Escape the season’s ups and downs with a rejuvenating spa getaway.
By Alice Shapin
All photos courtesy of each company
A trip to a spa, whether it’s a romantic interlude, a girlfriend’s getaway or a solo indulgence, is certain to bring balance to your body and mind. And after this harsh winter we need it more than ever. So shed your winter skin and luxuriate at one of these spas, be it in Virginia’s Hunt Country, New York City or the Southwestern desert.
The Newbie Retreat
As you come up the long driveway, you’ll think you were invited to entrepreneur Sheila Johnson’s private country estate. It’s only when you’re greeted by the doormen you realize you’ve arrived at the ultra-luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country.
Inside the front door, there is no reception desk in view. Instead, you walk through the hunt country-styled grand foyer with museum-like artwork and furniture, aged wood floors and equestrian-inspired chandeliers. The reception desk is tucked away off the foyer. As you walk through, you’ll see the rich wood library, the inviting living room with two enormous stone fireplaces, and the Gold Cup Wine Bar and Billiard Room. It’s all a feast for the eyes.
Johnson put her personal touch on every aspect of the resort. Some of the furniture, artwork and huge tapestries are from her private collection. Johnson’s goal was for the resort to be authentic to the area and look as though it has been there for decades. Stone, slate and stucco help to accomplish this. Some of the guest rooms have fireplaces; all are exceptionally large, feature walk-in showers with body jets and soaking tubs, plush sofas and luxurious bedding that wrap you in a feather-like cover. While you could easily relax in your room, pampering and revitalization of your mind and body await at the spa.
Continuing the equestrian theme, you are welcomed to the spa through beautiful barn-like wooden doors and gorgeous stone floors. A copper basin water feature brings the promise of cleansing, while the huge painting above the reception desk brings a sense of Zen and inner piece. Before your treatment, unwind in the spa relaxation area with rich wood floors and beams and huge windows overlooking the outdoor stone courtyard with the infinity-edged pool. Just outside there’s more relaxation complete with comfortable lounges and a fire pit.
Leave some time pre- or post-treatment to indulge in the “Heat, Water and Experience” area. Immerse yourself in the deep ocean blue-and-gray tiled “Vitality Pool” with Hydrotherapy jets, a 12-foot domed ceiling and infrared lighting, or enjoy the aroma-infused sauna, steam or experience shower where you’ll be invigorated with your choice of tropical rain or arctic mist. Stretch out on the sleek and heated tiled Tepidarium Lounges. The spa has 13 treatment rooms including a spacious couple’s suite with a gas fireplace, pedestal tub, multi-jet shower, wrap-around stone patio, garden and whirlpool. Prior to your treatment, you can order Champagne, cheese, chocolate strawberries or lunch and luxuriate in your surroundings. If you’re having a treatment and want lunch, enjoy it downstairs in a quiet area or poolside when good weather permits.
A varied menu of treatments include contouring body wraps, rebalancing neck and scalp massage, blueberry anti-aging facial, and couple’s massage.
For casual dining head to the Gold Cup Wine Bar that showcases Virginia wines and serves locally inspired small plates. Equestrian-styled Harriman’s offers panoramic views of the property and fresh seasonal ingredients. Farm-to-table could never be fresher with the chef’s garden located just outside the restaurant. And for something different, the resort has a state-of-the art cooking studio with culinary classes.
Oasis in the Sky
The elevator at New York’s Peninsula hotel whisks you high above the hustle and bustle of the city to the 35,000-square-foot trilevel spa on the 21st floor. The door opens to reveal a softly lit serene retreat. Chic and sophisticated, the design presents deep tones in the use of marble, warm woods and colors of cinnabar, amber and charcoal. In the reception area the chairs are sculptural pieces, hand-carved from salvaged acacia trees. Amazingly comfortable, you’ll want to run your hands over the ultra-smooth wood. A three-story glass-and-wood curved staircase leads to the salon, glass-enclosed pool with panoramic city views, the wrap-around Sun Terrace, and the large well-equipped fitness center overlooking Manhattan.
Pre-treatment, enjoy the Asian Tea Lounge and the Thermal Suite with its aromatherapy steam room, sauna, experience shower and ice fountain set against the 24-karat gold mosaic backdrop. The heat and cooling experiences are designed to cleanse the skin, relax and prepare the body and mind for the treatments.
The spa has 11 treatment rooms: seven have private showers, and a private suite features a luxurious steam shower and double whirlpool bath. Tension will vanish with the varied menu of treatments. In addition to Swedish and other massages, the spa offers “Peninsula Ceremonies.” These treatments are derived from Peninsula destinations around the world such as “The Yang Soother” and “Yin Uplifter,” signature treatments of The Peninsula Hong Kong, to help restore balance to the body and mind. Damage from the harsh winter weather is washed away with the specialized facials. Finally, your hands and feet will thank you for one of the specialized manicures and pedicures in the new nail suite.
The Peninsula Spa has partnered with the French luxury skin care company Biologique Recherche and now offers treatments designed especially for areas of the body that require extra attention: neck, décolleté, hands and upper arms.
Perhaps the piéce-de-résistance are the relaxing beds. After your treatment you can rest in these cocoon-like beds with down comforters, Frette linens, personal sound systems and lighting — it’s heaven on earth.
The Peninsula New York is housed in a Beaux-Arts 1905 landmark property with a façade of limestone carvings, copper cornices and Doric columns. While the hotel has old world charm, the guestrooms are all 21st century. Bedside control panels allow you to set the lighting, temperature, television, stereo system and whether or not you wish to be disturbed. The deluxe marble bathrooms have a television inset above the bath and the bedding is by the high-end French linen house, D. Porthault.
The Peninsula offers a variety of dining experiences. You can order healthy dishes poolside. For incredible views, Salon De Ning bar on the rooftop features two outdoor terraces and an intimate interior bar. At the Gotham Lounge enjoy Peninsula Afternoon Tea. The newest dining experience is Clement. Different open rooms give the restaurant the feel of a New York home. The menu is inspired by the seasons with ingredients from the Northeast. Dine on such dishes as heirloom beets with farmhouse yogurt, beet gazpacho and lemon vinaigrette and Hudson apple crisp with cranberry pecan crumble and orange buttermilk cream.
Red Rock Wellness
As you reach Sedona, Arizona, it’s as though a curtain went up revealing the city of Oz, only instead of green, it’s red, red majestic rock. Rugged, towering red rock formations and trees of the Boynton Canyon and Coconino National Forest create the backdrop for the world-class destination, Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa.
The 24,000-square-foot Mii amo Spa is comprised of a two-level main building, 16 adobe casitas including two 1,500-square-foot Mii amo Spa Suites featuring private treatment rooms overlooking a private courtyard and a whirlpool. Each guestroom has a private balcony or courtyard, a gas fireplace, and deep soaking tubs. All guestrooms feature uncluttered simplicity allowing you to focus on your journey.
In addition, Enchantment Resort, adjacent to the spa, has 218 rooms and all resort guests can utilize the Mii amo Spa facilities and schedule treatments.
Nestled in the canyon, the spa’s design incorporates simple lines, monumental forms, and natural materials like adobe brick, wood and indigenous stone to blend with the surrounding environment. Natural light and water are recurring themes, and interior and exterior spaces flow into one another.
Guests can choose from three-, four- or seven-night journey packages that include accommodations, three daily meals, two spa treatments daily, a private consultation, fitness classes, activities, lectures, nightly gifts and use of spa facilities.
The name says it all. “Mii amo,” is a Yuman term meaning “to continue one’s path; moving forward; or journey.” The spa programs reflect the Southwest’s healing culture and embrace the surrounding natural beauty. It’s here you can restore body and soul.
On the ground level of the spa facility is the indoor pool with fireplace, outdoor pool and spa whirlpool with an open deck and spectacular canyon views. Also, on this level is the fitness and movement studio, and grassy lawn for yoga, stretching and fitness classes. Twenty treatment rooms are located on the second level and have either windows overlooking the canyon or natural light wells.
Highly trained therapists use Mii amo signature blends of oils and lotions, natural ingredients and Native American traditional practices. Treatments last 60 or 90 minutes and include massage, Reiki, Cranial Sacral, hydrotherapy baths, body treatments, Ayurvedic treatments, Watsu and unique specialty services.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast or want to try something new, there are more than 100 activities and classes offered weekly. Classes include cooking, tea tasting, and the newest, Juicing 101, which teaches the benefits of juicing. On the must-do list is a guided hike where you can take in the eye-popping views and just maybe be lucky enough to hear the flute player sitting at the vortex.
The Crystal Grotto is the heart and soul of Mii amo. The circular space connects earth and sky via an earthen floor and domed ceiling with a circular aperture directed at the sun on the summer solstice. The circle is a symbol of wholeness, and the Crystal Grotto is used as a place for morning ritual and evening meditation.
Dining is delicious and healthy. Try the ahi tuna sashimi and grilled asparagus with a glass of Prosecco. The open kitchen sets the relaxed mood. Solo travelers looking for a little company can try the communal table. During the day, enjoy one of the seven juices, eight luscious fruit smoothies or fresh wheatgrass (1-ounce shot, suggested to be had before a meal).