are for weekends; weekday prices are typically less expensive. Either way, you’ve hit the jackpot.
www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/spa
—Lawrence Ferber
QUA BATHS & SPA, CAESAR’S PALACE
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Inspired by the baths of ancient Rome and harmoniously given a modern
spin, the Qua Baths & Spa at the fabulous Caesar’s Palace is a lavish
escape where visitors can relax and revitalize with a wide range of unique
spa experiences. Qua is also the ideal location for relaxed social spa-ing, a
newer concept in the spa world. One of the first things you’ll see as you
enter the men’s or women’s areas is the signature Roman Baths, which consist of three mineral pools that vary in temperature and size, and are surrounded by chic lounge chairs. Walk along the smooth stone floors to the
main whirlpool, a relaxing tearoom, and the only place where it snows in
Vegas year-round, the Arctic Ice Room. The room is chilled to 55-degrees,
offers stone heated benches, and taps into the benefits of cold therapy,
which is useful after a heated treatment to improve circulation. All of these
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the world’s most sensational spas
amenities and more, such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, are included
for use before and after a spa appointment. With the helpful attendants and
artisans throughout, there is always a chance to ask about which of the
amenities goes best with your treatment. During my visit, I had the pleasure of receiving the Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi massage (75 min/$225). Based
on concepts of working with the body, mind, and spirit, this relaxing experience incorporates a full body massage that incorporates arm and leg
stretches and pulls. Another option to explore is the exclusive AURASOMA line, which combines massage and aromatherapy with the natural
healing powers of color and light, and only found at Qua in the US. The
Color Quest (75 min/$210) takes place in a room transformed into a multisensory experience using a scented pomander spray, and colorful ambient
glow lighting. A soothing massage incorporates aromatherapy essential oils
and light energy work. To experience a spa treatment with your partner,
there are private deluxe couple’s studios, where you can even rinse off
together in the couple’s specialty shower after treatments. Many treatments
are offered for a couple session, including a Lomi Lomi for two (90
min/$520 for both). www.harrahs.com/qua-caesars-palace
—Andrew Villagomez
THE SPA AND WELLNESS CENTER,
STOWE MOUNTAIN LODGE
STOWE, VERMONT
Mention Vermont and the words maple and syrup probably come to mind
and next thing you know you’re suddenly craving pancakes and apple-
wood bacon. So it’s no wonder the luxurious and enormous 18-room Spa
and Wellness Center at Stowe Mountain Lodge has a Vermont Maple
Syrup & Brown Sugar Scrub (50 min/$150), on its impressive menu—it’s
an instant draw. Whether the goal is to maintain that summer glow after
a season of hiking and biking the trails just outside the resort or in the
nearby Green Mountains, or to exfoliate a layer of winter après ski skin
after spending time on the many slopes, this treatment hits the spot.
Using the locally produced, all-natural Versante maple syrup and brown
sugar scrub, the therapist applies a generous layer of the fragrant exfoliant all over your body in one of the spas Vichy-shower equipped rooms.
Once the product has penetrated the skin, it’s washed off, and a nearly
lick-able vanilla-scented cream is massaged into the skin, leaving it baby
soft. Take the time to bliss out afterward in the cozy spa lounge with its
fireplace and views of the outdoor pool and ski slopes. Once you leave
the premises, be warned, strangers may stop and tell you how good you
smell. Men around these parts tend to spend a lot of time outdoors yearround, whether for snowboarding, cross-country skiing, or other fitness
fun, so keeping their face protected from all types of weather elements is
a must. The spa’s Moroccan Focus Facial (25/50 min $95/$150) is specifically for the gents and uses Australian argan oil that has anti-ageing
properties. The treatment starts with a deep cleaning and purifying clay
mask to remove impurities, then a moisturizer with Sandalwood is
applied to reduce inflammation from any rough and tumble activities,
and the non-scented oil is used at the end to leave his face silky smooth.
www.stowemountainlodge.com
—Chanize Thorpe
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