Spa + Wellness
When they need to recover from stress, smog, or something stronger, West Coasters head for arid climes. A detox taxonomy.
Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs, California
The vibe: Ultra-private, 1920’s-era romantic weekender’s hideaway (first revealed to noncelebs in Robert Altman’s 1992 satire The Player). Everything has been recently redone, from the tree-shaded grotto to the yoga dome, gym, and glass-walled restaurant.
The draw: Midnight soaks in heated mineral pools; discreet bungalows with patios or yards.
In the adjacent mud bath: Famous friends of the Hollywood movie producer owners—not that you’d recognize them after their lithium-rich mud baths.
Between long security lines, delayed flights, and mind-numbing jet lag, it seems impossible to shake the anxiety that comes along with traveling. Thankfully, Plaza Premium Lounges offer a place to decompress before taking off—regardless of airline or traveler loyalty memberships. Their first European lounge recently opened at London Heathrow.
A trailblazing retreat at the foot of the Himalayas is reinventing the spa experience.
Set on 21 acres of lychee and mango orchards in the forests of India’s Uttarakhand state, 150 miles north of New Delhi, Vana Malsi Estate is the opposite of a tough-love boot camp. It’s a luxury ashram with an East-meets-West treatment menu, a farm-to-table ethos, and a sleek Modernist design, softened by the sounds of birds, rhesus monkeys, and melodious flute players.
Since it opened last spring, international jet-setters have been using Vana as a one-stop rejuvenation shop. After an initial consultation with a holistic doctor, guests receive a custom-tailored program that includes sessions across various disciplines. Therapists might draw on an ancient healing practice called Sowa Rigpa, from the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute; a Chinese-medicine doctor may read your tongue and face to pinpoint ailments. Flute vibrations elevate meditation classes, held in outdoor pavilions, and days end in a private Watsu pool at the spa.
There’s nothing quite like the hotel spa experience. You can book an appointment last-minute; ride the elevator wearing just a bathrobe (with no shame); bask in a beautifully designed space; and head back to your room without even glancing at a bill.
These days, hotel spas are stepping up their game, partnering with top beauty brands to bring a new level of sophistication to their treatments and products. Here, one of our favorites:
An exciting new development is about to hit Times Square—famed stylist Ted Gibson is moving into the Knickerbocker Hotel, a Beaux Arts-style landmark property opening this fall.
The scissor siren will oversee on-site salon services (in addition to his Fifth Avenue flagship and outpost at the W Fort Lauderdale); provide cuts for high-end clients that include Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong’o (a service that will set you back $1,200); and, most importantly—take on the newly minted role of Style Curator.
To all American men, I have an announcement: it’s time to let go of your spa phobias. Set aside any machismo sentiments, because there’s never been a better time to be a man—and a well-groomed one, at that.
As an editor who covers beauty and wellness, I’m always on the lookout for the latest in skin-care, cosmetics, spa treatments—you name it. Few trends have been as hard to miss as the current emphasis on men’s grooming. And few have found a way to capitalize on the increasing spa-friendly audience as famed stylist Julien Farel with JF Men, his new men’s-only floor dedicated to full-service grooming, at the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City.
There’s no shortage of five-star hotels here in Manhattan. Five-star hotels with top-notch spas—now, that’s another story. The Four Seasons New Yorkrecently upped its game with a complete design overhaul, replacing the crammed check-in area with a warm, silver-and-chocolate-toned lobby that feels both spacious and inviting.
It feels much later than it is at Aro Ha Wellness Retreat—45 minutes outside of Queenstown in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. But the afternoon meditation session is about to begin, and after the exhausting day you’ve had, a good stretch is just what your body needs. Today’s 6 a.m. yoga class seems like a distant memory after that 10-mile hike on Mount Judah, high above Lake Wakatipu, where only your labored breathing pierced the silence. Why, again, did you sign up for this weeklong test of endurance? Now you remember, as the sun begins its slow descent behind the snowcapped mountain peaks, drenching everything in a golden glow. The calming energy of the studio—and that incomparable view—clears your mind as each exhalation coaxes the tightness from your muscles. Transformation couldn’t come at a better time. Or place. aro-ha.com; all-inclusive. $$$$
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000
Photo courtesy of Aro Ha Wellness Retreat
Want to practice your photography skills in Mexico or cruise the Mediterranean? This month’s deals have you covered.
Art & Culture
Beijing and Shanghai: 36% off insider’s tour
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• Airport meet and greet
• Private guided tour of Beijing including stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall
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Are the latest beauty and wellness products worthy of a spot in your teensy carry-on? T+L Associate Editor Kathryn O’Shea-Evans shares her take.
The product: Clinique Superdefense SPF 20 Daily Defense Moisturizer; $47
Pros: I admit it: sometimes the sheer selection of facial potions, lotions, and—dare I say it, BB or CC or even ZZ creams—is enough to make me feel like breaking out in hives. I’m all about simplicity in the morning, so I’ve fallen head-over-ballet-flats in love with Clinique’s new moisturizer: it helps minimize the appearance of UV damage, prevents future damage with an SPF 20, and leaves my skin with a long-lasting dewy glow (thanks to ingredients such as barley and wheat germ extract). I’ll spare you the science-y details behind why it works, but lemme tell you: it does.
Cons: I will probably have to buy a new jar every month, I’m so addicted to the stuff.
Photo Courtesy of Clinique
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.