FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Top Destination Spas

Jul 1, 2013
2013 / July 2013

What’s the difference between a tune-up and an overhaul? A touch-up and a makeover? A refresh and a renovation?

Time? Money? Results?

If you guessed all three, you’re right.

The same could be said for the difference between a day spa and a destination spa.

While the occasional massage, facial or body scrub has become de rigueur in terms of routine maintenance, an annual (or better yet, semi-annual) multiday spa immersion is the equivalent of hitting the reset button on mind-body wellness.

YOUR BODY KNOWS MORE than your mind could ever imagine. It was a late Sunday afternoon in spring. My sister, Nancy, and I had arrived at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., a few hours earlier. Never one to sit still for long, Nancy ran off to a knitting class. Yes. Knitting. At a spa resort. Her theory? Finding an activity that would keep her occupied in a relatively passive manner would enhance her chances of successful meditation. And she’d get a new scarf, to boot.

I, on the other hand, find it fairly easy to slip into meditation. Hint: A former yoga teacher taught me to picture the thoughts that inevitably drift into consciousness during meditation as puffy clouds I can simply push away. More recently, someone suggested imagining my consciousness as a babbling stream where crystal-clear water flows easily over and around pebbles that represent my thoughts. Find a tool or an image that works for you and the rest will follow.

But I digress. My personal journey involves finding ways to go deeper into meditation and enhance its benefits. A class titled “Healing Energy Self Care” caught my eye, so I made a beeline for the yoga studio where, instead of a stereotypically lithe female instructor, I discovered a somewhat paunchy, mildly disheveled, middle-aged man in the lead position. Although he appeared more “absent-minded professor” than “New Age guru,” there was something charming and innately calming about his demeanor.

Before leading us through a series of chakra meditations, the instructor offered a brief overview covering the basics of chi, or universal energy, how it flows through our bodies and how blocked energy caused by stress or trauma can manifest physically and emotionally. When he reminded us, “Your body knows more than your mind could ever imagine,” I knew I was exactly where I should be at that time and place. And it was only Day 1.

Anyone who’s visited a day spa or found time to squeeze in a massage appointment at a hotel spa knows all too well that dreaded it’s-almost-over feeling. It usually pops in with a bang at the very moment you’re beginning to relax: It’s almost like the hypnic jerk many of us experience just as we’re about to fall asleep. Realizing you’re on Day 1 of a four-day spa stay? Nirvana.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING as a one-size-fits-all destination spa retreat. The experience varies from property to property and even within a specific property. The beauty of a destination spa getaway is, if you plan well and indulge in treatments and activities based on your own personal goals and needs, you’ll be ready, willing and able to go the distance when it’s time for re-entry.

Kettle bell workout © Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

Kettle bell workout © Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

At Canyon Ranch Lenox, my sister, Nancy, a registered nurse, ran from one activity to the next, reveling in an early-morning abs workout followed by a kettle bell class with a quick break for lunch before heading off to a lecture on memory and brain chemistry. While I joined her for one abs workout and tried (but didn’t like) the kettle bell class, my schedule focused more on yoga and meditation. Still, we spent plenty of time together, including a morning hike in the foothills of the Berkshires and, of course, at the spa.

Founded in 1979 by Mel Zuckerman and his wife, Enid, the original Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., remains one of the world’s premier destination spas. In addition to its locations in Tucson and Lenox, the brand now includes Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa in Miami Beach and Canyon Ranch Spa Clubs at The Homestead in West Virginia, at The Venetian and at The Palazzo in Las Vegas, and on board the Queen Mary 2.

That’s a heady roster for a concept born from the owner’s personal weight-loss and health goals. Fast-forward 30-plus years, and the Canyon Ranch philosophy remains rooted in healthy living as a lifestyle choice, but the overall viewpoint has expanded to incorporate mind-body wellness. Still, Canyon Ranch remains committed to certain healthy-choice policies. Salt and pepper aren’t included with table settings; alcohol of any kind is verboten outside private guestrooms. Ordering a cappuccino at the on-site café? Be sure to specify whole milk, if that’s your preference. It’s available upon request, but the baristas, at least at the Lenox location, are only allowed to ask, “Skim or 1 percent?”

Other acclaimed wellness destinations are more liberal. During a three-night stay at Miraval in Tucson, Ariz., last fall, I indulged in a glass of wine every evening in addition to enjoying some of the best meals I can remember. My sister, Nancy, was with me on this trip, too. Select two out of three desserts from the dinner menu. Umm … we’d like to try all three, please. No problem. Is that the most delicious brownie ever? Let’s bring a couple back to our room for later.

Indulgent? Yes. What I know is this: I lost seven pounds without trying and without once feeling deprived. And while I welcomed the unexpected weight loss, it wasn’t the goal of my stay. Magic? Maybe. More likely, the credit goes to Miraval’s team of accomplished chefs who routinely come up with innovative ways to create healthy food without surrendering to tasteless ingredients. (Been there. Done that. Bought the cookbook!)

Guests prepare for a leap of faith © Mirival

Guests prepare for a leap of faith © Miraval

Like Canyon Ranch Lenox, Miraval offers an almost daunting roster of activities ranging from rock climbing and desert hikes to morning meditation and over-the-top spa treatments. While the spa is spectacular — it would be tempting to spend days on end never venturing beyond the soothing complex — even the most spectacular massage can’t rival the memory of an early-morning hike in the Sonoran Desert watching the sun rise above the horizon.

Experiencing moments like a sunrise is the very essence of the Miraval philosophy:

“Mindfulness is the core of the Miraval philosophy. In everything we do, we encourage our guests to live in the present moment, conscious of the unique intersection of mind, body and spirit.”

Mind, body and spirit came together for me when I decided to push my personal boundaries by participating in one of Miraval’s signature experiences, Swing and a Prayer. The group activity involves donning a helmet and strapping into a harness attached to a rope strung horizontally 35 feet above the ground. Once secured, other group members hoist the “swinger” into place, where it’s up to the swinger to decide when to let go.

Staring out at the desert from 35 feet in the air, I made a decision to let go — literally and figuratively. I made a vow to let go of fear, self-doubt and judgment. I took a deep breath and I let go. The release was powerful; the feeling of freedom was liberating. I had asked one member of the group to take my photo at the top of the line.

She did better. She made a video for me. It’s still on my iPhone; whenever I feel fear or self-doubt creeping back into my life, I watch myself let go and I remember that feeling.

SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE ARIZONA is rich in metaphysical energy, a difficult-to-describe “vibration” that promotes physical and emotional healing. True? Who knows. But it’s interesting to note some of the country’s most renowned destination spas are in similar “vortex” locations.

The island of Maui has a similar reputation. That’s especially true of upcountry Maui, home to Lumeria Maui. Coincidence? I think not.

Lumeria Maui lobby © Lumeria Maui

Lumeria Maui lobby © Lumeria Maui

Award-winning architect and conservator Xorin Balbes, known for high-profile restorations including Lloyd Wright’s 1926 Sowden House and silent screen star Norma Talmadge’s 1920 Talmadge Villa, discovered the property in 2009 while searching for a vacation home on Maui. The 1911 Craftsman-style structure had fallen into disrepair, but Balbes recognized its potential.

He also felt its pull. The property is rich in geodes, hollow rock formations often lined on the inside with crystals.

“Having the geodes in almost all of the environments that I have lived has always supported a deep and profound feeling of peace in me,” Balbes said in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “Because the geodes come from being inside the earth and not on the earth’s surface, they usually act as a very grounding energy for a home or other space.”

In a video posted on the Lumeria website, Balbes describes seeing the property for the first time: “It was clear to me it was a soul calling; that I was here to restore it and give it its next 100 years of life.”

During its first century, the former Fred C. Baldwin Memorial Home had served as a convalescence home, a college dormitory and housing for World War II veterans.

Balbes envisioned a sanctuary.

Following an extensive renovation carefully planned to honor the property’s heritage, Lumeria Maui opened in March 2012 as an alternative to the island’s modern resorts and hotels in traffic-riddled beachfront locations. Although it’s not a destination spa per se, its tranquil setting lends itself to a wellness experience.

The daily schedule of activities is heavy on yoga and meditation, starting with a sunrise meditation and often ending with yoga nidra, a practice designed to release physical and emotional tension, giving way to deep relaxation. In between, guests may choose to relax in a hammock, experiment with essential oils or learn how to cultivate an edible garden.

Every aspect of each day centers on the Lumeria promise: Emerge refreshed, enlightened and connected to the natural rhythm of your soul.

That’s what I’d call a makeover.

Read more about Miraval here.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Sep 17, 2021

Hotel del Coronado Reveals New Lobby, Front Porch

Legendary Hotel del Coronado reached another milestone in its $400 million Master Plan reimagination, with the completion of an extensive, historic restoration of the hotel’s front porch and lobby; a redesigned main entry and drive experience; new guestrooms in The Views area; and refreshed retail concepts.

The Future of Hamad International Airport

Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.

September 2021
Sep 16, 2021

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Boasts Impressive Collections and a Friendly Vibe

As a native of the Philadelphia region, I’m quite familiar with the drive in and out of the City of Brotherly Love. Even as the city’s skyline continually transforms, my favorite views of Philadelphia have always been along Boathouse Row, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art rising in the background, before looping around the museum to the flag-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Home to many of Philadelphia’s incredible and world-renowned museums, the Fairmount neighborhood is fittingly aesthetically pleasing and practically synonymous with fine art.

Daily
Sep 16, 2021

Rosewood San Francisco to Open in 2026

Set to open in 2026, Rosewood San Francisco will be the last skyscraper developed in the downtown region for the foreseeable future. The projected 800-foot-tall property will host a hotel, residences, office and rental spaces. The brand’s third property in California will join Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

September 2021
Sep 15, 2021

Slow Down and Unwind in Easy-Going Phuket

It’s not even 9a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.

eFlyer Deals
Sep 15, 2021

A Master Class in Tuscan Wine at Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection

Tuscany’s Lucca is home to Grand Universe Lucca, which brings the region’s best wines front and center to its guests. The hotel features three immersive Tuscan Wine tasting experiences: Montalcino, Montecarlo, and Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico.

Greece: Destination Luxury

Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.

eFlyer Lead
Sep 15, 2021

Puerto Rico Reiterates Its Commitment to LGBTQ+ Community with New Initiatives

Discover Puerto Rico reiterated its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community with strong participation at the 2021 International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association Annual Global Convention, where it provided insight into a variety of new efforts to foster inclusion on a local and global scale.