The Greek god Dionysus dances across my line of vision, his stained-glass feet partially obscured by mounds of grapes. I’m not wearing my contact lenses, so the effect is a bit dreamy and nicely blurred around the edges. In a horizontal state of what can only be described as spectacular contentment, it’s not much of a leap to imagine Dionysus slipping around the pillared corner of the spa’s relaxation area to join me for a glass of sparkling cava. There’s a half-full glass already positioned close at hand, standing guard over a small bowl of grapes. The spa attendants appear to be fully aware that forcing me to reach too far might spoil the mood.
Though the Hotel Peralada Wine Spa & Golf is set within the northeastern Costa Brava area of Spain’s Catalonia region, coveted by jet-setters for its namesake wild coastline and sapphire waters, there’s nothing here suggestive of dash or dazzle. Harmony is the reigning theme, from the vineyards overlooking the golf course to the serenely elegant guestrooms — and most definitely in the spa, where the selection of treatments and therapies was created specifically to capitalize on the healing botanical ingredients found in grapes. There’s even a line of bespoke antioxidant-rich hair and body products infused with grape extracts, ranging from Muscat Grape Body Gel and Merlot Grape Shampoo to rich face creams formulated with the powerful antioxidants found in the small, clustered fruits.
Every aspect of the spa reflects the property’s connection to wine. Deep mauves, soft plums and shades of violet color the upholstery; a line of tall windows spanning the length of the pool is filled with images of grapes, and stone urns line the pool’s edge, tilted to release a steady stream of water. The entire space is suggestive of a wine cellar, and it seems wise to offer up my absolute surrender.
The past hour and a quarter were spent solo, participating in the Divinum ritual, really intended for couples or small groups of up to six people. My private circuit commenced with a shower of tepid water, then progressed to a slightly warmer rain bath. This was followed by an extremely brief shower beneath cold water and a beeline to the sauna, an extraordinary space shaped like an immense wine cask. Relaxing in the penetrating heat, I tried to work out the construction logistics involved in creating the space and could only imagine a giant cooper calmly shaping wooden staves into a barrel shape, strapping it with iron rings while pausing occasionally to refresh himself from an enormous flask.
After the sauna, I cupped handfuls of ice from the ice fountain to my legs and feet in preparation for entering the steamy hammam, always one of my favorite moments of an aqua circuit. Afterward, I began my cool-down phase with a walk through a path of cold water lined with small, grape-shaped glass balls that provided a pretty thorough foot massage. After another 10 minutes or so in the Jacuzzi bath and a full-body rinse beneath the cold waterfall shower, I found myself in my private relaxation space gazing up, as noted, at the stained-glass Dionysus.
Mid-morning the next day, I enjoy the Essence of the Empordà, a half-hour soak in a deep, swirling bath of Peralada Merlot. Later, having formed a strong emotional attachment to the local wines, I take advantage of the hotel’s connection with Castillo Peralada a short drive away to learn more about the region’s winemaking traditions.
The medieval castle, built during the 14th century, is next to a crumbling Carmelite monastery. The art and craft of turning grapes into wines and cavas dates back to the castle’s beginnings, when ancient Greeks came ashore at the Gulf of Roses on the Iberian Peninsula and introduced viticulture to the region. Early winemaking endeavors by long-ago Carmelite monks were carefully documented, and ancient parchments detailing their efforts are on display in the castle library. Since the 1950s, the castle’s cellars have produced the much-lauded Cava Gran Claustro, aged in the monastery and rivaling the finest French Champagnes.
Wandering the halls, I learn that until 1960, cava was called Spanish champagne — until the ire of French wine producers was piqued and “Champagne” became a protected designation. The result of this monumental new law was not only an encompassing industry examination of provenance but also the introduction of Spain’s official Denominación de Origen, or Designation of Origin. To attain the D.O. classification today, only traditional champenoise methods can be used in cava production.
The estates where the castle’s grapes are grown spread across the hillsides between the towers and the hotel, each bearing an intriguing name: Finca Espolla, Finca Malaveïna and the renowned Finca Garbet, where tidy rows of vines curl down slopes toward the sea coast.
The next day, I follow the path from my room back to the spa for a final bit of relaxation: a four-handed exfoliating massage with wine sediments, made up of a blend of grape skins, leaves and seeds ground into a paste. Smoothed, limpid and carefree, I allow my therapists to lead me to a tub filled with water that glows with a gold sheen. I’m told it’s been laced with silk extracts that will moisturize me from head to toe. Once out of the water, a golden-hued antioxidant cream is massaged into my skin, and I slip away to the refuge of the lounge area, wrapped in a robe and ready for a nap.
As I’d hoped, the hotel has not run out of cava while I was being pampered. Sipping slowly from a glass that glitters in the subdued light, I try — and fail — to sympathize with Dionysus’ various responsibilities in retaining Greek god status: As it turns out, in the right setting, feeling completely divine is really rather easy.
Hotel Peralada Wine Spa & Golf
tel 34 972 53 88 30
Read This Next
Lotte Hotel Seoul
2014 / February 2014Jun 1, 2016
All Reads on This Topic
Read Them All
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Windstar Cruises Announces New Whole-Food, Plant-Based Menu
Windstar Cruises partnered with the National Health Association to create a new vegan menu available on all six of the line’s yachts. The plant-based dishes are prepared without added salt, oil or sugar, and are also gluten-free.
FXExpress Traveler of the Year
FXExpress Traveler of the Year Contest 2023
Viceroy Announces Partnership with Out & Equal
Viceroy Hotels & Resorts recently announced a partnership with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, the premier nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQIA+ workplace equality. O&E will provide Viceroy with LGBTQIA+ executive leadership development; comprehensive Diversity, Equality & Inclusion training and consultation; and opportunities for professional networking, creating and sustaining an inclusive and welcoming work environment.
One of Kyoto’s Newest Boutique Hotels Offers Japanese Traditional and Modern Design
Maana Homes is a boutique hospitality company in Kyoto with a mission to develop projects cultivating meaningful connections between Japanese culture and the rest of the world. Since the company’s beginnings in 2017, they have pushed the boundaries of traditional Japanese machiya by repositioning and giving them a new identity in the modern world. Machiya are traditional Japanese wooden townhouses popular with Kyoto merchants and craftspeople until just before World War II. Because Kyoto was not bombed during the war, many fine machiya survived to the present day.
Share Your Travel Preferences with Global Traveler in a Short Survey & Win
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan Introduces Spring Experiences
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan offers travelers exciting experiences this spring. Opened in July 2020, the property overlooks Lake Chūzenji and Mount Nantai in Japan’s Northern Kanto region. With cherry blossoms (Sakura) set to bloom in April, the area is the perfect destination for a spring getaway.
Austrian Airlines to Bring Back Flying Chefs
DailyMar 22, 2023
Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf Review
eFlyer ReviewsMar 22, 2023
eFlyer NewsMar 22, 2023
Meadow Homes, New Boutique Vacation Rental Platform in New England, Launches
A new upscale vacation rental platform invites travelers to enjoy boutique properties across New England. Meadow Homes debuts with more than 20 properties in the countryside of upstate New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont, with a keen focus on large, private homes close to popular lake and ski destinations.
Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler
Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler
eFlyer NewsMar 22, 2023
Chase Sapphire Unveils Sapphire Lounge in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Chase Sapphire recently unveiled the Sapphire Terrace on March 20 at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The new space provides Sapphire Reserve cardmembers with a place to relax and fuel up before flights. The indoor-outdoor space comes with lounge-like amenities.