If, by the time I leave a spa, I feel boneless — so relaxed and mellow that I have to concentrate to stand up, let alone walk — I count it as time well spent. If I can manage to feel virtuous at the same time, that’s the icing on the cake. In that light, my visit to the Aria Spa in Vail was a resounding success.
Aria Spa & Club is a free-standing appendix to the Vail Cascade Resort where I was a guest, so I didn’t even have to don a coat to traverse the glass-enclosed skywalk that connects the buildings. I entered the fitness center lobby where I met my Pilates trainer. I’d never before taken an actual Pilates class, so having a personal trainer guide me through a routine one-on-one was the perfect introduction — and I felt all nice and “stretchy” by the time I was done. The workout, though, was just the appetizer — the upfront dues payment that allowed me to guiltlessly enjoy the shameless pampering next on the agenda.
Not all of the athletic bodies playing basketball or spinning or working out with weights in the hotel fitness center gain access to the spa: The elevator is unlocked only for those of us booked to join the pampered elite (or at least, they make you feel that way).
I checked in at the spa desk — subtly lit and decorated with glistening rows of products — and was shown into a room with lockers (to call it a “locker room” would give entirely the wrong impression). I wrapped myself in a cozy, sage-colored, terrylined robe and moved into the large relaxation room. If heaven is in the mountains, then this is what its waiting room looks like — a large central fireplace with multiple openings warm sitting clusters furnished with overstuffed chairs and hassocks, or chaises, all done in calming tones of sage and taupe, green and brown.
Already starting to unwind, I watched the fire flicker and sipped herbal tea until my therapist, Tillie, called my name in a dulcet tone. My first treatment was the “hydrate and heal” Neem Body Wrap. Tillie covered me with a coating of mineralrich mud, then wrapped me snugly in sheets of plastic and rubber. I was momentarily surprised when the tabletop on which I lay descended a few inches — taking me along with it — to partially submerge my wrapped body in warm water. I was left to relax — and sweat a bit — for 20 minutes.
Tillie returned to help me out of the “tub,” then made a discreet exit so I could step into the private shower to rinse away traces of treatment mud. The shower had multiple jets that I could aim at my body without getting my hair wet — which would indeed have stayed dry had I not been carried away playing with the various knobs and nozzles. My skin felt so soft, I didn’t care. (I needed the hydration, too; high-altitude air is quite dehydrating, especially for those of us who normally live at sea level.)
Almost all of Aria’s spa treatments are available individually or in themed packages; my package segued directly into a Swedish massage. I toweled off, donned my robe and ducked quickly across the hall to the massage room where I dropped my robe and slipped onto the table under the decorous covering of strategically placed towels.
I selected from an assortment of exotically named massage oils and lotions, almost all of which sounded good enough to eat. Aiming to maintain my languid state of relaxation, I opted against stimulating rubs that included caffeine or smelled of “wake-up” orange in favor of something minimally herbal (florals can make me itchy) that, I believe, was enriched with Omega-3. Lately, I’ve been into Asian and New-Agey massages, so it was a treat to savor a classic massage for a change. Tillie skillfully worked knots out of my muscles without beating me up, which I appreciated.
After almost an hour, my massage was done. With a Mona Lisa smile of post-massage bl iss, I eased back into my comfy robe and retired to the relaxation room, where I put my feet up and let the fire lull me into a state of oblivion. It suddenly seemed very unfair that I was scheduled to dress for business and meet a colleague for lunch. I mentioned my distress to a spa attendant who came by to offer a beverage. She suggested I move my meeting to the spa.
Hmmm … food for thought. I was meeting with a representative of the resort, so logistically it could work. But I did have my heart set on one of the lunch salads I’d seen on the menu at Chaps, Vail Cascade’s wellregarded restaurant. No problem. The attendant informed me that the food served in the spa comes from the resort’s room service which, in turn, is serviced by Chaps. Sold!
So, still in my robe — I must emphasize it was an elegant robe — I called my lunch date, who happily agreed to the change of venue. We enjoyed chicken Caesar salads highlighted by polenta croutons and white anchovies while dining at a table in a nook near the relaxation room entrance.
Eventually my meeting concluded, my associate departed, and I returned to the changing room to shower off the massage oil, wash and dry my hair, and re-enter the land of everyday. That evening I did sense a tiny bit of complaint from a few muscles that, before Pilates, may never have seen use — but the rest of my newly hydrated and nourished and pampered body told them to hush so as not to spoil the buzz.
Global business travel is making its way back, even as the pandemic and other world events continue to challenge its return. In a recent poll from the Global Business Travel Association, more than four in five respondents (86 percent) from across the industry said they feel more optimistic than they did at the beginning of the year. Business travel bookings, the need to travel to do business and employee willingness to travel are all on the rise.
Tucked away between the verdant hills of the Dominican Republic and beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, Samaná is the perfect year-round destination. No matter what time of year you choose to visit this hidden gem, you can check things off your travel bucket list. In the summer, escape the busy tourism hot spots and explore off-the-beaten path areas and activities; in the winter, embark on an eco-excursion like whale watching in Samaná Bay.
The coastal town of Belek in Antalya serves as the setting for the brand new, 5-star Cullinan Belek, named for the largest rough diamond ever discovered. Set along the sparkling azure waters of the Turkish Riviera, the new property boasts its own private white-sand beach, with 600 plush guestrooms (including 10 luxurious villas), all providing sea views. The hotel also has 13 swimming pools, 10 dining venues and five bars.
There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*
Museums beckon wherever we go. They amuse and enlighten travelers and bring to public attention historical, artistic, scientific and natural wonders. Most are thought-provoking and educational, stretching our minds and our knowledge of the world. Some, however, stand out as just plain quirky: personal and sometimes whimsical collections, museums dedicated to a unique skill or long- forgotten industry, arcane collections originally designed for scientific study. Others devote their space to sharing a subject that represents one person’s consuming passion.
Just north of the bustling city of Jacksonville on Florida’s East Coast, historic Amelia Island is a slower, dreamier destination — especially for food lovers. Fresh catch is always a great place to begin, but the island also offers a wide selection of specialty food shops, brewpubs and great restaurants well worth exploring.
Start planning that long-awaited trip to the island of Ireland. With all travel restrictions now lifted, there has never been a better time to visit.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection celebrated an exciting moment recently when Evrima, its inaugural yacht, completed a series of successful sea trials. On June 9, in Santander, Spain, Evrima reached what is considered one of the final shipbuilding milestones prior to launch with the sea trials, a series of tests carried out when the yacht is sailing on open waters. Captain Steven MacBeath led the trials, alongside a team of senior officers, engineers, contractors and shipyard staff.