501 East Camino Real, Boca Raton, Florida (561-447-3000)
If you’re a spa aficionado traveling with a golf-obsessed mate, a tennis-loving teen, and younger children who prefer to play in the waves, you’re sure to please everyone at this pink Moorish palace, built in the twenties. In addition to an ambitious new spa, there are 30 tennis courts, golf, pools, and a gym.
The Clientele: Families, but the spa is adults-only.
Fitness: Classes range from step to kickboxing.
The Spa: Designed with “Arabian Nights” whimsy, the great hall, courtyard, and terme with nine stone baths look like they’ve been there for centuries. The terme is used for the spa’s ritual bath, where you steep in salts while being fed grapefruit sorbet. In the instantly relaxing spirulina wrap, you’re covered in seaweed paste, then wrapped in a hot cloth—before a lavender rubdown. The Moor Mud wrap involves being smothered from head to toe in an earthy paste containing calming natural lithium.
Food: Eleven restaurants, including Drew Nieporent’s Lucca and Nick’s Fishmarket, with healthy options like grilled swordfish and steamed lobster.
Rates: $225 to $8,000 per night.
How to Get There: Direct flights from New York to West Palm Beach with JetBlue, Delta, American, or Continental.
19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, Florida (305-932-6200)
The recently renovated Turnberry has come a long way from its notorious late-eighties heyday, when the nautically themed rooms were home away from home for the likes of Vitas Gerulaitis and Ford models, and Gary Hart romped aboard the Monkey Business, docked in the resort’s harbor. Now the décor is Mediterranean chic.
The Clientele: Europeans, South Americans, and Yankees from up north.
Fitness: Power-sailing, kayaking, and scuba-diving. Plus a new tennis and golf clinic for kids.
The Spa: “Gentlemen usually request this treatment,” says Nelly Giribaldi, one of the two women about to execute the four-handed massage, in which the therapists start on a client’s foot and move simultaneously up the body. But approximating the classic male spa fantasy isn’t Turnberry’s most impressive feat. Spa director Tammy Pahel scouts techniques from such far-flung lands as Nepal and Polynesia. Her latest haul: Mala Mayi, an Aussie treatment involving Aboriginal scalp massage.
Food: Chef Todd Weisz’s selections include ahi-tuna tartare with sunflower sprouts and wasabi caviar.
Rates: $435 to $4,200 per night.
How to Get There: From JFK and La Guardia to Miami (eighteen miles from the spa) with Continental or American. Or Continental, American, or Delta to Fort Lauderdale.
100 Ka’upulehu Drive, Ka’upulehu, Hawaii (808-325-8000)
It’s hard to think of a more attractive choice of swimming pools than at this low-key resort. The spectacular infinity pool borders the sea, and for true aquatic hijinks, you can try snorkeling across the King’s Pond, which is stocked with exotic fish. Poolside treats include frozen grapes and mistings with Evian.
The Clientele: The Four Seasons scores high on the romantic front. But for kids, there’s even a sand-bottom pool and mini chaises longues.
Fitness: Challenging classes, hikes along the shore or up the Hualalai volcano, personal training, a climbing wall, and surfing lessons.
The Spa: Relaxation alfresco. The eucalyptus steam, whirlpool, and cold plunge are all outdoors; even the showers are open-air. Massages—including Thai, Shiatsu, and myofascial release, a manipulation of the connective tissue, which is particularly good for chronic pain—are done in straw huts.
Rates: $520 to $6,700 per night.
How to Get There: United and American Airlines from JFK via Los Angeles to Kona (Big Island) International Airport. The resort is seven miles from the airport.
1311 Fraser Avenue, Lanai City, Hawaii (reservation number for both Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele: 800-321-4666)
Ah, Hawaii, where stunning natural beauty meets supersize theme-park resorts (and Tom Selleck!). Fortunately, Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele, the main hotels on the island of Lanai, are about as far from Honolulu sprawl (and Manhattan stress) as you can get. Though only fifteen miles apart, both have distinctive climates: Manele Bay is generally sunny, with lush gardens and isolated beaches, while the spa-less Lodge, in the mountains, is misty and cool with an English-country-estate motif—fireplaces, skeet shooting, and a dining room that serves venison. Each hotel has a championship golf course, but the one at the Lodge, awash in waterfalls, is particularly spectacular. Bill Gates liked Manele so much he decided to get married there.
The Clientele: Golf enthusiasts and couples seeking solitude.
Fitness: Golf, tennis, swimming, yoga, biking, hiking, and riding.
The Spa: It’s all about the native touch. Local therapies include Hawaiian lomi lomi massage, where the therapist’s forearm is used to release tension, and the He Makaki’i Kaiehu facial, finished off with a hydrating “aromaplasm” mask containing wheat germ and almond powder. Must-have is the “royal foot treatment,” with hot eucalyptus towels, massage, and a generous spritzing of essential-oil spray. There’s also a massage specially tailored to golfers, and, of course, the option of having treatments next to the cascading waterfalls, or by the sea.
Rates: $375 to $3,000 per night.
How to Get There: United Airlines flies with two or more stops out of JFK, La Guardia, and Newark via Denver and/or Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu/Oahu to Lanai City.
165 Kemble Street, Lenox, Massachusetts (413-637-4100)
The sweet smell of fresh air is reason enough to head to the Berkshires for a weekend of outdoor sports, but even in snowy weather, fitness fans will be awed by the range of activity at this converted mansion.
Fitness: In addition to hourly classes in everything from t’ai chi to trampoline to ballet to the newly popular Gyrotonics, there’s an indoor pool and running track. Hikes offer vistas beautiful enough to make a studio-apartment owner weep, but those who prefer trekking after the first thaw can still try snow-shoeing, pole hiking, and cross-country skiing on the property, or the downhill option a few miles away.
The Spa: Services here go well beyond beauty. There’s hypnotherapy to quit smoking, a breast-cancer-prevention program, and one-on-one consultations with behavioral and medical specialists. For indulgence, try the Shirodhara ayurvedic pedicure, which includes exfoliation and a massage with fragrant oils.
Food: People come to Canyon Ranch with serious health goals, so there are no alcoholic temptations (pack a flask!). But the cuisine is not exactly spartan—check out the gingerbread pancakes with blueberry sauce or the hazelnut-crusted tenderloin of beef.
Rates: $1,460 per person for a three-night minimum stay, including meals and classes.
How to Get There: By car: A two-and-a-half hour drive from New York. Call for directions. By rail: Amtrak from Penn Station to Albany-Rensselaer; from there, shuttle service can be arranged through Canyon Ranch. By air: Direct flights from New York to Albany (Continental, US Airways, and American) and Hartford (Continental, American). Shuttle service from both airports.
2800 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach, Florida (561-582-2800)
You’ll feel like you’re somewhere far more exotic than Florida as you’re massaged in an intimate white-canvas cabana just feet from the ocean. And though it borders aggressively social Palm Beach, this hotel, with its white marble lobby and creamy furnishings, feels private, even during hectic holiday times. The staff goes so far as to fill your bathtub with rose petals.
The Clientele: Business travelers, young families, couples, and wedding parties.
Fitness: Apart from the gym, there’s a beautiful oceanfront pool.
The Spa: Personal attention is the main focus at this quiet, intimate spa, where attendants greet you by name (but also know when you’re not in the mood for conversation). While the gym is petite, no detail is overlooked, from minted hand towels to water infused with cranberry or ginger and lime. Treatments run from hot-stone to anti-jet-lag therapy, après-sun massage to herbal clay wraps.
Food: “The Restaurant” serves an alternative-cuisine menu, with dishes like falafel-crusted salmon with date couscous and fig yogurt. Of course, if you’ve had it with tranquility, you can always venture out to Morton’s or Amici in Palm Beach.
Rates: $395 to $3,000 per night.
How to Get There: Direct flights from New York to West Palm Beach with JetBlue, Delta, American, and Continental.
Motu Tapu, Nunue, Bora Bora, French Polynesia (011 689 603 2020)
A step beyond Hawaii in exoticism and isolation, Tahiti has a tradition of private huts built on stilts above the ocean. Those at Bora Bora Nui come with four-poster beds draped in mosquito netting, and glass-paneled bathtubs so you can watch the fish darting beneath as you soak. Some suites have Jacuzzis, flat-screen TVs, and Internet access (please try to resist checking your e-mail).
The Clientele: Mainly French and Asian couples and some families.
Fitness: There’s yoga, a small but well-appointed gym, a 100-foot pool, and hiking in the mountains with a local machete-wielding guide.
The Spa: Sunset massage (solo or couples) takes on a whole new meaning at this brand-new spa, with its view of five islands. Starbucks addicts will appreciate the scrubs done with coffee grounds. And don’t miss the “Balinese Blessing,” including an aromatherapy foot bath in blue lagoon water.
Rates: $500 to $1,885 per night.
How to Get There: United Airlines flies via Los Angeles, with a connecting flight to Papeete Faaa with Air Tahiti, then on with Air Tahiti Nui Airlines to Motu Mute Airport. The ferry to Bora Bora takes fifteen minutes.
8301 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, California (805-968-0100)
One of the few oceanfront spas in the country, this two-year-old resort sits on 78 acres along the Santa Barbara coast and has a breathtaking view of the Pacific. The resort looks like a Mediterranean village, complete with gardens that keep its restaurants stocked with organic produce. You can even hike through the 1,000-acre avocado- and-lemon grove.
The Clientele: Hollywood types love the 211-seat screening room and directors’ lounge, and parents are wowed by the private kids’ club, with its endless array of children’s activities—it has even hosted visiting exotic animals, including leopards and lions. Oh, my. Fitness: Mountain biking, horseback riding, and guided hiking, from beginner to “condor level.” The Spa: There are 36 treatment rooms in the four-level spa, where the signature therapy is (not surprisingly) a citrus-avocado body polish. It’s also worth checking out the relaxing and detoxifying marine-mud wrap, the lymphatic drainage—great to get right upon arrival, because it helps with jet lag—and the cellular facial, during which “bio-integral live cells” (!) are used to diminish fine lines. Head up to the sun deck in your robe for a spa lunch and an ocean view.
Food: A classical guitarist sets the mood in the restaurant, Miro.
Rates: $395 to $5,000 per night.
How to Get There: United, American Airlines, or Delta via Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Phoenix to Santa Barbara Airport; resort is seven miles from the airport.