Thursday, August 8, 2013

Great Spas

Hotel Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast
There are people who are just not that into spas. Then there’s me. The Amalfi Coast is not a traditional spa destination - oh, the five-star hotels have staff who can give you a massage or a pedicure, and they set aside a few tastefully decorated rooms with the usual aromatherapy and doof-doof music. Quite nice. But recently this has been taken to a whole new level. There's been a new addition to the Coast -- destined to be one of the great spas of the world.

The new Hotel Monastero Santa Rosa, perched in a converted covent high on the cliffs above the fishing village of Conca dei Marini, has an American lady owner who understands these things. Nearly half the hotel space is devoted to an exquisite spa, with water treatments of all kinds, a tepidarium in the nuns’ old wine cellar, a Rasul, talented international staff, and a view to die for. Non-hotel guests can take advantage of this with half or full day sessions, and I can highly recommend it. 

That's the Santa Rosa spa right ahead...
Here’s how my spa day looked: the Santa Rosa shuttle collected me from Amalfi mid-morning and ferried me to the sparking hotel on the cliff (opened last season, 2011). There I was greeted by the lovely spa manager Francesa and given a tour of the facilities. The info form asked which of five genres of music I’d like with my treatments. I spent the next hour and a half luxuriating in the wet areas: foot spa with pomegranate crystals; sauna, ice bath, steam room, emotion shower, whirlpool, and the lovely relaxing tepidarium. Many original features of the historic building remain, including the original walls and vaulted ceilings, and the fit-out is a beautiful blend of traditional fittings and hidden technology.

Then followed a foot treatment (bliss!), body scrub, massage and facial, by a wonderfully expert professional (an English staff member who has worked in New Zealand and the Bahamas). Relaxed to the max, I sat on the outdoor terrace in my spa bathrobe, gazing at the stunning view across the infinity-edge swimming pool and the Tyrrhenian Sea, while being served a light spa lunch chosen earlier from the menu: vegetable ‘lasagne’, fish, fresh squeezed orange juice.

Spa lunch.
Then it was time for a manicure AND a pedicure, sipping herbal tea, more time in the wet areas. Rather blissed out by this stage, I wandered from the spa. Reluctant to leave the view, I lingered on the bar terrance to enjoy a coffee, before taking the shuttle back to town as evening began to fall and the pink glow of an Amalfi Coast sunset warmed the horizon.

I’ll admit to indulging in some great spas around the world. Memorable experiences include the divine spas at the Evason Hideways Six Senses Resorts in Koh Samui & Hua Hin in Thailand (where the spa is set in huts in a lily pond) and Zighy Bay in Oman; the spectacular Lalu at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan; the big spas that the US does so luxuriantly such as the Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida and the enormous complex of the Revive Spa at the J W Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix, Arizona; spas in Hawaii, Florida, Bangkok, the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, the Hunter Valley in Australia, Istanbul, Toronto, Alpe di Siusi in the Italian Dolomites...a memorable two days in a bathrobe at Ste. Anne's Spa in the countryside in Ontario...and the small but unique Waldheim Alpine Spa at Cradle Mountain in the Tasmanian wilderness, where floor-length windows look out over the National Park and only a wombat or two might disturb your serenity. 

And now there’s the Santa Rosa. What’s not to like?

Spa locations I have known and loved....

Koh Samui, Thailand
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Alpe di Siusi, Italian Dolomites
Hua Hin, Thailand
Ste. Anne's Spa, rural Ontario, Canada

The Lalu, Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

Zighy Bay, Oman

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