We all need to relax. Wouldn’t it be great if the office was a hot tub? On days when I’m so wound up I could snap, I reminisce about luxurious spas that seduce the senses and melt the tension. For all those who could use a spa day, here are DINE’s recommendations for unique destinations to replenish, rejuvenate and breath easy.
Spa Nordik, Chelsea, Quebec
A veritable buffet of baths and saunas, my thermal cycle flows from an Icelandic bath to a Japanese onsen-style bath, and a Eucalyptus Steam bath to a Mongolian Yurt. In the Kalla pool, akin to the Dead Sea, I float, enveloped in warmth, while calming music streams underwater. Weightless, I drift into a deep sleep. When I awake, I wonder what time it is. “Don’t bother asking anyone,” I tell myself, “I don’t think anyone really cares about time.” Here, it’s only about being present. As the day progresses, every muscle in my body unclenches; and the incessant pinging on my phone becomes a distant memory as I stretch into a thermal hammock for a cozy afternoon slumber. Before my day-ending Swedish massage, I venture into a Russian Banya treatment. The air is infused with aromatic oils, and waves of warmth. Salts and essential oils are prepared for exfoliation and then, I lie down for a whipping! Rhythmically flogged with birch veniks, my body is awoken, regenerated and rejuvenated. It looks and sounds worse than it is. It is actually totally invigorating. This unexpected excitement is followed by an Aufguss ritual in which snowballs infused with essential oils are set upon hot rocks, their hot steam wafts through the air, and is propelled by sauna-meisters with towels to direct the heat to blanket our bodies. Unique and addictive, the Nordic Spa is my cure.
Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel, Salta, Argentina
High above and far away from the rest of the world, Lerma Valley, crowned by mountains, is majestic. High altitude wine, nurtured in the unique micro-climate of Salta, is lush and vibrant nectar of the gods. Following a robust, flavour-forward dinner of sweetbreads tempura, llama carpaccio and Argentinean rib eye steak with Andean potatoes, I stroll in my robe through manicured gardens in the crisp, clean air of night toward the hotel spa. Inside, I am welcomed with an elegant glass of sparkling Torrontes, and led toward my own private room in which I slip into a bubbling barrel bath of Cabernet Sauvignon! I feel like a Roman emperor.
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Freestone, California
Located on Sonoma’s Bohemian Highway, The Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is renowned for its Japanese meditation garden, massage pagoda and cedar enzyme bath. Michael Stusser combined his love of Japanese aesthetics, the message of Zen and the feel-good relaxed culture of Northern California to create a transformative experience of immense therapeutic value. Immersed and packed in a mixture of ground-up fragrant evergreen cedar, rice bran and live enzymes that, combined, generate their own metabolic heat, I am profoundly relaxed. Afterwards I sip an infusion of clover, spearmint, yarrow and digestive enzymes and stroll through manicured Japanese gardens toward the calm sound of trickling water. Through the woods I reach a wooden pagoda, inside which my Chinese meridian alignment masseuse awaits me. The aim is to replenish my Chi flow through energy pathways. Nurtured and pampered, I am then treated to a customized blend of essential oils on a series of acupressure points to deepen healing potential and vitality. Bergamot to balance brain hemispheres, Blue Tansy to calm the mind, Mandarin to calm the heart, Helichrysum, Altas Cedarwood and a host of others to release stagnant energy and induce an easy revitalized calm. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do the rest of the day, but please cancel all my appointments; I am too relaxed to care.
Integratron, Landers, California
Deep in the Mojave Desert, within the Sound Bath of Integratron, quartz crystal bowls gently sing. We lie down comfortably and focus on breathing while reverberating sounds and vibrations are gently played to correspond to our chakras for deep relaxation. The wooden dome around us is “based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials…an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.” Totally Pure, hollow, expansive and powerful, the sustained sounds are tranquilizing musical medicine for our souls.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.