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

Spa News 2005

November 2005

Saving Face at Savana

You’ve seen the movie, now get yourself to the spa in Notting Hill, one of London’s trendiest areas. The new Savana urban spa is guided by natural as well as holistic principles. This means a roster of alternative health and ancient traditional treatments and the absence of invasive techniques. In other words: no botox, acrylic nails, tanning beds or abrasion machines. Instead, guests will discover a large selection of therapies like acupuncture, massages that include Chinese, Thai, La Stone and Hawaiian, Qi gong, yoga classes, wraps and facials employing natural skincare products (Hungarian wellness mud, ginger, honey, cocoa and African shea butter). We were particularly impressed with the “Complementary Health” menu that ranges from Alexander and Bowen technique to hypnotherapy, Bach flowers, life coaching, cranial sacral therapy, Reiki and osteopathy. These take place in four airy, stylish quarters that use lots of natural light and stark white design elements. Last but not least, it’s a rule of the industry that every new spa must a have a quirky, individualistic feature. Savana’s is the Facial Bar. Basically, this means getting your friends together for do-it-yourself facials—with some help from the experts.

Teleion Holon: A Holistic Retreat

Even the most pampered world travelers don’t always need a luxury suite when it comes to taking care of their health holistically. The new Teleion Holon retreat in Vermont offers comforts of a different breed: homegrown, communal organic vegetarian meals; classes in tai chi, yoga and cooking in the teaching kitchen; creativity and self-exploration workshops; a self-sufficient farmstead with chickens and cows and a holistic approach to well-being. Guests can stay for one to six-day retreats in a recently refurbished Tudor manor dating from 1905, formerly known as "The Old English Inn." Ten guestrooms each have a private bath and some boast a Jacuzzi. Greek for "perfect universe," Teleion Holon has rustic charm, fitting its peaceful environment of wilderness trails, meadows, gardens, streams and pine trees.

Remedies at Remède

The swanky new St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco features the rooftop 9,000-square-foot Remède Spa, which offers ten treatment rooms, customized treatments based on the Labortoire Remède skincare line and Champagne and truffles on arrival. Next door to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the hotel comprises the historic, early 20th-century Williams building and a new forty-story tower, which was inspired by Rodin's sculpture, "Balzac;" the angled top floors replicate the statue's cloak.

Grand Concept for Grand Cayman

The new The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, which is supposed to open on December 15, 2005 after a delay due to Hurricane Ivan, isn’t short on superlatives. The $400 million project is the group’s most extensive mixed-use development, featuring a 365-room resort and 69 oceanfront homes, named The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. It will also house one of the largest full-service spas in the Caribbean, and the latter will be the first and only resort in the Caribbean to offer the exclusive Swiss-based La Prairie spa concept. The 20,000-square-foot spa, on what the group says is the Caribbean’s “safest and most affluent island,” will feature seventeen treatment rooms and the full range of La Prairie products including the Skin Caviar Collection. In addition to the spa, highlights at the resort include two restaurants from Eric Ripert, chef/co-owner of famed Le Bernardin in New York City, a 6,000-square-foot luxury retail emporium, a Greg Norman-designed nine hole golf course and a Jean-Michel Cousteau children’s program.

October 2005

From Russia with Banya

Caviar continues to be a hot item on spa menus around the world. At the new Okeanos in New York, it is the essential ingredient in the signature wrap. To accompany your treatment, sip Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, the favorite Champagne of Tsar Nicolas II, or a spiced Russian coffee, if you so prefer. Why the Russian treats? Okeanos brings the Russian spa tradition to New York City, complete with banya (Russian steam sauna) and platza (steam-softened birch leaves treatment). Equally old-world is the spa’s conception as a community for both men and women. Owners Andre Izrailov and Simon Mirzokan say they love luxury, but that they value simplicity and authenticity. If you want to create a communal feeling, you’re invited to bring friends or colleagues along. The design of the space is masculine, with granite, rough-hewn stone tiles, rich woods, blue colors and nautical elements that make you feel like you’re entering a stylish steamship. It’s a bit like a classic gentleman’s club and, for men only, there’s a barber.

Bundles of Joy in Ubud

An herbal treatment that relieves cellulite? We’ve been around the spa block one too many times to believe that. However, we very much do believe that the new Hot Compress Herbal Treatment at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa, Bali, has detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties. After all, it’s an ancient Thai healing therapy that’s been used for centuries. Picture this: two pouches are stuffed with eleven local herbs such as ginger, turmeric, galangal, betel, pomelo, kunjit and cinnamon. Heated in a steamer, the compresses are then applied directly to the body. The warm bundles are also said to help relieve joint stiffness, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Rancho Living

Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., is already renowned for its picturesque Rancho Valencia Resort. If that wasn't reason enough to voyage there, the resort is opening a luxurious spa in the summer of 2006. Besides being adorned with hand-crafted European tiles and other unique architectural details, the 10,000-square-foot, $12-million retreat will feature a wide variety of therapeutic pools, treatment rooms with private patios and a Vichy room for special hydrotherapies. Yoga, pilates and other wellness workouts will be offered along with treatments such as Tangerine Sea Salt Body Polish and Orange Blossom Massage. To take some of The Spa home with you after your stay at the resort, a line of hair and body products utilizing avocado, grape seed, citrus extracts and other offerings from Mother Nature will be available for purchase.

September 2005

Gaya Retreat & Spa

Autumn 2005 is going to see a surprising number of luxe spa openings, but one intriguing fall newcomer has already debuted. With the autumnal equinox still upon us, how is such a thing possible? The answer: Fall comes in March in the land Down Under, which is where Gaia Retreat & Spa is located. No doubt this enchanting place is what co-founder Olivia Newton-John was foretelling all those years ago when she belted out, "Let's Get Physical." Along with Amala Day Spa, a pool, tennis court and yoga room, the retreat features accommodations whose design is inspired by the tropical mood of the Pacific Islands and a guests-only restaurant serving spa cuisine. Those staying here can socialize on the loungy sofas at the communal Kukura House, or seek privacy at Samira Lookout, an intimate canopied daybed with views ranging from Byron Bay to the Nightcap Ranges.

Unique Treatments in Antalya

Adventurous travelers won’t visit Turkey without setting aside some time for pampering at a local hamam. These very social baths have been popular in Turkey for thousands of years, but if you’re feeling a bit shy, you’ll be glad to know there’s a new full-fledged spa open at Sungate Port Royal, located in the quaint town of Beldibi in Antalya. Expect a large menu of services including the intriguing-sounding mystic massage, the "astrological facial," based on the individual’s zodiac sign, the Hualalai Oil Therapy, inspired by the Pacific islands, and the 20-minute beer-lover bath in a special, massive wood bathtub imported from China and filled with beer. For further information and to book, contact Great Hotels of the World by calling 0800 032 4254 or visiting

Committed to the Pink Cause

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to help the cause, The Spa’s “Pink Boutique” at Mandarin Oriental, Miami will be selling one-of-a-kind items throughout the month to support the fight against cancer. A portion of proceeds from exclusive “Pink Boutique” items, such as ESPA’s Pink Hair and Scalp Mud and ESPA’s Floral Spa fresh spritzer, will be donated to the American Cancer Society. More fun items that can be purchased include chic pink T-shirts, tank tops and flip flops, all encrusted with Swarovski crystals. To top things off, Miami jewelry designer Cynthia Lynn has created a stunning special limited-edition semi-precious stone pendant, which promotes serenity, healing, fortune and love. The delicately crafted heart pendant features pink quartz, amethyst, pearl, and peridot set in sterling silver. Getting pampered has never felt so rewarding!

March 2005

Ooh La La: Beau Spa

An 1861 landmark on the shores of Lake Geneva, The Beau-Rivage Palace is adding the ultimate 21st-century amenity in the autumn of 2005: a full-service spa. The new 15,000-square-foot facility will open in partnership with the Parisian day spa, Cinq Mondes. The Cinq Mondes philosophy blends traditional well-being techniques with Japanese, Ayurvedic, North African, Taoist and Balinese influenced beauty rituals and design elements. In addition, the company uses customized products free of silicon, mineral oil, artificial color and animal based ingredients. Among the spa’s nine treatment rooms will be a private spa suite for couples with a Japanese aroma/floral bath for two, a Turkish bath and two massage tables. Along with Japanese bath rituals, signature treatments will include a Taoist Massage, which incorporates hot oil and acupressure points. To complement the spa’s opening, the iconic hotel will also unveil a new outdoor swimming pool and poolside café in the gardens overlooking the lake.

From Bali to Benu

More and more new spas are setting trends by making spas more approachable and democratic. Cary Collier and Doug Chambers are the minds behind the new Benu Spa & Salon in Dallas and Blue Spas, Inc., and their approach came out of traveling the world and experiencing, for instance, spas in Asia, were women and men alike lined up for soothing foot baths after work. From Hong Kong they brought the concept of the spa as a social phenomenon, were people meet friends and even business partners, and this led to the creation of Benu’s communal “waterhouse.” From Bali they imported the idea of the village healer and meaningful daily rituals and crafted their two-hour signature ritual, Benu 5. Benu Spa & Salon, which opened earlier this year, is situated by a hip apartment complex, boutiques and Mockingbird Station. But even though the setting is right in the heart of town, the environs are serene with curved walls in muted earth tones, clean lines incorporating granite and millwork and vibrantly colored Balinese accents. Another twist is the menu: It’s gender neutral. Benu offers a full menu of services including a Feng Shui-focused hair salon.

First Blush

Blush is an eclectic new day spa in Sonoma. Owner Dolores De Alba, an internationally trained esthetician who has worked with celebrities Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Jennifer Jason Leigh, offers oxygen facials, massages, sweet treat pedicures and even color therapy. Her mission is to create a nurturing environment, combining European-based theories for long-lasting beauty and Eastern philosophies for balancing mind and spirit. Dana Cilmi, the spa's intuitive counselor and level III Aura-soma® practitioner, uses the Aura-soma® color therapy system including color energy, chakra balancing and numerology to help you heal and find balance. A large selection of products includes candles, unique jewelry, paintings and gift items from local artists. Call 707-935-0116, or visit

Four Seasons

With its discreet soft opening at the end of January, the full-service spa at The Island Hotel Newport Beach
(formerly the Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach) brings the company’s signature, soothing luxury to a 4,000-square-foot on-site spa space. Slated for mid-March, the official grand opening will showcase the spa’s water theme---fountains, a water wall and iridescent glass complemented by tranquil earth tones. Among the spa’s signature treatments are the Honey Hibiscus Hydrating Facial (which also uses the trehalose desert plant for hydration), the O.C. Facial Drench (using a customized blend of antioxidants and Vitamin C to bright the complexion) and Newport Beach Nourisher (an anti-aging treatment using botanical extracts). The spa will also offer classic treatments, such as Swedish massage, hot stone therapy, reflexology, manicures and pedicures.

February 2005

For Guys Only

We’ve known guys that have secretly been getting facials for years, and massages have long been a favorite way to blow off some steam for businessmen, but full-blown spa visits? As more and more men are outing themselves as aficionados, beauty oases are catering to their specific needs. La Trémoille Institute at Hôtel La Trémoille in Paris offers men an express one-hour deep cleansing, toning and conditioning treatment that is designed as “a perfect way to relax and recharge your batteries before an important lunch or business meeting.” The hour features a cleansing treatment, a skin-toning gel treatment, a brighter complexion at the end and, overall, an hour of relaxation and well-being. The cost is 90 Euros. Add a manicure for a total of 145 Euros. For an appointment call Muriel Mc-Liffe at 33 (0)1 56 52 14 84, La Trémoille Institute, 14, rue de la Trémoille, 75008 Paris.

January 2005

Sleek Asian Inspired Setai

With last month’s arrival of Adrian Zecha’s sleek The Setai hotel, the already fashionable Miami Beach spa scene gained a distinctly stylish addition. The spa’s philosophy is inspired by an ancient Sanskrit legend about gods that embark on a quest for a natural elixir for immortality and youth. Design-wise, it mirrors the hotel, whose interiors make use of natural textures, muted earth tones and soothing lighting. The spa is right on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and it features spa suites with their own showers. Emphasizing Oriental traditions, treatments are designed to be mind/body/spirit experiences and fall under eight headings, including Seducing the Senses, Rejuvenating Body Elixirs and Purifying Cocooning Wraps. Within the categories, signature treatments include Marma Massage, Himalaya Hot Stone Massage and Malaysian Rainforest Relaxing Bath. In addition to treatments there are Body and Mind Sessions, which range from sunrise or sunset meditation to yoga on the beach.



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