Bernard Burt’s Best:
The New Spa
Researching my original spa guide in the 1980s was relatively simple: destinations, hotels, and resorts offered pampering, exercise, and weight loss. New Age retreats featured human potential programs; yoga ashrams added spiritual energy. In the 1990s, day spas developed; medical-beauty crossovers topped the news in 2000. Now the buzzwords are wellness and anti-aging. With our 2003 edition of 100 Best Spas of the World trendsetting designers continue changing the way we spa.
La Costa Resort’s massive new spa village should be in full swing this fall, says director Sean Handler. Designed in Spanish-Colonial style to complement southern California lifestyle, the complex includes forty-three treatment rooms, gardens and pools for relaxation, and an aerobics studio. The signature La Costa Bathing Ritual is included with the purchase of a treatment, preparing you physically and mentally for the spa treatment. The journey begins with identifying your goal or intention for visit: Indulge, Invigorate, or Inspire. Enjoy a relaxing whirlpool soak, followed by a sauna. Then receive an exfoliation scrub with the signature Intention Gel, loofah, and hydrating spray. The final flourish: sip a specially-prepared tonic that reflects your intention. For more information call (760) 438-9111 or visit www.lacosta.com.
Savor Northern California’s bountiful harvest in Napa Valley. After a major makeover, hillside Auberge du Soleil introduced new facilities and treatments. Spa du Soleil manager Peggy Francis suggests choosing a vineyard-oriented package. Try the three-hour “Opus” with fresh herbal grapeseed steam, followed by exfoliation using grapeseed crush, body masque with rosehip-grapeseed oil, and an antioxidant grapeseed facial. This luxurious inn and spa bring southern France to the vineyards north of San Francisco. For more information call (866) 282-3743 or visit www.aubergeresorts.com . . . Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail leads to Meadowood Resort, a country club for winemakers and lovers of food and wine. Although it may be the smallest spa in the valley, treatments featuring grapeseed extracts are topnotch. Join spa director Jim Root, an avid birdwatcher, on wooded trails that climb above the resort. Croquet is taken seriously here, as well as winemaker dinners and tastings hosted by resident specialist John Thoreen. For more information call (707) 967-1274 or visit www.meadowwood.com.
Arizona spas come in all sizes; my long-time favorite in Phoenix/Scottsdale just got bigger and better. The newly expanded Spa at Marriott’s Camelback redefines Southwestern style, from the mountain view cafe to secluded treatment rooms. Comprehensive salon and bodywork services help you adjust to desert living. Try the Aloe Vera Rehydrating treatment or the Adobe Clay Purification. Swim laps in the spa’s adult-only pool, or workout in the spacious aerobics and exercise rooms. Finally, soak in the Sonoran Desert sun on one of the two terraces where you can relax au natural. For more information call (800) 242-2635 or visit www.camelbackinn.com.
Hawaiian legend, Honolulu’s Halekulani Hotel opened its long-awaited spa in traditional island style. Set amid lush gardens on Waikiki Beach, Spa Halekulani has seven treatment suites. Order a spa lunch on the terrace and enjoy the views of Diamond Head Mountain. A sybaritic oasis, Halekulani’s five-building complex rates five stars. For more information call (800) 367-2343 or visit www.halekulani.com. Maui’s newest spa is at a long-time island favorite, Four Seasons Resort at Wailea, where Hawaiian healing traditions envelop you indoors and out. Enjoy a massage on the beach under thatch-roofed cabanas, enhanced by the sounds of the sea. The Healing Garden planted with indigenous herbs leads to treatment rooms where legends come alive. Satisfy your inner self at Four Seasons’ new restaurant by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. For more information call (808) 334-6284 or visit www.fourseasons.com/maui.
Sky High in North Carolina
Celebrate the centennial of flight on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Close to the beach where the Wright Brothers’ first flight opened a new era of travel, The Sanderling Resort features a full service spa and gourmet dining on the dunes in a village called Duck. Reminiscent of old-fashioned beach houses, the resort complex includes a historic lifesaving station (lots of shipwrecks here) where you can dine close to the water’s edge. The Sanderling’s new oceanfront spa offers warm Sea Stone massage, Seawater soaks, and a Sea Mud wrap. Dinner at The Left Bank restaurant naturally features local seafood, but chef George Robinson’s innovative menu also includes foie gras, Pacific oysters topped with golden caviar, and seared duck breast. Aviation buffs can combine events with their stay; the Wright Stuff package Dec. 12–18 includes tickets, meals, $149.32 per person, double occupancy (four night minimum stay). Blending southern hospitality and continental service, The Sanderling sets spirits soaring. For more information call (800) 701-4111 or visit www.thesanderling.com.