Category: Hotels

Six Senses Spa – Paris

A zen oasis hiding in plain sight is what I would call the Six Senses Spa at the Westin Paris, Vendôme hotel. I was searching for a massage in Paris when I remembered the discreet entrance on the corner of rue de Castiglione, which stretches between the Tuileries Gardens and the Place Vendôme, and rue du Mont Thabor, home of my favorite Japanese restaurant in Paris and so many other good things! Upon entering the spa, the landscaped “vertical garden” wall sets the tone. Organic, hushed, warm, and welcoming. Great staff! From reception to the very capable therapists. Zero attitude. Each guest is tended to in an authentically kind way — such good energy. As you know, I love design and I can only describe the treatment rooms at minimalist, wooden pods that feel like cocoons. All the hustle from city outside is sealed off. True relaxation. A special experience is reserved for the post-treatment lounge area. While sipping quite possibly some of the BEST ginger tea, there is a beautiful movie of Place de la Concorde and its iconic “Roule” (ferris wheel) projected onto the wall. No sound. Just images. It might sound like an odd juxtaposition, but it works! Oh, and the massage? Heaven.

Six Senses Spa – Westin Paris, Vendôme

Half Moon – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Jamaica. It’s my favorite island for so many reasons. I’m part Jamaican and it feels nice to come “‘home.” BUT, every time I go, it’s always about the people. Their warmth, kindness, killer sense of humor, and, yes, a little bit of attitude to keep it real. This trip was no different. Put that with beautiful weather, lush surroundings, good food, and some ‘essential-listening’ reggae? Done. This year I tried a different place. I had heard of Half Moon many times and all reports were great. Scratch that. Pretty fantastic, actually. Somehow I never made it. I always go through that mental back and forth of “easy resort. Ahhh.” vs. “shouldn’t we be doing something more rustic and authentic?” Then I factor in traveling with my husband (“beach is non-negotiable”), daughter (“activites!”) and this year my mom (“just put me somewhere warm and I’m happy”), and I figured let’s go easy and not stress. We all loved it.

The property is literally 10 minutes from the airport, but when you enter, it’s a different, hushed, beautiful world. I love a good entry — you need to set the right visual tone immediately — and the lobby’s sweeping, open-air views of the ocean are wonderful. I would call the decor “modern colonial.” Elegant wood furniture with soothing tropical (not crazy primary colors) patterns. Tasteful. Chic. Before I move on, I would say the one cloud over our experience was the reception staff’s handling of our check-in. The issue could have been handled better — and without us even knowing. Execution and consistency are so important in hospitality. Okay, moving on to the good! There are many different accommodations to choose from. Beach front cottages, single rooms, suites, split-level cottages, and private villas that are located further in on the property. (While biking, I craned my neck more than once to get a glimpse of the villas, which look amazing.) We chose a garden villa suite. Well, actually it was chosen for us as we made a late reservation and that’s what they had left for the Christmas week. When I say ‘late’ I mean August! It all worked out though. We were steps away from the beach, palm trees, and fresh coconut water every day. There are three pools, and two main beaches. I preferred the one further away from the main building as it was like a private beach with a great snack bar/bbq.

There are dedicated programs and facilities for tennis, horseback-riding, and a renown golf course. We tend to be slackers in this department, but I’m happy these amenities are here. Future aspirations? Maybe! Their yoga pavilion is wonderful. Actually, there are two. One at the Fern Tree Spa (great!), and one on the beach. Literally on stilts over the ocean. Special. I had, ‘Gabi,’ a german transplant as my teacher and she was a perfect mixture of no-nonsense/soulful/warm/fun. Very much like Jamaica itself.

 

Half Moon

Hotel Okura – Amsterdam

okura_amsterdam

Recently, I was in Amsterdam to celebrate a friend’s birthday and stayed at the Okura. Although I haven’t been in a long time, I’m a big fan of Amsterdam. Great people, amazing art, the coolest bike culture — it’s hard not to have a great time. (Well, there is the horizontal rain from time to time, but still…) I also love Japanese culture, so the Okura worked out perfectly for me. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the Okura is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. If you’re looking for “boutique,” this is not for you. However, although it is a large hotel, the public spaces typically have an amazing zen-like calmness. Three things stand out from my weekend: the gorgeous indoor pool, the ease of getting into central Amsterdam, and THE FOOD. I was with my family and we still talk about the incredible Teppanyaki experience we had at Sazanka. Dishes are prepared on a hot iron griddle right in front of you by chefs who are so serene … yet dazzle! This is not a gimmicky, showy affair. The chefs are just perfect. The food is delicious. Period. The Okura (no stranger to having Michelin-starred restaurants) has three other acclaimed restaurants here as well.

After seeing amazing art at The Rijks Museum (I could have looked at Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” for hours…my husband and daughter had other ideas) and walking around the city center (and, yes, dodging some dedicated cyclists), the rain started and we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed the beautiful pool and its atrium-like setting. A great place to swim (my daughter) or just relax (hello!) on a chaise and sip something delicious. Beautiful spa and gym as well.

NB: Breakfast is fantastic! Served in the restaurant Le Camelia. Beautiful classic buffet, plus traditional Japanese. Staff is wonderful. Such a happy way to start the day.

Hotel Okura Amsterdam

 

The Laslett – Great Boutique Hotel in London

laslett_room

Entering The Laslett is like walking into someone’s cool London townhouse. Black and white tiled floors, gorgeous art and photography books galore. Design touches like Prouvé chairs, velvet banquettes, etc., make you feel like you’re exactly where you need to be. There’s a brightness to the whole place. On the ground floor, three separate sitting/dining/tea/daydreaming areas allow you to soak up the atmosphere and art. I stayed in a Master Bedroom Suite, which was perfect for the three of us. I also saw a deluxe room — perfect for solo travelers or couples. As a bathroom lover, the tubs, sinks, and fittings brought to mind a classic English bathroom made for long, decadent baths. Yes, please! Food was great and I loved that there were cold-pressed juices and several gluten-free options available. It felt good to be here. Zero chaos. AND you’ve got Notting Hill right out your door. Sad to leave! I’ll be back.

The Laslett

 

Weekend Warrior at Red Mountain Resort

 

red-mountain-resort

Time off for self-discovery helps us reset. A week, weekend, day or even half-day works. We get to step out of our daily normal. Explore. Re-think some of our habits. Connect with some amazing people. Probably all of the above. Red Mountain is one of the most comprehensive destination spas out there. Here’s a great weekend package.

Weekend Warrior – Red Mountain Spa Resort, St. Ivins, Utah, Multiple weekend dates in October and November

If you don’t have time for a weeklong getaway, a weekend immersion could be just the thing to help you get back on track. This one includes gorgeous, breath-taking hikes in red rock country; unlimited movement classes (yoga, pilates, etc.); spa treatments and, for the brave ones, some boot-camp classes. Private one-on-one training sessions are also included to figure out a perfect plan for you.

Weekend Warrior

Can’t get away? Maybe a workshop from YogaJournal.com:

Yoga for Stress & Anxiety, Online 6-Week Course at YogaJournal, Oct.17th

This is a new offering from YogaJournal. We all know yoga makes us feel terrific. If we can’t make it to the studio, sometimes a virtual guide can work wonders. Stress might be a part of life, but we don’t have to be defined by it. Learn strategies for coping and thriving in this course.

Yoga For Stress Relief

 

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