Photo courtesy of Mulia Spa
Dotted with ornate temples and surrounded by calming waters, Bali signified spiritual awakening long before Eat, Pray, Love made it a haven for sarong-clad women seeking enlightenment. But the Mulia Spa—a respite for guests of the suite-only The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas, in beach-strewn Nusa Dua—takes rejuvenation to new heights with the recent debut of its Lifestyle Wellness program.
The airy spa, which resembles a majestic shrine from the outside, greets guests with uplifting artwork and a red-ginger elixir—a soothing preface to the program’s delightfully intense four or six hours of body treatments, which embrace natural and organic ingredients like turmeric, chile and tree bark.
Those who choose the Spa Buffet, the most extravagant of the customized options, might first be rubbed down with an almond scrub and painted with a sea-salt-and-marine-mud wrap. Penetrating oil is blissfully poured onto the scalp for an Ayurvedic shirodhara session, and an upper-back massage summons sleep. You’ll want to resist a nap, though.
A well-balanced lunch (300 calories or less), such as a bright Asian chicken salad followed by a scoop of heavenly house-made mango sorbet, is part of the ritual (as are breakfast and dinner). Sated, it’s back to the treatment room, this time for a deep, ultra-relaxing Balinese oil massage. The finale? An extraction-free white-crystal lymphatic facial.
It might appear that things couldn’t get headier, but the day is rounded out with two fitness classes, say sunrise yoga overlooking the garden (the early rise is worth the cooler temperatures) and aqua aerobics. Sustain the invigoration with ample time in the wellness suite, tricked out with an aroma steam room offering a selection of soothing and calming smells, a eucalyptus-scented sauna and a “Chromatherapy Chakra” ice room, where LED lights offer a warm contrast to the bracingly restorative 30-degree chill. Half-day (four-hour) packages start at $465; full-day (six-hour) packages start at $625; 62-361/302-7777; themulia.com.
Courtesy of The Langham, Chicago
Chuan Spa, perched on the fourth floor of the new Langham Chicago hotel, is all about the symbolic sojourn to serenity. Granted, most spas are. But what sets this one apart is decor and treatments based on an East-meets-West concept imported from Hong Kong: Chicago is the first and only city in the United States to introduce a spa built entirely on the ancient philosophies of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The menu proffers massages, facials and an array of well-known TCM treatments (cupping, moxibustion [the application of heat to acupoints], acupuncture) to restore balance and increase overall energy, or qi.
My recent visit began with a thorough questionnaire to help guage which of the five Chinese “elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) defined me. Did I sweat at night? Did I prefer salty foods to sweet? Did I tend to laugh or groan? From there, treatments were fine-tuned to my individual body chemistry and imbalances.
Moving from light spaces to dark ones and through a series of dramatic archways (“moon gates”) to reach the spa’s interior conveyed a departure from one world to another. Services kicked off in the locker room with a stunning bathing ritual. An herbal sauna filled with fresh mint, sage, rosemary and thyme (delivered fresh from the kitchen daily) loosened my tight muscles and opened my respiratory system. A massive block of pink Himalayan sea salt in the salt stone sauna releases negative ions in the intense heat, calming the lymphatic system. The hot and cold aromatherapy showers were invigorating, and the chamomile-scented Oriental steam room eased away any remaining tension.
The massage (deep and efficient) used oil that jived with my body type, and the signature Chuan Yu facial, based on traditional gua sha therapy, focused on lymphatic drainage instead of wrinkle reduction (no aggressive exfoliation, no extractions). A piece of jade was gently scraped over my face and the meridian points along my body (including the feet) to increase circulation. A a nutrient-rich mask finished things off.
Spa day culminated in the Dream Room, where I munched dried fruit from within a Matrix-y looking device called the Four Senses Lounger. Exclusive to Chicago’s Chuan Spa, the lit-from-within chair offers interactive elements that engage the four senses and increase a meditative state. As if I could have been any more relaxed. 330 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-923-7650; chicago.langhamhotels.com.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s world-class Oriental Spa is already popular among guests and locals alike, but the hotel’s new, facials-focused Beauty by Mandarin Oriental (opened September 18) takes the property's program to new heights.
The Garden Wing—a colonial-era-inspired section of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, which is linked to the hotel’s original building and was previously used as accommodations—now houses four beautifully appointed treatment suites. Here, aestheticians perform exclusive, high-technology facials featuring products from !QMS Medicosmetics, an innovative skincare brand by cosmetic surgeon Erich Schulte.
“In this new space we can offer guests high-performance treatments that are separate from the offerings in the spa, so they can enjoy more options in line with their lifestyle aspirations and personal goals,” says Amanda Hyndman, general manager of the hotel. “Results-driven treatments from !QMS in Beauty by Mandarin Oriental and The Spa will remain fully committed to holistic well-being.”
The service menu features no less than nine facials, from a 45-minute deep-cleansing blitz to a 90-minute, ultra-targeted, antiaging skin-renewal ritual called the Pure Oxygen Treatment, which harnesses a concentrate of oxygen to amplify the smoothing and toning qualities of the products used. Beyond facials, body treatments (like the skin-firming Body Definer), manicures and pedicures are available, as well as a full retail section of beauty items that will support at-home maintenance. 48 Oriental Ave.; 66-2/659-9000; mandarinoriental.com.
Courtesy of Amanresorts
Nestled atop a hill on Greece’s Peloponnesian peninsula, in the town of Porto Heli, Amanzo’e is a sanctuary with sea views, with 38 freestanding villas, each with its own pool, built in the round for maximum ocean exposure. This month the haven opens its new Aman Spa in grand style with a customized movement and alignment retreat beginning April 27.
During stays of either four or seven nights, guests will be pushed, pulled and pampered into a state of maximum well-being. “We draw upon the influence of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, by working on a holistic level incorporating movement, treatments, water therapies and nutrition,” says spa director Stavros Mavridis.
To that end, renowned experts in Pilates, cranial osteopathy and watsu (supported aquatic therapy) will be in residence to guide the journey. Itineraries are crafted around individual needs, but each includes six private sessions of movement and alignment work and a menu of local produce, yogurt, honey, fresh fish and lamb designed to complement the program. Early morning yoga, hikes about the local olive groves, lazy evenings in the hammam and reviving dips in the Aegean Sea complete the experience.
Not to be missed are the spa’s 150-minute Signature treatments, which meld ancient local tradition with state-of-the-art technique to stimulate the lymphatic system, infuse the skin with minerals and diffuse stress. “Let go of all tension and… be with the present moment,” advises Mavridis. In Amanzo’e’s setting, that part should be easy. Retreat starts at $5,941; rooms start at $1,438; Agios Panteleimonas, Kranidi, Argolida; 30-275/477-2888; amanresorts.com/amanzoe.
Photo courtesy of Trump SoHo New York
The Empire State has made some serious headway in the hammam world as of late—see our piece on the Glenmere Mansion from the January/February issue. But it’s not just countryside estates that excel at the traditional Turkish and Moroccan spa treatment. Trump SoHo New York has featured authentic luxury hammam treatments—beloved by uptowners and downtowners alike—since it opened in 2010. The spa’s versions involve lying on a heated Calacatta-marble platform as an attendant softens skin with hot and cool water, a bubble treatment and an application of rhassoul clay before a thorough full-body exfoliation with handmade kessa mitts.
Ivanka Trump fell in love with hammam while on business in Istanbul and couldn’t wait to incorporate the treatment into her own spa. “The entire room floods as the hammam attaché washes your body with black soap made of crushed olives and olive oil,” she explains. “It’s exotic and blissful.” 45-minute Turkish hammam treatment, $100; 75-minute Moroccan hammam treatment, $160; 246 Spring St.; 212-842-5500; trumphotelcollection.com.
Courtesy AIRE Ancient Baths, NYC
A touch of the Old World arrived in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood last Monday as luxury spa company Aire opened its first Ancient Bath outside its native Spain. The company, which has spas in Seville, Barcelona and Almeria, draws inspiration for its elaborate complexes from the historic Greek, Roman and Ottoman traditions of communal bathing used as a method for relaxation and purification. The new TriBeCa location is expansive, more than 16,000 square feet of illuminated pools, exposed brick and lounge areas lit by lanterns. Guests move through the pools in sequence—from icy to cool, warm to hot, and then onto the saltwater pool, the propeller-jet bath and the steam room. Those not content to bathe in water can opt for one of Aire’s ritual treatments, where guests bathe in more luxurious elixirs, like sparkling wine or olive oil, while receiving four-hand massages. With any luck, this new outpost is only the beginning of a wider campaign to revive the tradition of ancient baths. “We wanted to expand the culture of the bath experience to the world,” says founder Armando Prados. “New York is an amazing, vibrant city to begin that.” From $75; 88 Franklin St.; 212-224-3777; ancientbathsny.com.
Courtesy Rosewood Hotels and Resorts
Las Ventanas al Paraiso—a Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas—unveiled its newly expanded spa this month, taking its already decadent environment of luxury oceanfront casitas to new heights. New facilities at the spa—which has doubled in size—include a spacious lobby area and solarium, a full-service salon using Oribe and Davines hair products and eight treatment cabanas with private terraces, including two specially suited for couples.
The spa has also expanded its treatment offerings. The new Flor de Luna treatment uses a custom-blended dragon-fruit scrub, while the Holistic Twilight Ceremony employs an authentic shaman to administer ritual blessings and balance energy. But the resort’s traditional Four Elements services, inspired by earth, air, fire and water, are also a treat. Many of the spa’s therapists have been with the property for years and are skilled at the arts of healing touch and relaxation. After treatments, as guests relax in sun-dappled-solarium lounge chairs, sipping cucumber water and nibbling skewers of artfully sliced fruit, it’s clear the only pressing issue on their minds is planning their next trip here. rosewoodhotels.com/en/lasventanas
Courtesy The Greenwich Hotel, New York City
Since 2008, residents of New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood have had one of the city’s top spas right in their midst—but have never had access to it themselves. As of this week, though, Shibui Spa, set in a spectacular subterranean space below the Greenwich Hotel, is taking reservations for those who aren’t hotel guests. Now, for the first time, those wanting to experience the spa’s singular atmosphere (which centers around a lantern-lit, 40-foot swimming pool over which a 250-year-old wooden Japanese farmhouse roof is suspended) don’t have to book a room. Among the signature treatments new customers can take advantage of are the Drunken Lotus massage, which uses hot, sake-soaked towels to relax and detoxify stressed muscles (from $200 for 60 minutes); and the Bamboo Glow body treatment, which offers a vigorous bamboo–and–ginger grass scrub, followed by an hour-long massage ($350 for 120 minutes).
Photo courtesy of La Prairie
Launching this month at La Prairie spas in the Ritz-Carlton New York and Grand Cayman, and the Beverly Hills Hotel, is a 60-minute facial ($270) using the new Cellular Power Charge Night serum ($475). After a sleep-inducing treatment, we awoke the next day with firmer, brighter skin. laprairie.com.
This may be the first week of spring, but with a chilly mix of snow and rain enveloping the streets of Manhattan, it’s apparent that winter isn’t ready to go away just yet. This final cold stretch can feel like the longest of all, which is why there’s never been a better time for a nice, relaxing day at the spa. One of our favorite city options is the Spa-cation at The Peninsula New York, which, for $250, is also one of the best deals in town. In addition to a 60-minute treatment of choice—holistic massage, intensive facial or organic sunless tanning—guests have all-day access to the fitness center and classes, as well as use of the indoor pool, with panoramic views of Fifth Avenue from its perch on the 22nd floor. There’s also a delicious bento-box lunch, with choices like grilled beef sirloin with bok choy and poached salmon with roasted red pepper and Thai spices. We recommend getting there early to take advantage of the daily fitness classes—yoga, pilates, cardioblast—then following that with a relaxing treatment and finishing off with a poolside lunch. Who cares about the cold when you can have so much fun indoors? At 700 Fifth Ave.; 212-956-2888; peninsula.com.