advertisement

 

 


Were living in a spa-obsessed time, as even moderately priced, three-star hotels are making major changes to their facilities, with upgraded fitness, spa, and all-around wellness offerings. Spas such as the groundbreaking, well-rated Canyon Ranch are getting into the business of partnering with established hotels and resorts, creating SpaClub outposts at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee Florida and most recently, aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Speaking of the QE2, its become increasingly possible to receive top of the line spa treatments if youre a cruise enthusiast, too, or interested in something more than a passive relaxation that involves multiple trips to the buffet. Cruise lines are offering everything from race car driving (Crystal) to whitewater rafting excursions (Cunards QE2), to coral reef diving in Honduras (MSC Cruises), as programming on board ships offers more invigorating options. In the past week or so, Royal Caribbean has been airing commercials for its ship Freedom of the Sea, with a tidal pool -- a.k.a. the FlowRider -- the first "surf park" at sea. There seems to be no shortage of opportunities for self-improvement, whether thats the latest Moor mud treatment or surfing at sea.

According to Spa Finder (www.spafinder.com), a leading resource for travelers and the spa resort community (it represents one third of the spas in the United States), spas are a $40 billion global industry and the fourth-largest leisure industry in the United States, taking in more revenue than ski resorts, amusement parks and box office receipts. Between 1994 and 2004, the number of spas in this country has quadrupled, and the number of locations is growing at an average rate of 20 percent per year. But the number of hotel/resort spas has tripled in the last five years, representing the fastest area of growth.

You can start your worldwide search for spas from Spa Finder if you like and choose from best buys, group specials and day spa deals. Right now, a featured special is at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix (tel. 866/585-8313; www.royalpalmsresortandspa.com), for Pasione, "the Passion of Love" special offer. Save up to 20 percent off spa treatments and ten percent off the package. Youll receive two nights in a casita, couples champagne massage, a tasting menu with wine pairings, chocolate-covered strawberries. Its priced at $1,318 for stays through May 31. The discount for spas is good for Sunday-Thursday stays. Contact the resort directly to reserve and mention its a Spa Finder "Best Buy" when booking.

Also available through Spa Finders search is a special at The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado (tel. 800/225-0934; www.pagosahotsprings.com) good until May 20 for a savings of $30 per night. The regular room price is $129, but after discount its $99 for standard rooms Sunday-Thursday. The resort, located along the banks of the San Juan River, has 18 soaking pools with therapeutic waters dense with minerals. Once you get out of the water, you can also fishing, hiking, or shopping. Getaway spa packages are available as well and require a two-night minimum stay. Packages include two nights lodging, one-hour spa treatments (choose from a facial or massage), manicure, pedicure, mineral soaps, unlimited access to the pools, and a gift certificate to their onsite restaurant. Standard rooms are priced from $253 per person for double occupancy and $290 per person for a deluxe room. Prices dont include taxes and the deal is not available on Saturday nights; its also booked based on spa availability, as you might imagine. Be sure to mention upon booking that its a Spa Finder "Best Buy."

Tradescotours (tel. 800/448-5092; www.tradescotours.com) is offering a few spa retreats in central and eastern Europe, including a special that gives you the third week free if you book two weeks at several spas in Budapest, Hungary. The special for the Grand Hotel Margitsziget, which was built in 1873, is priced from $1,799 per person, including round-trip airfare from New York to Budapest, 21 nights accommodations with half board (buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner), airport transfers, and taxes and service charge (exclusive of airport tax). In terms of the spa, youll receive an examination by a physician, five treatments per week, the use of thermal bath, swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, steam room, etc. There is a similar deal for the Thermal Hotel Margitsziget, with similar inclusions, priced from $1,947 per person. Both hotels are located in Budapests small Margaret Island and therapies are based on three of the thermal springs at their disposal. The hotels are connected with an underground heated corridor.

Baltic Travel Company (tel. 0870/753-7747; www.baltictravelcompany.com) offers getaways to the Baltic States from the United Kingdom, so if youre traveling from the U.S., you have several options. Their spa packages include direct flights from the U.K., airport transfers to your destination, accommodations in a double or twin room, two spa treatments, breakfast, and all taxes. There are packages available in Latvia at the coastal resort Jurmala, at the Baltic Beach Spa Hotel or Hotel Jurmala Spa, priced from £335 per person. The town is about fifteen minutes from the capital city, Riga. You can choose from two to five nights. Prices at Baltic Beach Hotel start at £345 for two nights and £475 for five nights until June 15; after that, prices go up to £365. Hotel Jurmala Spa is priced from £335 for two nights, through June 21 and £365 for two nights from June 22-August 12. Possible treatments include a 90-minute hot stone massage or a 90-minute aromatherapy massage, or a lymphatic press or anti-cellulite massage. Prices are based on direct flights from London-Heathrow.

The company also offers packages to Estonia, to the island of Saaremaa at the Georg Ots Spa Hotel, from £395 all year long for two weekday nights (Sunday-Thursday) and from £420 for two weekend nights. Direct flights are available from London or Manchester to Tallinn, and breakfast, two complementary treatments (including their chocolate massage), all taxes, airport transfers, accommodations and use of fitness center are included.

Finally, in a move that illustrates that spas are showing up at seemingly the most unlikely places, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center (tel. 866/972-6779; www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylordopryland) in Nashville renovated its spa and wellness center. It has an indoor pool, a 40-person outdoor Jacuzzi, full-service salon, fitness center, and a spa, Relache, with a variety of a la carte treatments including facials, body wraps, and massages, and yoga classes, personal trainers on site. Opryland has a number of packages including the "Night at the Opry" which even offers a few options. For a one-night package, expect to pay $87-$126 per person, the bare-bones choice that gives you accommodations and tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. The package is available Friday and Saturday nights year round and Tuesday nights through December 19.

While youre here, check out the spa and schedule a service, or choose the "Relax at Relache Spa Getaway" available throughout the year. You can choose from one night, with one spa treatment and $25 boutique credit ($223-$280), two nights with two treatments and $50 credit ($425-$538) or three nights with three treatments and $75 credit, priced $627-$796. The hotel is only accepting reservations for packages over the phone, so be sure to call the toll-free number weve listed here.