By Beth Friedman
The past couple of weeks has brought true contrasts of color into my world. I went from a bona fide tropical paradise almost straight into the desert. Two vastly different yet dazzling places, and in both I experienced a spectrum of spa.
For anybody who thinks that a spa is a spa is a spa, I’ve got two unbelievable places to tell you about. They couldn’t be more different from one another, but both offer their guests beautiful experiences that are reflective of their homes.
I’ll start with Le Taha’a Manea Spa, which is part of the Le Taha’a Resort, located on a private island not too far from Bora Bora. It is without question one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been, and pretty easy to get to considering the level of seclusion guests enjoy here – about a 35 minute flight from Papeete, Tahiti to Raitae Airport, where from the plane’s tarmac you walk about 300 feet to get into the resort’s boat for a relaxing 45 minute ride to this idyllic location.
The spa is situated on a beautiful lake, which is the view you are welcomed with from most of the indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. It is truly different from anything I’ve ever seen and nothing short of breathtaking. A wide variety of treatments include everything from their signature Vai Vanira, a vanilla bath followed by a full body vanilla oil massage, to getting a traditional Tahitian tattoo from their resident artist. Even the full-sized gym overlooks the lake.
All of this tranquility comes at a price because here you are at a 5 diamond deluxe property where accommodations are either over water bungalows or beach front villas. It is absolutely the perfect place for any couple looking for something truly unique and quiet, and is without question worth every penny. The photo below is just a snapshot of what greeted me just outside the glass door from my bedroom of one of the Royal Villas. The beach continues to stretch into the distance, the water is pristine, crystal clear, calm and shallow. Peaceful doesn’t begin to describe it.
Rates fluctuate with time of year and location/size of the bungalow or villa, so if you’d like to know more about all of the different options, their costs and details like how many bedrooms or whether or not there’s a plunge pool, just give me a shout!
By contrast, but no less wonderful, Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson Arizona has a most interesting approach to wellness. With a focus on what they call ‘Mindfullness”, which keeps us in the moment no matter what we’re doing, Miraval offers unique classes, activities, and spa treatments that provide guests with fun and creative ways to care for themselves from the inside out. This includes a wide variety of things like nutritional work ups and wonderful, healthy, gourmet meals (and cooking classes!), consults with Dr. Andrew Weil proteges (Dr. Weil himself holds occasional seminars), cardio drumming and Chi Gong classes, equestrian activities, hiking, meditation, cardio dance, wall-climbing, desert tightrope and zip-lining. And this is just scratching the surface.
Two special places seen below at Miraval are the Kiva Firepit, where guests can mingle, star gaze and enjoy the desert air. And the Labyrinth, which is a place meant for walking and quiet reflection.
Throughout the entire property, which consists of 6 small villages, you can hear water trickling up and down various streams and water features, wander through pathways throughout that are dotted with desert vegetation and interesting sculptures, all at the base of the Catalina Mountains. There is nothing in the world like the desert air to cleanse the soul, and this special resort is all about doing just that.
Suffice to say, Miraval has a serious understanding of how to work with guests on health and wellness, and an important element of the whole experience is of course, the spa. When I was there, I had a wonderful treatment called ‘Nurture’. It is a 100 minute “ritual” starting with a warm loofah exfoliation with white peate enzymes (not really sure what that is, but so what?), sea minerals and blueberry. Then there is the application of a soothing mushroom and phyto-nutrient masque, followed by a wonderful outdoor shower. And it wasn’t over yet! Then came the full-body massage using arctic berry milk cream. My skin never felt so good!!
There are several levels of accommodations at Miraval starting with their indigenously decorated, entry level Deluxe rooms, all with “signature sleep experience” bedding and outdoor space. The newest are in their Catalina ‘Village” where each Villa is Leeds certified and amazingly cozy with that “to die for” bedding, muted colors among natural materials with incredible sunlight and views from unique glass walls allowing indoor/outdoor living.
Again, not an inexpensive experience, but who can put a price-tag on your well-being? And in fact, Miraval’s per person rates include accommodations, airport transfers, food & beverage (not alcohol), most group classes and activities and $130 resort credit that can be applied to things like spa treatments per day, so it’s a fantastic value.
Both of these wonderful hotel/resorts & spas are dedicated to making their guests feel welcome, special, pampered and above all else, healthy and cared for. For more information about booking Miraval or Le Taha’a let me know. Or if you’re looking for other spa/health wellness suggestions, I’ve got a world of ideas!
Your Journey By Beth