FX Excursions

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

Umstead Spa Channels the Native Terrain of North Carolina

by Becca Hensley

May 18, 2021


April/May 2021

Banjo-picking bluegrass star Earl Scruggs credited his home state for being the soul of his characteristic talent. “My music came up from the soil of North Carolina,” he said. Driving through the state’s northeastern Piedmont region, an area rife with old pine growth, flowering dogwood trees, maples, oaks, hemlocks, wildflowers and herbs, it’s easy to intuit his inspiration. Just glimpsing the foothill-peppered terrain, a swath lying between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains, awakens something in the heart. That’s what makes the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary — basically a suburb of Raleigh — so unique. Enveloped by 12 acres of verdant woodland near William B. Umstead State Park, it overlooks a lake and a well-marked nature path. Surprisingly, though, the stylish hotel does not lie in the bucolic countryside. Occupying prime real estate just off the highway, a few exits from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, it nevertheless melds into nature as an urban oasis and greenspace just spitting distance from the concrete jungle.

Worthy of its surrounding location, Umstead Hotel and Spa, the region’s most highly rated hotel, gifts visitors with lofty interiors; panoramic windows that frame and celebrate the outdoors; and a prodigious art collection, complete with a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture. Its signature restaurant, Herons, has become a local hangout and garnered critical culinary acclaim. But many would argue the retreat’s bi-level, 16,000-square-foot spa is its biggest temptation. Like a haven within a haven, the spa embodies the hotel’s mission to immerse its guests into North Carolina’s healing, regenerative natural landscape. “We draw inspiration from the region’s flora,” said Carolyn Doe, spa director.



Architecturally, the expanse, with 11 treatment rooms and a meditation garden, incorporates river rock, granite, bamboo and glass, each meant to reflect the Piedmont’s habitat. Terraces open to a vast lawn with parkland in view. But it is the thoughtful spa journeys themselves that most evoke the surrounding topography. “We offer a distinct North Carolina experience through our programming,” said Doe. “Our menu has a blend of treatments that range from relaxing to intensive, but we also include treatments that tie into nature, local re- sources and product vendors from in and around our state,” she added. She noted the Organic Facial, executed with De La Terre products, as an example. The brand is based in North Carolina.

Reserve a long day at the curative Umstead Spa to reboot. With 5-star service and specific COVID-19 modifications for safety, it offers various options for vitality. One step into the aesthetically pleasing sanctum and you’ll relax. “Our ambiance is created through a focus on art, nature and wellness,” said Doe. You might shop in the spa boutique, work out in the fitness center, splash (quietly) in the open roof co-ed pool or mediate in the alfresco courtyard. But to linger longer and to immerse further into the local environment, choose one of the creative, indigenously reflective Spa Experiences, transformational expeditions to the soulful realm. Each creatively invokes North Carolina’s natural healing arsenal. Consider The Emerald, a detoxifying escape inspired by the state’s most precious gemstone. This ritual, an ode to the emerald stone (a historic symbol of nature, hope and renewal) begins with a dry brushing, moves. to achromo (colorlight) therapy tub soak replete with mineral salts and herbs, then ends with a soothing Swedish massage. Or opt for the Piedmont Experience, using packets of healing herbs and Thai-inspired movements to unravel the knots — metaphorically and otherwise.

While the three most popular treatments — Custom Massage, European Facial and Serenity Manicure — have more to do with wellness and beauty maintenance, the Umstead Spa also satisfies those with a penchant for the exotic and unusual. The Indonesian Ancestral Massage “transports guests to Indonesia with sounds, aromas and a massage treatment,” said Doe. It utilizes coconut oil, sandalwood oil and jasmine flower extract and detoxifies and enlivens with a guided breathing technique known as Mayonggo.

The spa proudly meets state and local guidelines regarding COVID- 19. Temporarily, it modified some operations; for example, only guests with spa appointments have access to the spa, and some treatments will be unavailable for the near future. What can be done for those who yearn for a spa treatment but find themselves not quite ready to commit to being in a spa during these uncertain times? The Umstead Spa has thought of everything.“We can provide DIY services to houseguests as well as retail shopping pickup or drop off. We’re currently working, too, to provide virtual consultations to our guests who purchase skin care products from us, as well as adding products to our retail offering that encourage DIY experiences,” said Doe.

Like Scruggs’ music, Umstead Hotel and Spa, full of nature’s trove of well-being, harnesses the “soil” of North Carolina. Visit to see for yourself.


FX Excursions

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

Explore Excursions


Insta Feed
Feb 23, 2024

The Radical: A New Boutique Hotel, Opens in Asheville, North Carolina’s, River Arts District

Once an abandoned 1923 constructed warehouse in Asheville, North Carolina, it took a creative group of designers, artists, musicians, chefs and business folks to transform a neglected, 100-year-old structure into one of Asheville’s most interesting and daring hotel projects.

The Argosaronic Islands Are Calling

The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.

February 2024
Feb 23, 2024

Pickle Up: Get in on America’s Fastest Growing Sport

Early on, pickleball had something to do with pickles. Pickles the dog, that is. In one story, the game was named for a family dog that ran off with the ball between sets.

Feb 23, 2024

Hôtel Norman Opens Near the Top of Champs Elysées

Located a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe, Olivier Bertrand recently opened Hôtel Norman for those looking to explore the city.

Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler

Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler

Feb 23, 2024

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco Completes Renovations

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco recently completed renovations of its entrances, lobby, culinary concepts and meeting space. This marks the final stage of the renovation, which began in 2021 with the revitalization of its 269 guestrooms and 45 suites.

Feb 21, 2024

Make Alberta, Canada, Your Next Wellness Getaway

Rich in mountains, prairies, forests and hot springs, Alberta, Canada, takes nature and wellness travel to a whole new level. Combine the beauty of this western Canadian province with relaxation and you’re in for a treat.

Experience Luxury and Tranquility at Hamad International Airport’s Hotel

Known as one of the best airports in the world and voted Best Airport in the Middle East by Global Traveler readers, Hamad International Airport aims to set new standards for the airport industry that exceed the expectations of travelers through its facility.

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 21, 2024

Amantaka Review

You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.