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.
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
When you think of a relaxing spa day, mountains, rivers and view of gorgeous landscapes pop in your head; a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of any city’s booming music and honking taxis. SoJo Spa Club and Hotel gives you the relaxing feeling of being away while still staying close to the busy center of Manhattan.
Dance the night away with Grand Hotel’s Ballroom Dance offer, available May 16–18. Dancers of all skill levels will experience a diverse range of ballroom dance styles, alongside daily breakfast and dinner, a welcome reception and complimentary golf green fees.
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.