Posts Tagged ‘Spa’

Splurge and save at the Inn by the Sea

May 8, 2010

Through May 26, write a $35 check to Habitat for Humanity, and save 50 percent, Sundays through Thursdays, on a two-bedroom beach, cottage, or loft cottage at the chic, ultra-green, four-diamond, oceanfront Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. With the donation, rates range $134.50-$169.50. While you won’t see the special advertised on the site, the rate pops up when you click on reservations and enter potential dates for an overnight or two.

Act quickly, and apply your savings toward the Chef Tasting Menu, served through May 15, in the inn’s ocean-view Sea Glass Restaurant. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich prepared this six-course New England with a Twist dinner at the James Beard House in New York in February 2010. The price is  $75 per person, or $110 with wine flight, and includes:

amuse bouche
• lobster and seafood ceviche
• roasted beet carpaccio
• pan-seared jumbo scallops
• Atlantic cod and lobster “chowder”
• red wine braised beef cheeks
• local apple crostata

Alternatively, you might splurge at the inn’s spa. Or just reap the savings and enjoy beach strolls, walking through inn’s certified butterfly and bird plantings, or simply plunking down in a lawn chair and enjoying the serenity of listening to waves rolling into shore and birds singing. A boardwalk above a marsh and path through the dunes connects the inn to Crescent Beach; really, it’s quite idyllic.

And here’s a tip: If you stay overnight, order the crab cakes Benedict for breakfast, then keep in the seafood mode with lunch at the nearby Lobster Shack at Two Lights.

The Stowe Report

January 29, 2009

h5peql39Last weekend, I schmmozed Stowe. It’s been quite a few years since I skied what many consider Vermont’s best. Truth is, the last time I visited I came for a hard-hat tour of the then little more than a hole in a ground Stowe Mountain Lodge, at the base of Spruce Peak. I used to love Spruce because it was off the radar screen for most skiers. My how things have changed.

The Stowe Mountain Lodges sets the standard for luxury lodging in New England and its restaurants, along with the fancy-schmancy food court in the adjoining Spruce Peak base lodge, set a new standard for on-mountain dining. New England has long lagged behind western resorts on both fronts. Stowe Mountain Lodge changes that. For a price.

For those who can afford to shell out $400 and up a night for a room—okay, a damn nice room, make that studio, with kitchenette, fireplace, seating area, and a bathroom alone larger than economy motel rooms—that’s steps from the lifts and has access to some pretty nifty facilities, this is the cat’s meow.

About those nifty facilities: the lodge comprises a full-service spa (see my post on that, here); a Cooper Wellness center, with every new-fangled and trendy piece of fitness equipment possible, along with a full slate of classes, and even a fully equipped Pilates studio (never done that, but it looks like a torture center); a huge outdoor, heated pool with heated deck; luxe shops; an adventure center that will arrange just about anything you want; and then there are the dining facilities.

Stowe Mountain Lodge’s restaurants are big on the farm-to-table movement, with most products served sourced locally. There’s Solstice, a casual fine-dining restaurant, the Hourglass lounge, and a lobby lounge, each with menu, as well as the Schuss take-out cafe. All are within steps of each other, on levels tiering up from the lobby . The spaces are open and soaring, walled with windows, and accented with fireplaces and artwork by Vermont artists and artisans. If you can’t swing staying here, treat yourself to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or simply pop in for some apres ski.

00377-aThe lodge is steps from the Spruce Peak lifts and the gondola connecting to Mt. Mansfield’s lifts. Also here is a new base lodge with a food court that gives new meaning to the concept in New England. Fresh-made soups, salads, sandwiches, grilled items, pastas, even a risotto of the day. I had lunch at the full-servvice restaurant at the gondola summit, but frankly, I’d opt for this next time. Far faster, and a far more intriguing menu (although I must admit the lobster and asparagus risotto was pretty lush, mmmm).

And the skiing? Let’s just say that despite wind-chilled temperatures that were well below zero, I kept at it until the spa called.

Apres-ski bliss

May 22, 2008

Sometimes I’m so spoiled. During my recent ski trip to Whistler, the snow Gods weren’t smiling. Hot temps, melting snow and rain meant little terrain open for spring skiing: even the glaciers were closed due to unstable conditions. So, yes, I skied in the rain, but then I made up for the misery with an apres-ski massage at the Spa at the Four Seasons Whistler (which is actually at the Blackcomb base).

Talk about bliss. It’s a small spa with a few-frills waiting room, but what it lacks in bling it makes up for with service. First I decompressed in the eucalyptus steam room, warming up for  the apres-ski  massage, which combined hot stones, deep massage and a foot mask; a trio that soothed the cricks of travel and skiing.

Soak without getting soaked

March 25, 2008

BANFF, Alberta, Canada–With good reason, the Willow Stream Spa at the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs hotel gets most of the ink when it comes to spa talk (I dished about that one previously), but for anyone seeking a soothing soak in an outdoor mineral pool with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop, the historic Banff Hot Springs lets you soak without getting soaked (ditto for the concessioned spa at the same location).

First a little history: Although long known to native peoples, Banff’s hot spring was “discovered” in 1883 by railway workers building the trans-Canada line. They discovered the lower springs while prospecting on a day off, knew a good thing and filed a claim. A few months later, the upper springs were found. In those times, doctors often recommended visiting a mineral pool, so a big effort was made by the railway to attract tourists. When the government was faced with rival claims, it created the country’s first national park in 1885.

Okay, so much for history. Let me tell you what’s here, now. The current bath house dates from 1932 and is a federal heritage building crafted from rundlestone (from nearby Mt. Rundle) and hand-hewn logs. It houses a small gift shop, a restaurant, locker/changing rooms and an independent spa. Entry fee for the hot springs is $7.30 for adults; $6.30 for ages 3–17 or 65 and older; or $22.50 for a family of four, plus $3.40 for each additional family member. Towel or bathing suit rental is $1.90 (and you can rent a cool-looking, vintage 1920s-styled “heritage” suit). A locker is $1.

Given these prices, don’t expect fancy. The locker room is just that, a place to change. Don’t even plan on taking a leisurely shower afterward–the timed showers are too short to do much other than rinse.

Ahh, but step into the large hot mineral pool, gaze over at the mountains, or close your eyes and dream, and you could be in a frou-frou spa. It’s large enough for a leisurely paddle across. And if you work your way around the edges, you’ll find a few jets. In winter, there’s usually enough snow on the deck to permit a Nordic-spa type roll, if you want to shock your system.

Now here’s a hint: During ski season, go before 2 p.m. to avoid the apres-ski crowds.

Another plus: The hot springs are on a public bus route. About that spa: Pleiades Massage and Spa (1-866-760-2502) is another find for the budget conscious. A half -hour massage, reflexology or Reiki is $55, full hour is $85, 1.5 hours is $115; one-hour facial is $80, one-hour body treatment is $95, one-hour wrapture–aromatic steam, brief massage and wrap–is $80. All kinds of packages are available, too. I didn’t get a chance to indulge, but if I’d had the time, it would have made for a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

In the zone

March 25, 2008

You know how  I raved about Balnea, the Nordic-style spa in the Quebec’s Eastern Townships, well here’s another. The Zonespa, in St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, near Mt. Ste. Anne and about a 20 minute drive east of Quebec City, is a surefire way to relax after a day skiing at either Mt. Ste. Anne or Le Massif.

Although much smaller and less fancy than Balnea, the services are similar. It pampers guests with massages, facials and body treatments, and  it has a steam room, sauna, relaxation room, and hot tubs, but as a Nordic-style spa, it’s built on the therapeutic premise of alternating warm and cold treatments with rest. Again, that’s easy in summer, but in winter, when temperatures are in the single digits and snow is falling, embracing this ritual requires a good dose of fortitude.

It begins comfortably enough with 15-20 minutes of wet or dry heat, perhaps in the Finnish sauna, steam bath or outdoor hot pool or whirlpool. This warms the body and stimulates sweating. That’s followed by a system-shocking, gasp-producing 30- to 60-second cold immersion to increase both heartbeat and blood pressure and close the pores. This is accomplished by an invigorating roll in the snow or with a bracing shower, either indoors or accompanied by a plunge in an outdoor cold-water pool. It’s all worth it for the deep relaxation that occurs during the final stage of the cycle, a 15-minute rest in the solarium, a yurt or by an outdoor fireplace, during which the body returns to its normal rhythms. Then repeat, and repeat again over a three-hour period. Add on a one-hour massage for the ultimate meltdown.

The spa’s Café Tivoli serves pizzas, sandwiches and salads as well as pastries, smoothies and even beer, wine and espressos–just in case the cold isn’t stimulating enough.

Do make reservations. It’s a very popular spa-t (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Spa bliss

March 11, 2008

Balnea. Go. That’s all you need to know (yes, the web site is in French, but an English translation is promised soon). This Nordic spa in Bromont, Quebec, is the ultimate in bliss–calming, spacious, oriented to the outside world and hip. Even if you don’t want to go outside (but hey, the deck is heated!) and soak in the outdoor hot tub then plunge in the outdoor cold pool and shower or, brrr, the stream, you can still experience the Nordic-style alternation of hot and cold, but indoors. Relax by the fire; better yet, in the theater watching a movie of the natural world. Splurge on a massage–trust me, it’ll be one of the best you ever had.

A taste of royalty in the Canadian Rockies

March 11, 2008

Visiting Banff or Lake Louise? The Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, those two storybook hotels, may be out of your budget for lodging, but it’s still possible to play prince or princess for the day.

At the Banff Springs, spend a half day or longer in the Willow Stream Spa. Day access is a whopping $79 (for nonguests, reservations required), so the longer you stay, the better it seems (it’s open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Of course, one dip in the progressive pools or the central mineral pool (be sure to lay your head back in the water—music is piped in), and you’ll think it’s worth every penny. At least I did. Head outside to the whirlpool, and don’t be surprised if a deer strolls by. As another woman said: “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Well, actually, it does, but that requires spending beaucoup bucks for a massage (rates begin at $165 for 60 minutes, plus gratuity and GST) or other service. Instead, add a mini-splurge for breakfast or lunch, perhaps even light dinner, in the spa. In between taking the waters or trips to the steam room or sauna (with a window overlooking the mountains), simply relax in your robe and slippers, munch on complementary fruit and perhaps cookies or muffins, and sip tea for big Ahhhh! factor. Before leaving, shower using the spa’s fancy-schmancy shampoo, conditioner and cleansers, then slather liberally with lotion. Now melt.

At the Chateau Lake Louise, make a reservation for high tea, served daily in the lakefront lounge from noon to 4 p.m. Yes, it’s pricey at $38, but the experience is priceless. Begin with a glass of Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico sparkling wine (or Moet & Chandon, for an additional $10), followed by a fresh fruit cocktail with cointreau syrup, then choose a tea and sit back and nibble your way through a three-tiered silver tray of finger sandwiches (English cucumber and boursin cheese, egg salad, smoked salmon and asparagus with mascarpone spread, curried chickent salad); to-die-for scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam; and a sampling of pasties and sweets. It’s so elegant and so self-indulgent and so satisfying.