3 World-Class Spas to Help You Beat the Winter Blues

[ 0 ] February 23, 2012 |

I love winter. I do. I love the way the sun hits the highest snow-capped peaks at first light. I love snowshoeing the roads around our house with my dog.

But sometimes I just need to trade in all that wintry white for something a shade warmer. Most often, that means escaping to a spa, preferably with a nice resort hotel attached. Recently, I’ve had the good fortune of traveling to a few such places. All made me love winter even more.


The Spa at The Grand del Mar
Del Mar, California

The Spa at The Grand del Mar

Moments after we arrived at the Grand Del Mar, a Mediterranean-style resort just north of San Diego, my husband snagged a surfboard and headed for the beach. Me? I high-tailed it to the spa.

Inspired by Addison Mizner, who designed resorts in Boca Raton and Palm Beach in the 20s, the Grand Del Mar is an architectural wonder, with arched doorways, sweeping rotundas and twisted marble columns set amid lush Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. While the Old World feel is continued within the 21,000-square foot spa, its therapies emphasize of-the-moment concepts of renewal and rebirth. A signature ‘Triad’ treatment called ‘Decompression’ proved irresistible.

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It began with a pleasant organic rosemary scrub. After showering off, I laid in a warm waterbed, of sorts, where I was slathered with goat-milk butter (it smelled delicious, I swear), cocooned in scented sheets and left to steep. A deep body massage worked out any remaining kinks.

Afterwards, I was, as promised, decompressed, but not, as with some treatments, ready to head to bed. Lucky thing. My husband had made a dinner reservation at Addison, the resort’s signature restaurant, where more pampering – this time of the palate – was waiting to be had.


The Spa at Camelback Inn
Scottsdale, Arizona

The Spa at Cambelback Inn

I have to come clean. While I love the desert, I’ve never been a big Scottsdale fan. But a visit to the Spa at Camelback Inn charmed me so, that I’ve put a return trip on my agenda.

Dating back to 1936, Camelback Inn is a throwback to Old Scottsdale. Its Pueblo-style casitas, meticulously renovated, are spread out over 125 acres overlooking Camelback Mountain. At 32,000-square feet, the spa features 32 treatment rooms, a salon, a fitness center, an Olympic-size pool and Sprouts, a delightful restaurant specializing in spa cuisine you actually want to eat (you can get a prickly pear margarita, too).

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My indulgence that day was a combination of hot and cold stone massage work with castor oil (it detoxifies from the outside in as well; who knew?), aromatherapy and reflexology. The end result was promised to be an alignment of body, mind and spirit. For me, the fact that Charity, my aptly named therapist, was able to free my back of nagging little aches for the first time in forever was rewarding enough. Certainly the lapis and amethyst stones that were placed on my Chakras helped.


The Spa at Travaasa Hana
Maui, Hawaii

The Spa at Travaasa Hana

Should you need more motivation to make the 52-mile drive to Hana than the journey itself – around 600 curves and over 54 one-lane bridges on the Hana Highway – it’s the peaceful Spa Travaasa, set within wonderfully remote Travaasa Hana (formerly Hotel Hana-Maui).

Beyond woven bamboo gates and a black lava “water wall,” glass doors opened onto a small reception area. There, I was met by a spa concierge and whisked off to a changing room that opened onto enclosed gardens with outdoor showers and cold plunge pools.

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The spa’s nine treatment rooms are sweet, with small seating areas, wet bars and artwork by local artists. The treatment I enjoyed in one of them was Hawaiian Lomilomi, a sacred healing art tradition handed down through generations by the kupuna, or elders. Using a strong, rhythmic technique, and a touch of kukui nut oil, a therapist kneaded my muscles with her forearms and elbows, attempting to connect heart, body, mind and soul. Before long, I succumbed.

Leaving the spa, the lava rock whirlpool beckoned. I bubbled blithely as the light disappeared over Hana Bay.

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Category: Lifestyle, Travel

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About Linda Hayes: Aspen-based freelancer Linda Hayes writes about culinary travel, architecture/design and the luxury lifestyle for an eclectic group of magazines and websites. She is food editor for Stratos, travel editor for Mountain Living, and a regular [...]
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