Category: Hotels

Son Brull Boutique Hotel & Spa, Mallorca Spain

 

Located at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains in the northern part of Mallorca, Spain, sits Son Brull Boutique Hotel & Spa. Where to begin? Let’s start with the stunning, massive glass entry door. Now that is an entrance! The intimate lobby is more understated chic living room/library.

Located in a former eighteenth century Jesuit monastery, the owners dedication to preserving a sense of authenticity is clear. Son Brull is design-driven but heritage and tradition are clearly important. The original (and massive) stone machinery used in the olive oil making process fits seamlessly within the bar/restaurant area, which leads out to the pool area. There are actually two pools — one indoor and one outdoor — a huge plus in chillier months. (The hotel is closed for three months: December though February.)

Swimming pool at Son Brull, Mallorca

And, then there’s the spa. Again, that sense of intimacy. Cozy treatment rooms with charming therapists. Wonderful sauna and steam room as well. What makes Son Brull special is that you feel like you are at someone’s fantastic villa off in the hills. Well, someone who also has a Michelin-starred restaurant — along with an organic garden! Standout memories for me: fresh oranges from the property’s grove, lingering in the sauna (with fresh lemon water after), one of the best roasted vegetable dishes ever, relaxing in my large, bright (Mallorca has 300 days of sunshine on average per year), airy room. So well-appointed with design details that mixed modern (stunning concrete floors) with warm woods and textiles. Think luxe rustic. I can still smell that orange…

Son Brull Boutique Hotel & Spa

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 some of the BEST ginger tea, there is a beautiful movie of Place de la Concorde and its iconic “La Grande Roue” (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

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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

 

Body School By Yamuna – St. Lucia April 26-May 1, 2017

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Yamuna

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The Body Holiday, St. Lucia

Here’s one to put on your calendar. Yamuna Zake is leading her first Body School at The Body Holiday in St. Lucia. If you haven’t heard of Yamuna, this is a good day. She created a program for movement that focuses on proper alignment. Her goal is to teach her students body sustainability. I have taken her classes. They will change your body and your relationship to your body. You start by focusing on your feet with a special ball called a “foot saver,” and soon realize how much we all neglect two of the most important things we rely on every single day. I’ve met women in their seventies who were able to avoid hip, knee, and back surgery by practicing the various methods she teaches in her classes. It works! The basic method involves small, medium and large balls that you use to target different areas of your body. (Have a look at the photo above.) This falls under the genre of methods of movement that engage your deep faschia, the connective tissue that attaches different muscles and organs. When you engage faschia, you release trapped physical and, many believe, emotional energy. The result? You can expand and lengthen rather than contract.

And what better place to expand than in stunning St. Lucia with none other than Yamuna teaching you how herself? Dates are April 26th – May 1st, 2017.

http://www.yamunausa.com/pages/st-lucia

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