I´m closetothecheck-incounters on the concourse of Terminal 4 at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport, wearing nothing but a pair of paper undies. It could be a bizarre dream, but this is real. I can hear the bustle of passengers and luggage carts all around me. I can’t see them, and, more importantly, they can’t see me. I am safely cloistered in one of the treatment cabins of the Elysium Spa.
In addition to my clothes, I have cast off the usual worries of an impending journey. My flight is due to board in 90 minutes — plenty of time for an hour-long massage. Maria, the masseuse, heralds her return with a discreet knock on the door. I lie down on my back on the treatment bed, with a towel draped across my skimpily attired nether regions.
Maria surveys me, then shakes her head and taps my watch. “Nada,” she says. Nothing. I remove my watch. There goes the last vestige of the harassed traveler. I shut my eyes and the airport drifts away.
There are two Elysium Spas in Terminal 4: this one, and another airside, in the satellite terminal. The airside spa, which is located within a few steps of the transatlantic departure gates, offers a luxurious plunge pool as well as treatment rooms and a personalized jetlag program.
“For that,” said Gabriel Saez Irigoyen, CEO of Elysium’s parent company, Ingesport, which runs the spas in association with NH Hotels, “we compile individual data about the client — where they’re going, when they’re going, and for how long. Then we design a comprehensive anti-jetlag plan for them, including a timetablefor sleeping and eating. Sometimes we even take them to the plane wearing a mask — we practically carry them on board asleep.”
Irigoyen told me this during a visit to the NH Eurobuilding Hotel in Madrid’s business district. The hotel hosts one of the company’s five spas. In addition to the two at the airport, there are others in the resort of Marbella and at the up-market golf complex of Sotogrande, near Gibraltar. The Eurobuilding spa is nearing the end of an expensive renovation that will add three new treatment rooms and a new reception area to the already outstanding facilities.
“Making the changes hasn’t been easy,” Irigoyen explained as we toured the spa. “This hotel is 30 years old and is full of concrete pillars that are essential for the structure.”
A nifty design solution: Within the spa, the pillars have been given sensual curves and are decorated with colored tiles. It’s an instantly soothing environment, seemingly far removed from the surrounding hustle of Spain’s dynamic capital city.
The hotel is situated a block from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, home of the legendary soccer club, Real Madrid. For the galacticos — the team’s handful of superstar players including, until recently, David Beckham — the Elysium Spa offers a convenient retreat. This really is an exclusive venue. Besides the hotel guests, the spa has only 1,000 members, mainly drawn from Madrid’s sporting, business and social elite.
The facilities are state-of-the-art. The gym features the most advanced fitness machines in the world, each of which can be programmed with data specific to the individual user. The running machines come complete with TVs and air-conditioning. Each day, hotel guests can opt to participate in a regular schedule of fitness classes.
On the deck adjacent to the magnificent pool (which looks truly spectacular after dark with its subdued lighting) is a rooftop area that Irigoyen referred to as “the only beach in Madrid.” Here, in plain view of the city high-rises, you can sprawl out on a patch of soft sand, don your iPod, close your eyes and imagine Mediterranean waves lapping at your feet. Close by, for the more energetic, are several paddle tennis courts.
The Elysium Spa is just one of the innovations that have been adopted by the NH Hotels Group. Several hotels in the chain have opened chillout rooms under the brand name “Nhube,” a play on the word nube, Spanish for “cloud,” where guests enjoy drinks and snacks, surf the Internet and relax in a comfortable environment.
Back in the airport, I really don’t know where I am. Thirty minutes into my massage, with soothing music playing softly in the room to mask the sounds of the concourse, I am so relaxed I’m almost unconscious.
“Turn please,” says Maria. Drowsily disoriented, I comply. Thankfully, the paper undies survive the maneuver intact and I retain my modesty. Beginning at my feet, Maria irons out any remaining tension in my legs, back and shoulders.
This is a business traveler’s dream come true.
“We believe that when passengers find out about the spa treatments we are offering, they will go out of their way to travel via Madrid,” I remember Irigoyen saying during our meeting at the Eurobuilding Hotel. “Soon we will offer online booking at our Web site (www.elysium.es), so you will be able to arrange your spa appointment before you leave home.”
By the time Maria sets to work onmy temples, I am practically comatose. Every ounce of stress has left me.
“Okay,” she says finally, but all too soon. “Is finish.”
Left to my own devices, I abandon the paper undies, take a quick shower, and dress in my traveling clothes. I return to the airport concourse in a dreamlike state. This terminal is among the world’s longest. To reach my gate I must walk half its length. I progress serenely, calmly, divorced from my surroundings.
I am happily oblivious to the funny looks I attract due to the scent of massage oil wafting in my wake.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Southwest Airlines is adding new flights to, from and within Hawai’i, beginning mid-January 2020. The airline will add a new daily service between Sacramento International Airport and Honolulu (HON), plus new non-stop flights between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) and both Kauai (LIH) and the Island of Hawai’i (KOA).
The Luxury Collection welcomes its eighth property in China with the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. The property is situated in the capital of the Guangxi Province, in a high-rise landmark building in the business district.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.