FOR THOSE OF US PASSIONATE about wellness pursuits and who feel most at peace close to the sea, there’s nothing quite like the synergy offered by a floating spa integrated into the setting of a luxurious cruise ship. I’m sailing through the Mediterranean from Rome to Barcelona, discovering along the way that the Crystal Life Spa & Beauty Salon on board the Crystal Serenity provides not only the element of high-end indulgence but also the cruise line’s signature commitment to attention and service.
One of the defining structural characteristics of a crystal is its symmetry — a kind of harmony of composition that lies beneath the surface, providing a foundational framework for its beauty. Crystal Serenity’s spa carries that concept even further with respect to space. The spa itself was designed to incorporate the guiding principles of Chinese feng shui, with the careful placement of furniture and objects helping to establish an optimal flow of positive energy that greets and surrounds each guest who enters.
I’ve left my husband to oversee the chilling of a bottle of Prosecco while I make my way to the Sun Deck, the location of the spa. At the reception desk, Spa & Salon manager Sarah Armstrong tells me most of the treatment rooms have water views, designed to enhance the sense of place.
Beyond the windows of the relaxation area, a wide deck filled with a sort of beach comprising softly rounded stones enhances the connection to nature. The choice of artwork and sculpture on display makes the spa space even more peaceful: a water feature by English artist Allison Armour-Wilson, a lovely reproduction of an Asian chest, and a series of gold wood panels by John Newman of South Africa.
Armstrong seats me in the lounge with a fruited herbal tisane to sip while I peruse the menu of available treatment choices. I’m pleased to see Chinese herbal medicine consultations and acupuncture on offer, as I have regular treatments at home to deal with a difficult knee. But I’m on the Mediterranean, and the only sensible choice is an ELEMIS Aroma Spa Seaweed Wrap with Massage.
The detoxifying treatment begins with a heated seaweed mask applied from my neck down. Though I’d secretly worried there might be a fishy scent to deal with, I needn’t have wasted my energy. The ELEMIS scent is delicate and pleasant, and the wrap that follows the application of the seaweed and essential oil blend is warm and com- forting. I drift in and out of half-dreams until it’s time to rinse off and surrender to a full-body massage.
Inspired by the artwork in the spa — and with some time on my hands before pre-dinner drinks — I embark on a meditative solo walkabout to explore the ship’s art collection, concentrating on the displays arranged at stairwell landings and in the public spaces near the restaurants, cafés and bars on lower decks. The collection is enormous, and by the time I’ve arrived back in my penthouse suite to join my husband on our veranda for a glass of perfectly chilled Prosecco, my head is dangerously filled with home redecorating ideas.
The following day, I arrive early at the spa for a workout in the Techno Gym then enjoy a relaxing session in the steam and sauna baths and beneath the shower area’s mist and rain features. Access to both the fitness area and heat cabins is complimentary to all guests, with separate steam and sauna facilities for men and women, with swimsuits optional. The spa area also encompasses a full-service salon and barbershop, with four stylists ready to trim, style, shave and blow-dry. Teeth whitening is even offered, while the extensive options at the Medi-Spa include DYSPORT wrinkle treatments; Restylane dermal filler treatments; and non-invasive Thermage skin-tightening treatments for face, neck and tummy.
I’ve booked a Freestyle Deep Tissue Massage. After making my aromatic oil selection from choices that include muscle pain relief, relaxation, emotional balance and stress relief, my therapist does a light dry brushing, explain- ing this will prepare my skin for the most advantageous absorption of the oil’s healing botanical components. For the better part of an hour, I’m bliss- fully adrift as she kneads, stretches and works the tight muscles of my shoulders and hamstrings. By the end of the treatment, I feel delightfully loose and slightly floppy, and I lie with my eyes closed until I hear the music of tinkling chimes sounding the end of the massage.
I sense the therapist stepping away, and though I can’t detect the sound of the door closing, I’m suddenly aware I’m alone. The vibration from the chimes lingers, briefly, in my muscles and tissues. I stretch beneath the blanket: first one arm, then the other, and come gently to a sitting position. The room is warm and sweetly scented. I sense the subtle movement of the ship as it glides through the Mediterranean toward Cannes and our next port of call, everything, including me, perfectly in balance.
The UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood of Balat rivals İstanbul’s Old City for its historic significance, with an added splash of color. Its cobbled hilly streets boast a full rainbow of houses, cafés, restaurants and churches painted in pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, greens and blues — parts even surpassing my native San Francisco’s steep, colorful corridors. The most vibrant stretch of homes, dating anywhere from 50 to 200 years old, runs along Kiremit Caddesi.
Experience the beauty of Alaska and save 60 percent off cruise fares on your second and fourth guests. Plus, drinks, WiFi and tips are all included.
Icelandair recently announced its newest North American gateway: Detroit, Michigan. The seasonal flights begin May 18, 2023, taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Reykjavik (KEF), Iceland. The four weekly, non-stop flights will run through Oct. 30, 2023. Flight 872 departs Detroit for Iceland Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, at 8:30 p.m., on a 160-seat Boeing 737MAX. The return, from Reykjavik to Detroit, departs 5 p.m. on the same days of the week, arriving at 6:25 p.m.
If your personal travel nirvana involves fabulous scenery and a snappy, reviving hike in bracing winter air, Bannikin Travel & Tourism hopes to make your dreams come true with a selection of new winter walking itineraries in Scotland (other trip options are available in England and Ireland). Here’s what you can look forward to in 2023:
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
As of November 2022, Rohrkopfhutte (mountain hut) on Germany’s Tegelberg mountain reopened, and the dream view from the terrace, of the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau and the stunning Schwangauer Alpsee, can be seen in the valley below.
Travelers constantly look for their next bucket-list vacation, but with Europe getting colder, why not travel to a destination that is sunny year-round? Tel Aviv is the perfect getaway to escape the cold winter months. Whether traveling solo, with friends or family members, here are some must-do activities in Tel Aviv.
When American travelers make plans to visit Portugal, Lisbon is usually their first stop.
Palm Springs became a destination of legend when Hollywood’s biggest and brightest during cinema’s “Golden Age” turned the desert community into their glamourous backyard. While restaurants and hotels epitomizing definitive Palm Springs luxury open, adapt and change with the times, it says something that one of its hottest restaurants sets up an outpost back in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what chef Michael Beckman and restaurateur Joe Mourani did on the southern tip of the always-evolving Fairfax District.