In Brussels, Avenue Louise is arguably the most posh address in the city; and the Conrad Hotel on Avenue Louise is arguably the most posh hotel in the city. Not only is it home away from home for visiting bigwigs, it’s a magnet for status-conscious locals who frequent the hotel’s Café Wiltcher’s for lunch, dinner and especially Sunday brunch, and who work out and spa — because if you’re dining regularly at Café Wiltcher’s you have to work out and spa — at the Aspria Avenue Louise Institut de Bien-Être in the hotel.
Located on three subterranean levels, the spa is cool and modern without a discernable style. The fitness center, which opens at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, fills up quickly after office hours, and the dreamy blue pool one level below it attracts a goodly number of lap swimmers. This being Belgium —chocolate capital of the world — the spa’s street entrance faces Pierre Marcolini Chocolatier, one of the best in the city, although the “beautiful people” entering and leaving the club on a pleasant weekday evening didn’t seem to grasp that irony.
Because I was a Conrad Hotel guest, I entered the spa on the hotel side, down a private elevator with exclusive keycard access. There is a strong members-only feeling here and the reception desk staff very carefully checked my treatment reservation to be perfectly sure that I belonged.
Admittedly, I’d never pass for a fashionable local or even for one of the hotel’s many Eurocrat guests. Nevertheless, I made it past the velvet rope — or in this case, electronic gate — and into the women’s changing room where I had to insert a €2 coin to release the key from my locker. (The coin was returned when I was finished, but I still found the system odd in such an exclusive establishment.)
Arriving early left me time to use the sauna and to relax beside the pool — there’s also a whirlpool and steam room, both coed — before I embarked on a 30-minute massage followed by a 30-minute mini-facial.
Because the massage was brief, the therapist concentrated on the areas I requested — my back and shoulders —using Aromatherapy Associates oil designed to improve circulation. She did just as I asked, and when she was finished I regretted that I didn’t have more time to spend on the table. The treatment room was simple, comfortable and larger than many I’ve seen, and the ambient music was soothing.
Lightheaded, but in a very nice way, I made my way to the facialist’s room. This one was smaller than the massage treatment room, yet somehow less cozy and definitely more clinical. My inability to speak French and the facialist’s tentative command of English meant that we spent our time almost entirely in silence. She set to work with Decléor cleansing milk, scrub, serum and mask, then left me to relax for 10 minutes while the mask set — long enough to let my mind wander toward sleep before her soft knock at the door brought me back to reality.
After my facial, I reclaimed my cushioned lounge chair beside the pool and let the massage sink in, listening to the water rippling and gazing up through the windows of the fitness center at the young executive types lifting weights and pumping away on the elliptical trainers. There was just a little too much preening going on for me to take them seriously. (Did that guy with the shaved head really need to gaze into the mirror so intently while he did his bicep curls?) Then I reminded myself that despite the fact that this spa and fitness center are located in a hotel they are still, primarily, part of a big-city health club. That’s why, in addition to workout areas and treatment rooms, the Aspria Avenue Louise Institut de Bien-Être has as its centerpiece a lounge area where stylish folks, some in street clothes and some in workout gear, meet up for drinks and snacks.
Which is not to say that spa treatments are an afterthought here. They’re done professionally and with care by well-trained therapists. And more im portantly in these days of can-you-top-this treatments, the spa doesn’t offer more than it can handle well. Thus, you’ll find a fine selection of massages, a healthy handful of body and facial treatments using Decléor, Aromatherapy Associates and Temple Spa products, a few treatments geared for men or for mothers-to-be and a complement of manicures and pedicures. You won’t find anything weird or wacky; not even a chocolate body wrap (as if Belgians would waste their good chocolate on such things!).
London-based Aspria operates several spas and health clubs: three in Brussels and one each in Berlin and Hamburg. The Avenue Louise location opened in 2005 and the newest addition to the facility is an EasyPlay golf simulator that replicates course conditions on some 50 international courses. It can be used solo for a fee of €25 (about $34) or with a coach for €60 (about $80). Clubs are provided.
If there’s a downside here it’s the fact that, even though the spa and fitness center are on the premises, guests of the pricey Conrad Hotel Brussels must pay a €25 day fee to use all the amenities, including the pool, sauna, steam room and exercise equipment. Or maybe that’s a small price to pay to be among the beautiful people.
West Palm Beach, Florida, recently welcomed AKA West Palm, a hotel residence offering long-stay accommodations. As AKA’s second South Florida property, AKA West Palm features 215 hotel residences comprised of studios, one- and two-bedroom spaces, and Penthouse suites. The five-story hotel blends modern luxuries with comfort and simplicity, with sleek kitchens, washers and dryers, and private terraces. Room furnishings contrast with a backdrop of stone, metal and wood to create simple, clean lines with minimal contrast.
There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*
Birmingham, Alabama, was named for the city in the English Midlands that kept the fires burning, warmed the homes and made much of the steel for the United Kingdom’s industrial revolution. Decades later, the American city also made steel, so much of it, in fact, it became known as the “Magic City” for steel production, and the moniker stuck. But today’s Magic City makes more than steel, taking the raw product a few more steps to become a major center for automobile parts manufacturing and more, including Honda, Mercedes-Benz and U.S. Steel. Thanks to local leadership and long-term planning, the magic still works for Birmingham, as evidenced by its role hosting The World Games 2022 last summer.
As New York City’s leading Latino cultural institution, El Museo del Barrio welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic landscape of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American cultures. El Museo’s wide-ranging collections and exhibitions represent these cultures’ richness, complemented by film, literary, visual and performing arts series, cultural celebrations and educational programs. Ranging from pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art, the permanent collection totals more than 8,000 objects.
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.
Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown recently reopened its Fairmont Gold, introducing amenities, a contemporary new style in the Fairmont Gold Lounge and dedicated concierges. The 48-room, three-suite Fairmont Gold, positioned as an urban oasis, takes over the entire ninth floor of the hotel and delivers exceptional service to meet guests’ needs.
The results are in! For the 19th consecutive year, Global Traveler conducted its GT Tested Reader Survey, asking frequent luxury travelers to name the best in a variety of travel-related categories. More than 22,000 people responded. Global Traveler’s inaugural awards were celebrated in 2004.
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.
Originally a thriving Colonial seaport, Newport became the summer playground for the Gilded Age’s elite in the late 1880s. Today their mansions dot the coast of Aquidneck Island, and their favorite pastimes — sailing and tennis — still dominate the city’s recreational offerings. In fact, Newport hosted the first U.S. Open tennis championship in 1881 and golf tourna- ment in 1895 and hosted the America’s Cup from 1930 to 1983. You can experience most of Newport on your own, including the mansions, but don’t rule out a guided tour or two when you visit.