Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 Spa Hotels Worldwide 2004


Spas, like the people who visit them, come in all shapes and sizes. There are day spas, destination resort spas, and our favorite, the hotel spa. What could be better than a stay in a luxury hotel that features the ultimate amenity: a spa. There’s no need to get in your car and hit the busy streets once you’re done luxuriating. Simply wander back to your room for a bit of room service or a nap. With so many hotel spas on offer, it can feel impossible to choose. Let us help with our selective list of the very best.

CHICAGO, IL
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THE SPA AT THE CARLTON CLUB:
The Ritz Carlton, Chicago



There is a very specific requirement for urban spas—they must, above all else, be an oasis, a means of escape from the city crowds. This sanctuary-like quality at The Spa at the Carlton Club in Chicago has been enhanced with a $2.5 million, turn-of-the-millennium renovation. The 11th floor spa has treatments for everyone (couples, teens, moms-to-be). For kneading those cares away? Try the combination deep tissue/aromatherapy The Carlton Club Signature Massage.


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
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THE SPA AT THE BROADMOOR:
The Broadmoor Hotel


The Rocky Mountain setting alone is enough to set this spa apart. But even without the dramatic backdrop, it still stands out. It recently reopened following a revamp by über architect TAG Galyean, and among its new features are massage and facial rooms adorned with Venetian chandeliers, and a pair of $100,000 SilverTag Serenity Showers, whose computers customize the 18 shower heads to your body shape and water pressure preference. Outstanding treatment: the Signature Harmonic Hot Stone Massage, which uses sound waves to clear out the noise in your head so you can simply relax and enjoy.

CORAL GABLES, FL
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THE SPA AT THE BILTMORE: The Biltmore Hotel


Hidden within the hotel's fitness center, The Spa at The Biltmore feels a little bit like a secret club. You ring a bell for entry, and are ushered into the sanctuary of all sanctuaries—a waiting area whose pillowed sofas and subtle golden lighting brings to mind the earthier, Moroccan works of Matisse. All the requisite treatments are offered, and then some. Those who believe the luxury should never end will appreciate the seven-hour Biltmore Ultimate Package, which includes a body polish, signature massage, facial, manicure, pedicure, make up and hair styling.

HOUSTON, TX
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TRELLIS, THE SPA AT THE HOUSTONIAN: The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa


Like everything else in the state of Texas, Trellis is super-sized. This 17,000-square-foot, U-shaped Houston spa surrounds a tranquil garden courtyard and features an indoor float pool the width of its first floor. Treatment rooms include VIP, couples and Vichy shower. Most popular, though, are the hydrotherapy rooms—water is the emphasized element here. Among the favorite hydrotherapy treatments are the Sea Satin Exfoliation and Sea Glow Exfoliating Massage. Upstairs is a lounge with a fireplace for between-treatment lazing.

KOHALA COAST, HI
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SPA WITHOUT WALLS: The Fairmont Orchid

Why go all the way to Hawaii just to lay inside a window-less treatment room? Opened in December 2003, the magnificent Spa Without Walls features 10 al fresco Waterfall Massage Hales, tucked away amid waterfalls, streams and lily ponds. Two of the hales are tiered out over the water, and you can gaze through windows in the floors to koi below. The five oceanfront treatment cabanas boast Pacific views. For a local experience, go for the Hawaii’s Big Island Vanilla Coffee Exfoliation treatment.

LAS VEGAS, NV
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THE SPA AT FOUR SEASONS:
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas


In a city that never sleeps, it can be hard to find a place to retreat. Because of its location, The Spa at Four Seasons has an intrinsic advantage. The hotel itself is set above the Las Vegas crowds (quite literally atop the Mandalay Bay resort), so just arriving here means you’ve already escaped. The spa is simply icing on the cake. In typical Four Seasons style, the little things make all the difference—take in the fragrance of the rose petals scattered on the floor as you settle in for a JAMU massage (an intoxicating blend of Hindu, Chinese and European techniques). Another favorite is the hot stone Zen Garden Massage.


LOS ANGELES, CA
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THE RITZ-CARLTON SPA:
The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington
Hotel & Spa


When it comes to luxe spa pampering, the residents of Los Angeles can be very demanding. They have choices aplenty, and they know how to weed out the best from the rest. At the top of our picks in this area: The Ritz-Carlton Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa in tony Pasadena. In this soothing setting in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, the spa offers treatments inspired by Carita—La Maison de Beaute, Paris. The Color Clay Envelopment uses yin and yang lotions to balance your body’s energy flow. And Nirvana, which blends the Shirodhara ayurvedic treatment and the Bindi cleansing treatment, will take you to … where else? … paradise.


MANCHESTER VILLAGE, VT
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AVANYU SPA:
The Equinox


At Avanyu Spa (the name is a Tewa Native American word for a mythical water serpent), it’s all about the sweetest thing. We’re talking sugar. To be precise: pure maple sugar. The perennially popular signature Maple Leaf Scrub uses a blend of pure vegetable oils and maple sugar, rich in natural anti-oxidants and essential minerals. Running a close second are treatments made from Red Clover, which is the state flower. And while the setting is rustic, as are the exposed beams sheltering the lap pool, this place is the last word in luxury.


NEW YORK, NY

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THE SPA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL, NEW YORK:
Mandarin Oriental New York

At the 35th floor The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York it’s the details that enchant. The couples suite features a Chinese bed to lounge on after treatments. An amethyst crystal sits in an almost altar-like setting in the iridescent Amethyst Steam Room. And the VIP Spa Suite has its own changing room, steam sauna and fireplace. As for the public spaces, they have their own charms: there’s an Oriental-style Tea House, stone Jacuzzi and lounge chairs for lazing, separated from one another by golden drapery. The lap pool offers a panoramic view of the Hudson River.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA
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THE NOB HILL SPA:
The Huntington

Guaranteed to keep your heart in San Francisco, the feng shui-designed The Nob Hill Spa is inspired by the eclectic moods of the city’s many neighborhoods. Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Victorian influences have been tastefully blended, while a thoroughly urban accent is the indoor infinity pool that boasts sweeping views of downtown through floor-to-ceiling windows. For fun, indulge in the Patio Pedicure, offered on the rooftop patio. As your tootsies are pampered, you’re invited to sit back, gaze out over the city and sip Perrier Jouët.



 
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