Even in “normal” times, folks gravitate to wellness resorts to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, destress and be nurtured. In this COVID-19-era state of elevated anxiety, people seek even more natural beauty and caring hospitality, healthy food, fitness activities and beauty and body treatments. Canyon Ranch Lenox also provides an extensive staff of experts offering a multitude of health, wellness and spiritual well-being modalities that alleviate personal issues.
After eight months in an at-home bubble, this risk-averse spa aficionado debated “venturing out.” Yet I was curious to learn how a premier, integrative health and wellness destination handles COVID-19 safety protocols. It follows state regulations and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and its own team of experts led by Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, and the 17th Surgeon General of the United States.
Two factors influenced my decision: trust that these most celebrated life-enhancement properties — which I previously admired in Las Vegas, Lenox and Tucson — merit their 40 years of “Best of ” accolades, and confidence that guests choosing holistic retreats prioritize their personal well-being and diligently accept COVID-19 protocols. (They do.)
I drove from my Long Island home to pristine and perfect Lenox, Massachusetts, via the sparsely populated Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry. Lenox lies a scenic, two-hour drive from Bridgeport (or Boston) and three hours from Manhattan. With my Girl Scout motto “Be prepared” in mind, I packed water, masks, gloves, clear plastic shields, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and snacks.
Wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers built 19th-century Gilded Age cottages in these extraordinarily beautiful Berkshire foothills, including one called Bellefontaine, which Canyon Ranch established as its East Coast base in 1989. The 1897 mansion — with its wood-paneled library — replicates the Petit Trianon in Versailles and serves as the centerpiece of the three-structure holistic retreat. The mansion’s upper level houses the Health and Healing Center. The ground floor offers a library; lounges; the casual CR Rebel café; and the gracious, window-walled Canyon Ranch Grill, where many of the dining tables have been removed from each of three airy rooms to provide a sense of space and safety.
A six-foot-wide, well-ventilated, temperature-controlled, glass-walled corridor connects the mansion to the 126-room inn and to the 100,000-square- foot Spa and Sports Facility, where signup sheets are posted for activities including popular, physically distant outdoor sports (snowshoeing and cross-country and downhill skiing among them). The vaulted space — with its upper-level running track — houses an extraordinary array of fitness and sports facilities, a boutique, a nail salon, a spa and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
As for its COVID-19 protocols, Canyon Ranch engages guests in pre-arrival correspondence and chats with program advisors. Upon arriving, guests will find temperature checks at the gate; self-parking (the bellman takes luggage and provides transportation to/from the parking lot); and paperwork and a sealed, wrapped pen awaiting at the front desk, where a Plexiglass shield provides protection (other barriers are at the Host Station and Program Advising desk). A sealed entry door indicates room readiness; privacy signs assure no one enters. On site, masks are required for all guests and staff members; activities have fewer participants, usually with advance reservations; and signage illustrates physical distancing.
I arrived in time for lunch and decided to see if I’d be comfortable in the dining room; I felt relaxed because there were a few well-spaced tables, few guests and a waitstaff that takes every precaution, including disinfecting the table and chairs after guests leave (dinner requires timed reservations).
After nine months without a facial, mani-pedi or haircut, I booked treatments for the first afternoon. Katie provided the much-appreciated and excellent massage, and a different Katie offered a wonderful, hydrating facial. That night, a knock on the door announced room service, and I discovered a large paper bag perched on a plastic table. The boxed food, if not the presentation, was wonderful.
Executive Chef Dan Hardy’s delightful menu elevates familiar dishes and adds a wide variety of Mediterranean and Asian items. I particularly appreciated his healthful preparation of some favored comfort foods: crab cakes, pan- cakes, turkey pot pie, an eggplant tower with mozzarella cheese, and cookies. I also enjoyed grilled vegetable panini; filet of beef; an apricot-mustard salmon; multicolor beet and orange sitting on a swoosh of yogurt; and an array of quinoa, pearl couscous and bean salads. Having not eaten in a restaurant since Feb. 28, 2020, “dining out” was a particular pleasure.
So was the feeling of space, everywhere, because the resort books at 40- percent occupancy and I was there mid-week, with even fewer guests. In fact, I was the sole attendee at Kelly Clady’s Chinese Medicine lecture and in a yoga class; one of three at the after-dinner cabaret performance, where a plastic screen separated us from Berkshire native and Broadway pianist/singer Ron Ramsay; we were four participants at Demonstration Chef Maggie O’Mara’s knife skills class; and at Cynthia Geyer, MD’s sessions, one had three attendees and one had five.
What I appreciate most about Canyon Ranch were the dozens of options to learn about personal wellness. Plus, it felt safe, everywhere.
The Oberoi, Marrakech introduces its new holistic wellness program, SAHA. Meaning health in Arabic, SAHA aims to help guests reach their full wellbeing potential. The program operates on four key cornerstones: soul & spirit, active body, holistic treatments and a better plate.
Much of the global business travel industry has already made sustainable business travel a priority with a focus on reducing emissions and their environmental footprint. But the industry, as well as external stakeholders, such as policymakers, recognize more needs to be done.
Filled with sunshine and beauty, Valencia, Spain, is also a great destination for diving into culture and art. Named World Design Capital for 2022, Spain’s third-largest city boasts a wealth of museums providing glimpses into history and fine art.
Nassau Paradise Island resorts pull out all the stops for foodies this season with new culinary offerings to elevate guests' experiences. The Bahamas is home to chef-driven, award-winning restaurants, authentic meals and delicious drink options. In the next couple of months, the offerings and festivals provide an unforgettable culinary experience for everyone.
United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.
Rosewood Vienna opened Aug. 1, marking Rosewood’s first hotel in the German-speaking market and its fifth European property. The 19th-century hotel, situated at Petersplatz, sits just steps away from many of Vienna’s historical and cultural sites, including St. Stephen Cathedral and Kunsthistorisches Museum. Guests won’t even have to leave the hotel to immerse themselves in the rich history of Vienna, as the hotel encompasses the apartment where Mozart lived and wrote The Abduction from the Seraglio.
Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa’s new summer offers provides guests with unique and memorable ways to explore the region and relax on the property. The Lowcountry Adventure offer, in partnership with Outside Hilton Head, features a custom-designed, five-hour program for up to six people. The offer includes a variety of all-day adventures and activities around Hilton Head, such as boating local waterways, visiting private islands and exploring small towns. Guests wanting to book this experience can book a three-night stay through Oct. 31, with a 21-day advance booking required.
When American travelers make plans to visit Portugal, Lisbon is usually their first stop.
For the first time in American Queen Voyages’ history, the cruise line offers free round-trip air from select gateways for guests booking their entire voyage from either San Diego to Puerto Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta to San Jose, Costa Rica. These new itineraries offer 15-, eight- and nine-day voyages to these destinations beginning Oct. 3.