THE MANDARA SPA, THE WALT DISNEY WORLD SWAN & DOLPHIN HOTEL
Trips to Orlando generally include traipsing through magic lands, fatty foods, and waiting in lines for the opportunity to terrify yourself. A spa visit is essential, so make it a point to visit The Mandara Spa in The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotel. This elegant oasis is exactly what is needed after a long day in Fantasyland or before you venture to an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. With a gorgeous Balinese design, the spa features two interior gardens: the Asian Bale and the Meru Temple. Both are lush and peaceful; the perfect place to relax before your treatment. Mandara offers a full spa menu including several specialties including the Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial (60 min/$185)—good for all types of skin. The treatment resurfaces your skin and gently exfoliates the top layer. Soothing and smoothing, it is refreshing and essential, as is The Mandara Ritual of the Hands and Feet (120 min/$130), which features a two-hour manicure and pedicure. Also not to be missed is the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage (100 min/$265), a wonderful body detox treatment. Once you are securely wrapped in seaweed, you’ll receive a relaxing and meticulous scalp and foot massage. After your treatment, head to the private shower room to complete the rejuvenation process. If you’re traveling with children, the purchase of any spa service lasting 75 minutes or more entitles your children to two hours of free fun at Camp Dolphin, a supervised “kids club” with games, movies, video arcades, and more. They play while you unwind. www.mandaraspa.com.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANA‘I AT MANELE BAY
It’s the most gorgeous day on a stunning Hawaiian island, so of course I’m going to choose to have my massage outdoors in the breezy Oceanside Hale, overlooking Hulopoe Bay. Here at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay, the service and facilities are all extraordinary, as you would expect from the Four Seasons brand, but you never really want to be inside. Sure, you check in at the spa just steps away from the beautiful pool deck, and here indoors you’ll find an abundance of soothing relaxation options if you have, perhaps, overdone it in the sun. There are 11 treatment rooms, a large shop with intoxicating smells, and men’s and women’s cedar sauna, eucalyptus steamroom, and rainforest showers. All this mood lighting and soft music is so very at odds with the sparkling bay, crashing waves, and warm tradewinds just outside, so it feels like a return to the actual island when my therapist leads me back outdoors, along a narrow grass path hemmed in by colorful flowers, to the canvas and wood cabana that creaks and billows in the breeze like a soothing sailboat. Tiny birds flit around and even perch on the railing of this hideaway, curious about why this man seems so blissed out as he’s being covered in aromatic oil. I highly recommend the Signature Makala (it means to loosen) massage (50 min/$165, 80 min/$230) to abolish travel tension. As a Four Seasons spa, there is a wide menu of treatments from which to choose for face and body, and swell packages combining some of both for a full day disappearing act. You probably won’t treat yourself this well when you are back home, but here on the euphoric island of Lana’i, you’ll never regret indulging. www.fourseasons.com/manelebay.
THE SPA AT TRAVAASA HANA
After you drive Maui’s infamous Road to Hana, perhaps white-knuckling it around some edgy blind corners, your best antidote to the stress is to book a massage at Travaasa Experiential Resort. Hopefully your travel wisdom has led you to book a few nights’ stay here as well, but if you can only dive into the relaxation element, you’ll still be awfully glad you did. It may have been wrong to ask my massage therapist if I might take her hands home with me, but I wished I could. Our couple’s massage was a blend of traditional Swedish and signature lomilomi traditions (60 min/$130, 90 min/$185 per person), performed with such assurance and grace I drifted into that over-used descriptor—nirvana. The spa shop has a wide variety of island local products as well as international brands, with the cocoa bean-based Amala line featured in body and facial treatments. Healing rituals are perfectly at home in this flower-filled, serene, blissful escape at land’s end. Men’s and women’s locker rooms have steam, cold plunge pool, and indoor plus outdoor lava rock showers. A co-ed lava rock Jacuzzi overlooks wide sloping lawns to the waves crashing on the coast. Take time to meander through the sprawling property on your way to the spa area. It is all winding paths and oases of calm, each re-framing the Pacific in some new way. Breathe the ion-charged ocean air perfumed with topical blooms and acres of bright green grass. You’ll already be so relaxed by the time your treatment begins, the team of intuitive therapists will be able to go even deeper in healing and revitalizing you. www.travaasa.com/hana .
MEN’S GROOMING PARLOR
With its rich, masculine tones and vintage photos of iconic hombres like Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, and Tom Selleck sprinkled throughout, owner and esthetician Matt Leyes likes to describe the décor at his boutique men’s day spa aimed at gay men as the retreat of a world adventurer. After spending a few minutes relaxing in his waiting room, Matt entered in his work apron and sat down with me to chat. To keep the atmosphere intimate, guest visits are one at a time at the Men’s Grooming Parlor and Matt likes to tailor each guest’s experience to include a one-on-one talk session as part of the therapy. Services include waxings (starting at $38 per 1/2 hour), trimmings, facials (starting at $99) and microdermabrasion. I opted for a custom-designed facial to rejuvenate a face burnt heavily by copious amounts of beach time. Matt led me into the treatment room where he gave me time to undress and get comfy. He and I chatted amiably as he scrubbed various lotions into my face, massaged my temples, and diligently removed blackheads from my skin with his fingers. It was so relaxing, I was in a daze afterward. He has a beautiful room for rinsing off and cleaning up, but this time around I just sat in silence and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked and felt great. www.mensgroomingparlor.com.
SPA INTERCONTINENTAL BOSTON
Boston is a great place to visit, whether for business or pleasure, and after a long day of meetings, shopping, or exploring, a wonderful spa is a great way to relax and rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit. SPA InterContinental Boston takes care of all this and more. Encompassing 6,600 square feet on the second level of the InterContinental Boston, this luxury hotel spa features a 24-hour Fitness Club with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Boston’s 21-acre green space, the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Following a nice workout using their state-of-the art weight and cardio training equipment, I headed for the 45-foot indoor heated lap pool. Swimming is one of my favorite past times, and the pool here, with its modern design and light-filled room, is an integral part of this urban oasis. After my swim, I entered the relaxation room to await my treatment. The blond woods used throughout the spa facility offer a clean and modern appeal with warm colors to assist in the relaxation process. SPA InterContinental has a great spa menu that covers everything from waxing and facials to manicures, pedicures, back facials, signature massages, and unique body rituals. I opted for their Hot Stone Massage (50 min/$145) where warm, soothing stones were placed strategically along my body during a very relaxing deep-pressure massage. Afterward, it was time to treat my sore feet from all the walking I did. Their Barefoot en Provence (25 min/$65) is the perfect therapeutic foot treatment. Lavender and honey are used as a scrub, mask, and soak to help clean, hydrate, and improve blood circulation. Total heaven!
FOUR SEASONS SPA
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
“Oh my God, you look like you weren’t out until 4 A.M. at all,” my coworker gushes to me after I stepped out of an all-star treatment at the Four Seasons Hotel Spa. Let’s face the facts. This is Vegas after all, so it’s more than likely you’re going to be waking up a little worse for wear. Located at the stunning Mandalay Bay complex, floors 35-39 are occupied by the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. When I arrive, I’m quickly escorted up to the 12,000-square-foot spa by a super-personable staff member and brought to a comfy changing room. I’m literally the only person in there. Hey, it pays to wake up at 8 A.M. on a Saturday in Vegas. After drinking some lemon-infused water, I’m escorted to the back room where I am met by Kim who takes one look at my bags under my eyes and says, we’ll fix that right up for you! I am quick to tell her that days of sleep don’t fix them, but she insists. “This is Vegas, I’ve fixed up worse things than those bags,” she quips. I get the Four Seasons Ultimate Facial (80min/$310), but Kim is extremely honest about what is going to work for my skin and what won’t. I am also asked to smell various products to ensure that I am comfortable with what she uses. I am ecstatic with the fruity exfoliant and a revel in the deep cleaning she gives my pores. Despite telling me that I absolutely don’t need the Nuface nonsurgical facelift plump mask that comes with my treatment, I insist that my face is getting all “line-y.” While my beauty mask is on she gives me a complimentary Eye Rescue add-on that uses a marine matrix sheet to instantly deflate puffy eyes. A burning cold sensation is refreshingly exciting and her shoulder, neck, arm, and hand massage gives me a natural high. www.fourseasons.com.
THE SAHRA SPA & HAMMAM
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Let’s get this slumber party started! If you’re planning a special sleepover in Vegas with a partner or pals, it’d be hard to get things off to a more sensual start than at the The Sahra Spa & Hammam. The most memorable moments of the signature Sahra Hammam Experience (2 1/2 hour/$380 per person) come when your sarong-clad therapists dip pillow case-like cloth sacks into a soapy serum, then whip them around until they’ve puffed up, full of frothy foam, and then they release it in two-foot-tall piles of bubbles atop your belly and chest. That’s just a bit of the soothing, slippery fun though. Before (and after) you enter the Turkish bath-inspired Hammam room, you’re welcome to spend some time in beautifully designed men’s and women’s wet areas, each with a large steamroom illuminated by pinpoint spotlights; a sleek, sprawling Jacuzzi with a rain shower pool; a dry sauna; and a cool mist room—perfect for following your time in the steam. Your therapists (male or female per request) will then lead you to the 1,200-square-foot, 103-degree Hammam chamber, centered around an enormous oval “motherstone”—a heated marble massage table, big enough to simultaneously accommodate up to four lucky guests, surrounded by their attendants. Lying first on your stomach, then on your back, towel draped and tucked around you loincloth-style, you’re exfoliated with a fragrant scrub incorporating coffee, lemon blossoms, and ground olive stones. You’re then literally bathed, as your attendant pours warm water over your body, moving from head to toe with a gleaming silver bowl. It makes you feel like a giant baby…and you won’t want Mama or Papa to stop. No worries, there’s still that bag ’o bubbles, a 20-minute break for private time in the Hammam’s own steam room or soaking tub, and a return to the stone for yet one more cardamom-scented rub-down. Sahra’s wide range of massages, facials, and body treatments ($150 and up) all include access to the wet areas, a lounge with light snacks, and a well-equipped fitness center, make it easy to while away an entire afternoon in this sanctuary on the Strip. www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/explore.
BASK SPA, REVEL
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY
With so many massive resorts in Atlantic City, it’s surprising that a truly transformative spa experience has been so hard to come by, until now. The Bask Spa at Atlantic City’s newest resort, Revel, has luxury-seeking guests ditching the noisy casino floors for a tranquil experience at the more than 3,000-square-foot spa playground. From detoxifying in the Himalayan salt grotto to lazing in the healing hydrotherapy waters, guests find time to recharge from the city that’s “Always Turned On.” I begin my half-day at Bask by taking deep breaths in the salt grotto where the cool pink salt walls and seats, through detoxification, help me revive even after an all-night party. Another option is to keep the party going and grab an organic specialty cocktail from the Bathhouse Bar and wade in the heated mineral pools. This is Atlantic City after all so the main facilities are coed and socializing is encouraged. Guests are escorted from the spa area to the treatment room. Here, I immediately feel at home thanks to my sweet-as-anything therapist who carefully examines my skin. Each Men’s Facial (60 min/$155) is customized based on skin type, and my therapist had no problem letting me know what’s wrong with my skin. After exhaustingly clearing my pores, she places cooling packs on my eyes to get rid of the puffiness and then proceeds to massage away everyday stresses. Feeling like I could have floated out of there, I take another couple of minutes to myself and enjoy the men-only areas that includes a steam room and plunge pool. Stepping out from the spa, the familiar sounds of slot machines aren’t even loud enough to kill my Zen, and I know I’m ready for another day taking on Atlantic City. www.revel.com.
NIDAH SPA, ELDORADO HOTEL
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
After exploring the ancient cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument and sampling the many tequilas at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, my rejuvenating visit to the Eldorado Hotel’s Nidah Spa was a welcome relief indeed. In the local Native American language, nidah means “your life,” which is exactly how Spa Director Susan Keene has designed her many treatments and services. Offering seven treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite and Vichy shower, along with its copper-and-gold entry that is inspired by El Dorado, New Mexico’s fabled “City of Gold,” Nidah proved as transporting as it had promised. Inspired by the region’s Native American healing techniques, Nidah brings indigenous ingredients into treatments like the Native Herb Bundles Massage (50 min/$145), where heated river stones placed in key Charka positions on my back charmed away my soreness. Liberating, too, was the Gentlemen’s Refine & Rebalance Facial (50 min/$135), a trance-inducing experience of dreamy touches and aromatic lotions and vapors. Finishing with a steam and leisurely sojourn in the relaxation lounge, I was a new man, ready for more Santa Fe, and the next day, more Nidah Spa. Channeling Shirley Eaton’s glittering turn in Goldfinger, I was gilded by Nidah’s signature Spun Gold Massage (80 min/$180) that finishes with the application of 24K gold-dust body lotion. Regal, too, was the Chili & Honey Wrap (50 min/$135) that uses a New Mexico staple, red chili powder, to energize the circulation. www.eldoradohotel.com.
LA TOURELLE RESORT AND SPA
ITHACA, NEW YORK
Scott Wiggins, the Managing director of La Tourelle Resort and Spa says “a big part of who we are is where we are”. Ithaca, New York, in the heart of the Finger Lakes, boasts an amazing array of wineries, great restaurants (Moosewood anyone?), gorges and waterfalls, funky bars, great performing arts, and a not-to-be-missed farmer’s market. La Tourelle is the perfect center of any trip to Ithaca. It’s a haven for relaxation from the moment you enter the rustic, inviting lobby. The August Moon Spa at La Tourelle offers a wide variety of spa experiences including an assortment of waterfall treatments, performed on a wet table. Warm water literally rains down on you during your scrub from six relaxing showerheads—soothing, invigorating, and not to be missed. Massages include Swedish, deep tissue, and the essential Finger Lakes grape seed oil treatment (chock full of antioxidants to help minimize aging skin). Waxings, wraps, therapeutic scrubs, and detailed skin-care treatments are all available. The spa is meticulously maintained with a sensitive and gifted staff. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 4 to 7 P.M., August Moon offers “Tranquility Hour”—a sort of zen happy hour with 20% off all 50-minute spa treatments. While at La Tourelle, be sure to visit The Bistro for a wonderful breakfast or lunch (brunch on the weekends) featuring “regional cuisine,” a showcase for the amazing local produce. www.latourelle.com.
AIRE ANCIENT BATHS
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
The exposed beams and flickering candles above me are what I remember most after visiting Aire Ancient Baths in TriBecA. That’s because of all the treatments designed to calm the nerves and replenish the spirit available at this Greek- and Roman-inspired bathhouse in Lower Manhattan, it was lying on my back in the salt water-infused flotarium where I was best able to shut out the hectic metropolis and find inner peace. At Aire, appointments are booked in two-hour slots starting at $75 and guests are taken underground to a 16,000-square-foot spa where no more than 25 people at a time are allowed (in hushed voices only) to enjoy a recreated ancient bathing ritual that starts with a propellor-jet bath, two cold plunges (one of which is chilled to an electrifying 46 degrees), two hot pools, a relaxation room, steam room, and the aforementioned flotarium (a decadent finale). Luxurious add-ons for both individuals and couples include two- and four-handed massages (45 min/$180, 60 min/$210) and get this: You can even arrange for a ritual soak in red wine, olive oil, Spanish Champagne, or a milk bath (210 min/$450), which includes both a massage and thermal bath experience. If it’s good enough to restore and rejuvenate a hardened New Yorker—we’ll take it. www.ancientbathsny.com.