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Past travel articles organized by activity and interest.

spas

Saturday, March 29, 2014

When a massage is not enough

It's a snowy afternoon in Andermatt, Switzerland, and I'm mentally and physically exhausted from a day on the slopes - including a stressful chairlift ride escorting three small Swiss children, who excitedly swung their legs and chatted to each other in German while I calculated exactly what to do if they slouched too far down and started to slide off the seat.

Location: Switzerland;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The latest spa treatment? Here's the scoop

Being denied ice cream on a blistering day is quite heartbreaking.I was in Chiang Mai, a city of mist-shrouded mountains in northern Thailand. The day was sweltering (like every other).

Location: Chiang Mai; Thailand;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cover me in caviar

I had fancied myself a bit of a spa snob before entering the Silver Rain, a La Prairie Spa, at the Ritz-Carlton: I have had indulgent massages all over the world (in a Turkish bath in Paris, along the ocean in Costa Rica, and all-too-often at swanky institutions in Toronto).

Location: Grand Cayman;

Subject: hotels; review; silver rain; spas; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wash the winter out of your hair

Canadian winter has a way of turning us into a nation of muffin tops, with carb-bloated waistlines and walking-dead complexions. Unless you're in Banff, March in this country is not a pretty sight. One way to reboot your system and give you enough juice for that final, blustery lap? A spa break in a sun-filled destination. Unlimited vitamin D included.

Subject: list; review; spas; tourism; travel

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

LET A TAHITIAN THERAPIST PLAY FOOTSIE WITH YOUR SPINE

The staff at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa take great pride in nourishing guests; one goes so far as to plait my hair with coconut oil - for strength, she said. Tahitian women, challah-thick braids swinging down broad backs, ooze vitality and strength. This whole island is a hothouse, a botanical bounty flowing down Mount Otemanu so abundantly I feel the island's fertility in my bones.

Location: French Polynesia;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RETREAT / GET YOUR BODY GLOWING IN A MAN-FREE ZONE

Tucked away on a nondescript stretch of King Street East, Toronto's second Body Blitz water spa makes itself known more by smell than sight. A soothing blend of eucalyptus, lime and ginger wafts across the street. Inside, the intensity heightens, as the air is heavy with moisture. It's warm, it's comforting, it's a recipe for relaxation. But sorry, gentlemen, this is for ladies only.

Location: Toronto;

Subject: spas; tourism

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THE RETREAT / DEEP-TISSUE DECADENCE IN THE CARIBBEAN

What better way to buck up in the face of a milestone birthday than toning up at Carlisle Bay, Antigua? The resort, situated between soft sand and a flourishing rain forest, offers a plethora of heart rate-boosting opportunities, including windsurfing, beach circuit training, tennis and hiking. Best of all, the Blue Spa caps it off with a treatments designed to pamper sporty types: fortifying deep tissue sessions, physiotherapy and hot-stone work.

Location: Antiqua; Caribbean;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RETREAT / SECRET TO THIS SICILIAN MASSAGE? EVOO

Villa Sant'Andrea is a case study in the classic Sicilian attitude toward style and food. Set upon its own exclusive beach on the coast of Taormina Mare, this jewel has been impeccably restored by Orient-Express, with finishing touches completed just this year. Originally built by a noble family in 1830, it still retains all the patrician charm of a former private residence.

Location: Sicily;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

THE RETREAT

There are two big reasons to book at Yorkville's Glow Medi Spa: 1) the Dr. Babor Collagen Booster Facial - it's like event dressing, but for your face; and, 2) that delicious feeling you get when someone asks what foundation you're wearing and you can say, ''I'm not wearing any!'' Those plagued by dark circles will know how liberating it is to ditch the concealer. And the facial's cooling creams lull you deep into a state of bliss.

Location: Toronto;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, August 30, 2012

THE RETREAT / A SHOT OF SILVER BRIGHTENS THIS FACIAL RITUAL

THE TREATMENTI've been meaning to tuck into the spa delights of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas since it opened to the tunes of Jay-Z and Chris Martin at a private party on New Year's Eve. Apparently, the Sahra Spa and Hammam was a big hit with Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, who checked in after a Moet-fuelled marathon of merry-making.

Location: Las Vegas;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, August 16, 2012

THE RETREAT / A HOLIDAY FOR YOUR BUTTOCKS AND LEGS

The TreatmentWhen a resort decides to call itself Body Holiday, you know you'll be pampered silly. The name pretty much gives you the full picture: The resort is based on four key concepts - relaxation, restorative beauty, great workouts and healthy cuisine.

Location: Caribbean; St. Lucia;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Not your average fat farm

My English version of the Spanish newspaper El Pais keeps flapping in the warm morning wind, making it difficult for me to read about the country's dire economic situation. I manage to glimpse that the Catalonia region is saddled with a debt of €42-billion before I get distracted by the women at the next table.

Location: Albir; Spain;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, August 2, 2012

THE RETREAT / ROCKSTAR RUBDOWN

The Treatment

Location: French West Indies; Saint Barthélemy;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE RETREAT / PUT SOME SWEAT EQUITY INTO YOUR NEXT SPA ADVENTURE

THE TREATMENTAs spa trends broaden to new anthropological heights, wherein destination spas weave cultural traditions into wellness experiences, I've been gaining more local lore with my lomi lomi. The Four Seasons Resort Sayan in the heart of Bali's Ubud jungle, ever the trendsetter, is putting some sweat equity in your next spa venture with its ''A Day in the Life of a Balinese Farmer'' rice paddy experience. My boyfriend Tom and I meet our guide, Sari, and begin with a trek through the Ayung Valley, a verdant oasis experienced so far only from the terrace of our villa. I clutch Sari's hand as we negotiate the teetering ledges of rice terraces until we break for a best of Balinese breakfast feast.

Location: Bali; Indonesia;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, July 5, 2012

THE RETREAT / WORKING OUT THE KINKS IN LAS VEGAS

THE TREATMENTMy masseuse seems almost giddy over how knotted up my shoulders are. ''Girl, for the love of standing upright, you gotta throw that MacBook out the window,'' she insists. Easy for her to say. Julie Basile-Farris is the guru of Qua Spa's Signature Meditative Shiatsu. She begins by expertly connecting her fingertips to my acupoints, just under the skin along the meridians, to unblock circulation. Performing the Japanese technique through Qua's luxurious bed linens, she applies sustained pressure using her thumbs, though at one point climbs on top of my back and nests her knees into my backside in the agony-turned-estacy climax of the session. She concludes with cranial-sacral therapy along my neck, shoulders and scalp - a holistic healing practice that uses a precise, light touch - her gentle methodology melting away built up neuromuscular restrictions of the spine and sacrum.

Location: Las Vegas;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE RETREAT / PREPARE TO WEAR YOUR SHORT SHORTS

The TreatmentThe new Quartz Crystal Spa at Trump International Hotel Toronto is one of the tower's top assets. We know what The Donald would say about the spa biz: It all comes down to survival of the prettiest. The spa channels classic Hollywood glamour - think chrome, crystal, black faux leather and white marble - and caters to clients who put serious stock in their appearance. For leggy types who live to rock this summer's micro-shorts trend, the spa's Adriatic Contour Treatment may help cinch the look.

Location: Toronto;

Subject: hotels; review; spas

Thursday, June 7, 2012

THE RETREAT / ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY, JAMAICAN-STYLE

The treatment

Location: Jamaica; Montego Bay;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

THE RETREAT / A SLEEPOVER SPA

The retreat

Location: Fiji;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, May 3, 2012

THE RETREAT / WRAP YOURSELF IN A HERBAL ELIXIR

The treatmentWith colonial cottages perched on windswept shores, and intimate tea parlours filled with patois and pastries, Nisbet Plantation Nevis delivers the fantasy of a laid-back leisure colony by the sea. The resort scored a spot on Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious Gold List 2012, as well as a ranking among the magazine's top choices in the Caribbean for its new full-service spa.

Location: Caribbean; Nevis;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, April 19, 2012

THE RETREAT / BEACH PREP IN ST. BARTS

THE TREATMENTKeeping the jet set moisturized isn't an easy business. On the circuit of decadent destinations in which to show off scantily clad, perfect skin, St. Barts is the ultimate arena. And the spa at Hotel Carl Gustaf is the perfect prep station.

Location: French West Indies; Saint Barthélemy;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, April 5, 2012

THE RETREAT / A SEA EXTRACT MASSAGE IN THE MAMANUCA ISLANDS

The treatmentVomo Island, just a 15-minute helicopter ride from Fiji's Nadi Airport, is an idyllic, 91-hectare privately owned isle in the Mamanuca Islands. Majestic Mount Vomo rises at one end, offering expansive views of the Pacific in all directions. With raw beauty at every turn, I may have just found the most perfect retreat in the South Pacific.

Location: Fiji Islands; Mamanuca Islands; Vomo Island;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, March 22, 2012

THE RETREAT / A DELICIOUSLY DRAWN-OUT MASSAGE

The treatment

Location: Indonesia;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, March 8, 2012

THE RETREAT / A TAMMY FENDER FACIAL

The treatmentRich and creamy meets wholesome and dreamy. Ryan Gosling on a spoon? Almost. There's good news for natural skin-care junkies in Toronto. You no longer have to hit West Palm Beach or be on Gwyneth Paltrow's holiday gift list to hook up with a Tammy Fender facial (the fair blonde's a big fan). Like all high-quality small-batch things, 889 Wellness's skin-care treatments are in hot demand. Unlike other status facials that rely on resurfacing your face, Fender's orchestration of chemistry, botany and aromatherapy yields an all-natural, handmade holistic facial that feeds skin on a deeper level. Last week, I poached myself a pleasurable pink with my overzealous St. Bart's surfing hubris and needed to calm my cheeks.

Location: Toronto;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, February 23, 2012

THE RETREAT / AN AYURVEDIC ESCAPE IN BALI

The retreatComo Shambhala Estate suits me at first sight. Set on a vast plot in the jungles of Bali's cultural capital of Ubud, this is a sacred place to take a breather and do some inner accounting.

Location: Bali; Indonesia;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, February 9, 2012

THE RETREAT / A SOOTHING SCOTTISH SEAWEED SOAK

THE RETREATI'm smitten with Blythswood Square's spa menu at first sight. Signature Turus treatments with ''indigenous Scottish ingredients''? Sign me up. I suddenly see my skin buffed to a Tilda Swinton shine with a highland heather scrub. Better yet, I'm soaking in Glenlivet next to Ewan McGregor. Maybe there'll be shortbread involved. After a wee tutorial with spirited spa staff, I learn that Turus means ''journey'' in Gaelic and that the most clucked-about treatment here is the Turus Seaweed Bath.

Location: Glasgow; Great Britain; Scotland;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Relax, you're just naked

I'd signed up for a mud wrap, but this was no ordinary mud. It was magic mud from the bowels of the underground hot springs of Rio Caliente (Hot River) just outside Guadalajara, Mexico. It boasted all kinds of miraculous things - toxin removal, skin exfoliation, nutrient replenishment, and so on.

Location: Guadalajara; Mexico;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, January 26, 2012

THE RETREAT / FORGET WINTER, GET A FACIAL IN BARBADOS

The Retreat

Location: Barbados; St. Philip;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, January 12, 2012

THE RETREAT / THE VANILLA PANDAN CHILL OUT AT AMANUSA

The Treatment

Location: Bali;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE RETREAT / A RUM RUBDOWN ON NEVIS

The TreatmentThe best fly-and-flop destination of the Caribbean is back. This week, the ''let's spend Christmas in SPF 60'' set were abuzz over delicious upgrades to the relaunched Four Seasons Resort Nevis, closed for two years following hurricane Omar. Guests raved over the new chef, Andreas Donnerbauer, who will scuba with certified guests to pluck spiny lobsters from the sea - then trade his wetsuit for chef's whites to grill up the spoils in an offering called Dive and Dine. Of course, for those enviable enough to be spending the holiday season here, the spa's signature Rum Tonic treatment won the most literal oohs and aahs. Because when a spa fuses classic island ingredients with warm hydrotherapy, subzero Canadian hearts - more accustomed to being wrapped in Roots than rubbed down with Caribbean sugar - are bound to melt.

Location: Charlestown; Pinney's Beach; Saint Kitts and Nevis;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Start on the slopes, then slip into a swimsuit

Montreal skiers tend to be either ardent Laurentian-lovers or Townshippers, depending on their preference for hills north or south of the city. But I live in the heart of the village-and-gourmet-bistro-dotted Eastern Townships about 70 minutes from Montreal, so I'm biased. I can choose between four nearby downhill resorts, each with at least one spa in the vicinity. It's fair to say I've become something of a ski/spa expert on the region. Soothe the windburn at these ski and spa locations; they're the best in the region.

Location: Eastern Townships; Mont Sutton; Quebec;

Subject: skiing; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE RETREAT / A COUPLES TREATMENT SO GOOD YOU'LL FORGET YOUR PARTNER IS THERE

THE TREATMENTWater retention is never amusing, and even less so when you're due for a romantic meet-up in Bali. Before his arrival, I'd been indulging in babi guling (Bali's famed suckling pig), and upon arrival we both tucked into the blond ales. Between us, we were facing a serious case of bloat, and were hardly primed for our From Here to Eternity close-up. It was time for Alila Villas Soori's signature couples treatment Beauty and Balance, a coffee-driven ritual that flushes excess fluid and smooths pork-fuelled cheek dimples.

Location: Bali;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, December 1, 2011

THE RETREAT / SACHETS STROKE AWAY THE STRESS IN BARBADOS

The treatment

Location: Barbados;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE RETREAT / FIND SERENITY IN A SEA CORAL AND COCONUT MASSAGE

The treatmentJumby Bay feels like that summer house you never want to give up to autumn, where every day unfolds like fresh cotton pyjamas tumbling out of the dryer - warm, comforting, a perfect fit. Three kilometres off the coast of Antigua and reached only by ferry, the destination is a car-free utopia. Guests frolic on shores once set upon by Christopher Columbus, bequeathed by royalty, possessed by smugglers and, in 1915, owned by a pipe-smoking eccentric known for routinely hitching up her skirt, wading into the surf and scooping up lobsters in the gin-clear waters.

Location: Antigua and Barbuda; Jumby Bay Island;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, November 3, 2011

THE RETREAT / A MASSAGE THAT MOVES WITH YOU

With more strategically placed cabanas than any other seaside retreat I've visited in Bali, Amankila is a horizontally inclined hotel lover's dream. With just 34 villas perched on a cliff overlooking Lombok Strait, it's rare to see other guests on my ''nap-hopping'' rounds through this low-density haven.

Location: Bali; Indonesia;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, October 20, 2011

THE RETREAT / AN ENERGY BOOST IN BATH

Location: Bathurst; Chippenham; Great Britain;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THE RETREAT / PAMPERED LIKE A MAHARAJA

What if Gatsby had gotten the chance to spoil Daisy to within an inch of her life in exile in Rajasthan? Surely he would have chosen Jiva Spa - today one of the world's top hotel spa brands - at TAJ's Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.

Location: India; Jodhpur; Rajasthan;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, September 22, 2011

THE RETREAT / A FIVE-STAR FACIAL THAT'S A HIT WITH THE RED-CARPET CROWD

On check-in to Yorkville's five-star Hazelton Hotel, my face has more in common with cheap, smudgy newsprint than the glossy complexions touted on spa brochures. Enter the hotel spa's much-buzzed Valmont Intensive Lift Treatment Facial. Helena Rosenberg, a lead aesthetician here, leads me through to a suite showcasing muted bronze and pewter, sensual textures of green granite and mother-of-pearl. After cleansing and toning, she expertly applies a purifying pack mask with its kaolin clay, pink algae extract and burdock extract to soothe my sooty pores. Then, she literally rolls out the facial's star product, a cool 100-per-cent collagen sheet mask, over forehead, cheeks and chin. As it sets, she treats me to a delicious scalp and hand massage while the mask works its mojo. Happy results? I'm tossing out my ''baggy eye'' concealer for at least a month.

Location: Toronto;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Thursday, September 8, 2011

THE RETREAT / BODY WORK IN A YURT

What does a supermodel bound for the marital aisle do in her final hours of freedom? If her name is Kate Moss, she makes a run for Britain's Isle of Wight. Ms. Moss held her hen party here, famously crossing over on the Red Funnel Ferry with three pink stretch Hummers carrying 30 women including Jade Jagger, Sadie Frost, Samantha Morton and Daphne Guinness - a far cry from the staid and stoic solitude Lord Tennyson and Virginia Woolf once sought on this peaceful isle.

Location: Great Britain; Isle of Wight;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, August 22, 2011

THE RETREAT / A THAI MASSAGE AS YOU OVERLOOK LOTUS-FRINGED LAGOONS

Location: Thailand;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, August 15, 2011

THE RETREAT / TAKING THE NEW BOYFRIEND FOR A COUPLES' MASSAGE

Nestled in Dogmersfield Park an hour outside London, the Four Seasons Hampshire is South England's best spa break for couples. This hotel was made for grand displays of affection, but it's a ''let's take up falconry this weekend'' romance, not the rose-strewn bubble-bath cliche. Granted, I'm wary of mixing my moan-making pleasure (spa-going) with the new boyfriend.

Location: Great Britain; London;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, August 8, 2011

THE RETREAT / SOOTHE AWAY SIN CITY'S EXCESSES

Location: Las Vegas;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, August 1, 2011

THE RETREAT / THE ROYAL TREATMENT WITH A KINK WHISPERER

The treatment

Location: Edinburgh;

Subject: hotels; review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, July 25, 2011

THE RETREAT / UNWIND IN A PROPER BRITISH MANOR

The TreatmentThe romanticization of alabaster skin the likes of Kate Winslet has given rise to a multimillion dollar ''depigmentation'' market, with products designed to strip away natural olive tones (read: ethnic). Bowood Spa buries the cultural tyranny of the English Rose complexion in the cosmetics market with its Sundari facials. While some banned skin bleaching products contain mercury, arsenic and other unpronounceable compounds found in film developer, Bowood's Rooibos Tea and Honey Enzyme Brightening Facial isn't about making you look like ''white;'' it brightens natural tones from within.

Location: Great Britain; Wiltshire;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, July 18, 2011

THE RETREAT / THE POWER OF FLOWERS

The TreatmentUntil my visit to Phoenix's Joya Spa with resident organic alchemist Katie Hess, I didn't put much stock in ''happy elixirs.'' Certainly not enough to merit a 60-minute spa session. Joya quickly established itself as one of Scottsdale's top spas in America's most competitive ''feel good'' zip code due to its fluid definition of what constitutes a spa treatment. To initiate my flower-essences consultation, Ms. Hess shows me pretty horticultural pictorials - the ice breaker - before going into the therapeutic bit - asking me to characterize my past relationship with fear and mood swings.

Location: Arizona; Scottsdale;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, July 11, 2011

THE RETREAT / A SALVE FOR SUN-STROKED SKIN

The TreatmentBritish explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs once said that if you actually look like your passport photo, you aren't well enough to travel. After a 12-hour Songkran Festival party, I'd be lucky to even resemble my jaundiced ID picture. Good thing I saved the best for last on my Thailand itinerary, checking into the Banyan Tree Bangkok for one final spa weekend. When it comes to menus that read like sweeping romance novels, no hotel spa has perfected over-the-top pampering like the Banyan Tree. Most treatments take two to three hours and feature four distinct phases: an inciting force, rising action, climax and resolution.

Location: Bangkok; Thailand;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, July 4, 2011

THE RETREAT / BLACK SAND MASSAGE IN BATH

The Treatment

Location: Bath; Great Britain;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

Monday, June 27, 2011

THE RETREAT / COLOUR THERAPY IN GREEN LUXURY

The TreatmentVisitors to Hermitage Bay Antigua are drawn to the rustic purity and holistic approach of the hotel's wellness program. Artfully fusing the serene and sensuous, the spa's colour rituals correspond with the chakra system of the body. I opt for the Yellow Solar Plexus Chakra Ritual, which - in the words of the menu - ''inspires self-confidence, encourages concentration and relieves mental fatigue.'' A tall order for a tall-latte addict.

Location: Antigua and Barbuda;

Subject: hotels; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, June 20, 2011

THE RETREAT / SUBLIME BOTANICAL SPA TREATS

The Treatment

Location: Australia; Byron Bay;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Monday, June 13, 2011

THE RETREAT / LIGHT UP YOUR FACE

The TreatmentLet's begin by stating my bias: I'm wary of any spa trend where the service provider must strap on safety goggles. That I'm even tempted to try an Intense Pulsed Light Photo Rejuvenation Facial validates how incredible my previously haggard, mother-of-three colleague looks after her experience. Ageless A-Listers were the original proponents of these high-tech facials that are now more mainstream and accessible than ever.

Location: Florida; Pensacola;

Subject: review; spas; tourism; travel

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A restaurant critic rejuvenates in Mexico

I'm boarding the flight to San Diego. The woman behind me admires my (cleverly, if I say so myself) layered T-shirts. I respond with a brief sales pitch for layering. She (who is well upholstered) says that she already has too many layers to add more clothing. She then offers that her daughter is getting married in a year and she (the woman in line with me, not the daughter) is off to a ''very exclusive'' spa to ''jump-start'' her new body for the wedding.

Location: Mexico;

Subject: spas; tourism; travel

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