Movie Star History, Grace and Fine Dining at Chico Hot Springs, Montana

After leaving Bozeman civilization for a stunningly beautiful drive through the mountains of Montana, at the very end of the road lies a surprising oasis. Recorded first in 1865 in an explorer’s diary Chico became a mecca for people weary of body from rugged Montana days, or frail of health from all over the region in the 19th century. The natural heat and earthy minerals of these heated waters developed a reputation for relief from everything from kidney issues to skin disorders, while many just came to “plunge” because it feels so good.

We arrived on a cold blustery Montana day in February of the 21st century, with snow in the air, a chill in the bones and the ground crusted over. As we walked past the “Welcome Home” sign by the door, and into the large old fashioned Victorian main lodge, the fire was roaring in the wood stove, wonderful smells were creeping from the dining room, and returning visitors who were on a first name basis with the clerk behind the desk were signing into their favorite room for the weekend. Clearly glad to be “home”. The settled charm of a place with well over a hundred years experience at comforting visitors was immediately felt by all of us. Though we had never been there before, we did indeed feel welcomed home.

As I walked through the door of my room at the Lower Lodge, its comfortable slightly modern western interior, four poster bed and golden wood walls provided a sense of shelter from the harsh horizontal snow outdoors. My recently married daughter and her husband had a room upstairs that made them wish they had known about Chico Hot Springs when they were making wedding plans. I resisted the urge to ask for details, but they felt very cozy in their room.

Chico hourse barnBehind the Lower Lodge we found the Horse Barn, and were greeted by several horses with a layer of snow on their backs, and a sweet dusting of snow in their eyelashes. Chico is famous for horseback trail rides into Yellowstone National Park, carriage rides through the mountains, and ponies to introduce younger people to the ways of horses. The mountains surrounding Chico summon the spirit of exploring on horseback, and the horses seemed ready to answer that call. We also found that dog sledding tours were available there. We were very sorry to miss the chance to see the mountains from a sled with a team of dogs, or from the back of a horse as there is something of that quiet way of travel that stirs the soul in these huge rugged mountains. Every direction you turn the mountains call like a song on the wind.

Chico CottageAfter exploring outside for a while, we decided to take the “plunge” in the hot springs ourselves. Bathing suits in hand we ventured back to the main lodge and through the long winding halls to the huge natural spring pools. On the way we became acquainted with much of the history of this end of the road. The walls are covered with over a century’s worth of photos, maps, newspapers and other bits of history which tell a wonderful story of the evolution of a remote natural resource that has evolved with grace. It also tuned us in to looking at everything inside around us, a real treasure trove of eclectic adventure.

The outer pool is 44’ long and naturally heated with fresh spring water every day. The inner pool is smaller and hotter and under a roof, with “curb” service from the “Saloon” next to it. Both pools make your skin tingle with freshness, your muscles melt with pleasure, and your belief that there could be any problems in the outside world disappear.

After a short nap in my snugly room, we walked back to the main lodge and found the dining room. It is welcoming and comfortable, and everyone seemed to know each other even though they might have just met. We where we were immediately struck by the sophisticated menu.

Montana is famous for its beef, but fresh fish, pork and duck along with their own homemade bread and Chico grown herbs and vegetables were as beautifully prepared as surprising. Perhaps we were seduced by the clean snowy air combined with a long soak in the hot springs pool, followed by the luxuriant and mandatory four poster nap before dinner BUT the offerings in the dining room are a mountain miracle. Beef in Montana has a well deserved reputation, and Gavin’s vanished with barely need for a knife. I ordered the duck, which I try most places that it is offered, and Chico’s was among the best of the best. Crispy outside and richly tender inside. My daughter ordered trout, which she declared wondrously fresh and sweet, with a light lemony salsa on top.

Breakfast at Chico is another distinctive adventure, with three buffet tables laden with everything you can think of for breaking fast, and then some. One whole table filled with fresh pastries, and on top of that there is a menu of specialties! All the offerings were so tempting, so irresistible, that when we left we decided we needed a break from eating for the next 48 hours!

Chico Hot Springs is truly one of the most beautiful ways I have ever seen for taking a break from the world. I would like to go back and stay for a week, ride horses, hike in the mountains, sleep in that wonderful nest of a bed and let the universe take care of itself without me. Spend time in the dining room too, did I forget to mention that? I am sure that I would come home ten years younger and a few pounds heavier.

Luscious Dining and then Chico’s Famous Flaming Orange – the Ultimate follow up.

But the most astonishing thing of all though was their signature dessert, the Flaming Orange. I saw columns of fire erupting in the dining room, but I was so focused on the richness of the duck that I didn’t even think to ask what it was. After dinner though, our waitress informed us about the house specialty. She then arrived at the table with what was clearly an orange that had mounds of cream on top settled into what looked like a small iron skillet. With no fuss at all she torched it and yet another 3’ high geyser of flame shot upward and produced that singular campfire smell of burning sugar with the tang of citrus. It was just as interesting to taste as it was to watch too!
How to get there:
163 Chico Road
Pray, Montana (MT)  59065
get directions

Body Heavenly ~ Pink Sands Club Spa, Canouan SVG


2 of the 9 spas are over the reef, with glass floors

I have been an incredibly lucky girl, somehow growing up to be an experienced spa hound. I have been invited to some of the world’s most beautiful spas and met some of the worlds most talented masseuses. This image was taken when we went snorkeling at the Tobago Key Preserve.

We sailed just outside of two of the spa villas that are free standing over the water. Each one has a glass floor so that you can watch the fish and coral reef below during your massage. The other seven spa villas, dot the hillside to the left  behind, and the main complex of the Pink Sands Club is on the right.

beach10This is the path that goes from the main courtyard along the sand and to the spa villas. It is a beautiful walk with the music of the sea playing in the background as I walked from the pink elegance of my suite and relaxed grace of courtyard to the secluded environment of the spas. Each of the spa villas is accessed by funicular. I stepped onto wide wooden boardwalks that lead through the lush trees and flowers into the privacy of my own villa.

funiculaWhen I first entered the spa villa, on the left I found a covered porch of dark carved wood which faced out to the beautiful colors of the turquoise sea and the barrier reef that protects the wide white beaches below. The sound is constant and soothing, perfect in its compliment to the pampering environment of the spa villa with its surrounding dark green foliage and brilliant flowers.

spaOn my right was a lovely tiled shower that looked out over the porch and out to sea. Also I found a large changing room filled with soft spa robes, and storage in carved dark wooden cabinets.

I met a lovely dark eyed Balinese masseuse named Made (Mahday) who barely came up to my collar bone. She was very engaging in her interest in exactly what I was hoping would happen to my body under her care.

She offered me several choices for scented lotions, and with that settled she started a brushing therapy from head to toe. Very stimulating and closely followed by a scented exfoliant which stimulated, refreshed and soothed my well sunned skin with long sweeping strokes.  I slid into the shower to rinse off  the lotions Made had applied, and for a few minutes enjoyed the warm water as it ran over my well stimulated skin which was certainly enhance by the sparkling reflections on the tiles as the water splashed around among the blue tiles.

spa4Then began 90 minutes of one of the best massages that I have ever had. Made moved up and down my body in perfect rhythm, releasing my jet lagged muscles, and easing tension in all the tiny places that I am inclined to ignore. Her firm but gentle treatment was gratefully received my body, and not for a minute did I want to go to sleep and miss any of it! I was so immersed in Made’s gentle ministrations that it was a sad moment when she finished. It was then that I noticed that while my skin was richly soft with emollients there was no trace of oil. Very nice.

If you are lucky enough to be able to treat your body to this most beautiful therapy, this particular treatment is called “Tickle Me Pink” and I promise that there is no tickling involved. Just a most heavenly sensation that will have your body humming for hours and hours after you leave.

Video of Pink Sands Club:

World’s Best Spa

Each spa cottage floats like an island off this central canal.

Each spa cottage floats like an island off this central canal.

To see the magazine clip: page 39

Blending, that is the key to a really fabulous spa experience. In this case royal tropical elegance meets Bahamian culture to produce a world class experience in whitewashed plank and stone cottages floating like islands under tall rustling palms. This is the luxurious stage set by the designers of the Regent Palms spa. Sweet in its simplicity and rich in mental, physical and spiritual reward, the environment and lusciously delivered therapies leave you with an internal hum that lingers longer than your tan.

I did the signature Zareeba (Afrikaans for “personal space) treatment. I had never seen a Zareeba space before, and it looked for all the world like a teak crate, maybe 5’ tall and deep, 8’ long. Lying on its side with no front on it. There was a small bench on either end with a candle lit on the floor underneath. In the center was a large cerulean ceramic vessel. A handsome young Bahamian man came in and filled that vessel with boiling water that had been simmering lemon and eucalyptus. I sat on the small bench as a thick curtain was lowered that closed me into the Zareeba with the steam.

This is a Zareeba, Afrikaans for "your personal space",

This is a Zareeba, Afrikaans for “your personal space”,

This is the cleansing and it worked wonders for my body as the thoughts of the outside world drifted into utter unimportance. I found this to be much more soothing than electrically heated steam which is pumped into a space and sometimes seems too hot to breathe. Nothing but soft candle light, gently scented steam and me for 20 delicious peaceful minutes.

When the curtain was raised I stepped out into the softly shaded massage cottage and was gently dried of by sweet Amor, the Polynesian therapist. Once on the table she used long smooth slow strokes to renew my skin with an oil that never felt oily. For an hour it just rolled over my body smoothing skin and relaxing muscles. The sun peeked through the jalousie blinds, the palms rustled outside in the scented breeze and that became the whole sweet world. An hour disappeared in a blissful few minutes.

Days later I did the Pearl and Water Lily Passage because I simply could not help it. Earl, the lead therapist at the spa performed one of the most sensual and sensitive treatments that I have ever had. This is a treatment that combines gentle natural scents with gold infused oil for a full body massage that is followed by a facial massage treatment with essential actives combined to nurture the skin while slowing the aging process. The soothing was enhanced by the gentle glittering light from the water surrounding the cottage as jasmine floated on the breeze. There were many elements to this beautiful 90 minute therapy but frankly I couldn’t focus to pay attention. When it was time to go I could barely tell where my body ended and the soothing tropical breezes began.

I am a serious “spa hound” and consider myself pretty hard to “wow” but it happened with both experiences at this spa. The stage that Regent Palms has set for such restoration is as good as they get. The sound of water soothes and the light of it glitters softly on everything as it flows through the interior courtyard and surrounds the therapy cottages. Interior spaces are cool, graceful and soothing in the tradition of the Bahamas. The practitioners are gentle and intuitive in their usage of hands, nutrients, scents and oils. It’s a place that you never want to leave.

Relaxation at its finest.

Relaxation at its finest.

Not surprising to me was the news that On December 16th this spa won the Leading Spa Resort in the World, given out by the World Travel Awards.

The Award

Online Brochure

This article will be featured in the February 2013 issue of Upscale Living.

The Sweet Seduction of La Samanna, St. Martin

Seductive is the best word. I am a serious luxury hound and have had the great fortune to visit many astonishing, well thought out and pleasurable places. Each has its distinctions and the word that I would use for St. Martin’s La Samanna is  “seductive”. The whole environment of La Samanna wraps itself around you and whispers to you long after your tan fades.

The ultimate.

Arriving at around 10:30 PM we were escorted to our two bedroom villa in the dark. We could hear the surf sweeping up the beach through the three tall arched French doors open onto the terrace. Beyond the tall palms rustling in the evening breeze lay the wide white sand glowing in the moonlight. Beyond that the ocean glittered, disappearing into the night sky. I couldn’t resist, had to feel it on my skin. Wading out into the sparkling warm sea as it gently massaged my tired legs, I got my first look at the elegant moorish white columns, arches and terraces hanging on the cliff several hundred yards up the beach. So began the sweet seduction of La Samanna.

Warm air slid smoothly over my skin as I returned to our gracious living room. Knowing that we had traveled all day, our hosts had placed covered chargers laden with a variety of small sandwiches, bowls of exotic salads and a serious chocolate dessert on the large dark wood table between cozy stuffed couches. Breezes wafted tall white diaphanous curtains through the open doors, and at that moment it occurred to me how much this place stirs the senses. We moved to the terrace to enjoy the chocolate and Veuve Cliquot left chilling for us. Later in the silky sheets of my comfortable bed the waves lulled me to luxurious sleep with salty breezes whispering promises of more to come.

The beach in front of our villa.

Being an early riser, I was knee deep in the now tranquil brilliant blue water as the tall shadows of the palms on the beach grew shorter. One of the graceful doors opened to the terrace with a voice asking if I wanted the coffee prepared in our sparkling blue and white tile kitchen. Tough choice. Wading in the magical solitude of the early morning sea with the empty beach curving out of sight in either direction, or coffee in the sunlit living room. OK, coffee and a leisurely stroll up the raked sand to the dazzling cliff restaurant I had seen by moonlight.

We climbed the stone steps up the cliff, passing a shimmering blue pool with its half shell fountain as we left the brilliant sunlight for the cool tiles and arched shadows containing a breakfast buffet with seemingly endless selections and an ocean view that stops when it hits Spain. Between high white walls and glossy dark floors we found cobalt blue glasses and sparkling silver with the deepest of skies behind them practically humming with an invitation to breakfast. A crisp white linen covered table sat hanging over impossibly blue water. Sipping fresh coffee with every perfect bite from the endless buffet made lingering over breakfast the only way to go.

Breakfast awaits

This dining room is available for all meals, but there are equally luscious alternatives. Through the week there were pool parties, a torch lit lobster bake on the beach, and casual dining in the tavern. On the beach there is a raised deck with a small but complete bar and light lunch menu. Dinner in our suite was charming and we enjoyed dining in privacy on our terrace followed by swimming under the moon. The menu at La Samanna makes you want everything on it. Each meal is an adventure, distinctive in its blend of flavors and textures, infused with fresh local fruits, vegetables and fish enhanced by a lavish wine selection to compliment your choices. Of course the ultimate seduction is revealed in the decadent desserts.

Friar’s Beach, St Martin

Daily we explored St. Martin, a place that not only has an abundance of long white wide beaches but an astonishing variety of shops, places to hike or ride horses, and restaurants. You hear a variety of languages as you walk through the streets, energy and excitement flow everywhere. We went to a farmers market to buy fresh Caribbean spices one day and visited a recovering rain forest and had a wonderful lunch there on another. You could eat your way from one end of orient beach to another without hearing the same language twice or seeing both parts of a bikini all day!  We took in an outdoor street fair where we bought hand made silver jewelry, silk and cotton clothing, presents for friends at home, and delicious fresh drinks served in coconuts with native rums. We had lunch on a tiny island where the chefs kept fish and shellfish in live traps in the shallow water and cooked it fresh from there. I think you could roam around St. Martin for years without seeing anything twice. In fact, I bet you could sit still and let the life of the island swirl around you without seeing anything twice!

beachside fare

Of course we thought of La Samanna as home, having dinner with some people that we met there, and getting to know the names of some of the staff. One morning a gardener found me photographing particular flowers dripping dew in the early light around the grounds and then took me on a short tour of some particularly luscious flowers that he loved. When I headed back towards our villa, he came around the corner with a huge bouquet of mixed flowers for our living room. The people in the dining room learned our preferences, and on the breakfast table as we approached there was already one coffee and one tea, one orange juice and a grapefruit. This kind of intuitive and unobtrusive service is a hallmark at La Samanna.

Massage room at the Elysee Spa

One afternoon we came back from our wanderings with the express purpose of indulging in the Elysee Spa. Being an outdoors kind of girl I found the massage rooms perfect, only two solid walls for one thing. The louvered doors set into the walls to the south and west both opened wide onto a sunken garden protected from view by thick tangles of flowering vines growing into a tall stone wall that surrounded the entire back of the spa. One of the doors led to an outdoor shower with a trellis wall barely able to support the enormous vine flowers weaving through it. Steam released exotic scents into my shower while blossoms dripped as tiny crystals of color. I had a massage first and then heated stones were placed along my spine on places of tension. I went from fully charged to completely relaxed to practically disconnected from the planet in 90 minutes. We were taken by golf cart back to our villa so as to prolong this heavenly balmy state. Chaises on the terrace for the evening sunset, cold tart margaritas and a wonderful dinner being delivered.  Sweet seduction complete.

La Samanna is a place that you could happily never leave, but St Martin will always deliver something new when you do leave the grounds. Getting to St. Martin is relatively easy from almost anywhere. Of course the nicest way to arrive is on one of the Superyachts you see in the harbor.  They always stop when they are in the area as this is the best place in the Caribbean for provisions from all over the planet. In a perfect world I would spend happy weeks exploring St. Martin and living in the sweet seduction that Orient Express has created called La Samanna at the far side of the Caribbean.

La Samanna
PO Box 4077
97064 St Martin CEDEX
French West Indies
Tel: + 590 590 87 64 00
Fax: + 590 590 87 87 86
Tel: +1 800 854 2252
Tel: +1 212 575 7030
Fax: +1 212 575 7039


Rescue Remedy for Too Much Fun in The Sun

Scrub Island is the first new private island resort in the BVI in 15 years, and along with it comes a brand new spa! After invigorating snorkeling over coral reefs, indulging in the sumptuous offerings at the restaurant followed by a cooling mojito by the pool…. we knew perfection could be achieved with a visit to their spa.

The Scrub Island Spa

We left the blazing light over Trellis Bay to enter the cool white villa of the Scrub Island Spa. And what a soothing environment they have created to rescue us from the torment of over indulging in delights of the Caribbean! The interior was that perfect blend of shaded verandas looking over sparkling turquoise water.

With skin still warm from the sun the cool oleander scented air inside was delicious. Emily and Courtenay showed us into a tandem massage room with a view over the channel, orchids and shells on each massage table, and large comfy chairs to sit in while they massaged our sun dried feet with fresh cut citrus fruit followed by a soak in tepid water. Relief began from the feet up.

From there we moved to the soft massage tables for a treatment that was so soothing that it is nearly impossible to recall the details of the treatments. I thought my friend summed it up best by saying “I am one with the air”. I felt that way too. After an hour or Emily’s ministrations, my muscles and skin were so well treated that I simply could not tell where when my body ended and the air around me began. It was in truth one of the best massages that this spa hound has ever encountered. Thank you so much for that Emily!

Facial Massage area.

Re-entry into the real world was slow as we sat on the shaded veranda and watched the slow parade of lovely yachts entering Trellis Bay, sipping water with slices of cucumber in it. Just Perfect.

The Scrub Island Spa can be accessed by water taxi from Trellis Bay, or by stopping at the yacht marina on the island. It is well worth the trip as these girls have magic in their hands and a sweet small spa that gets really high marks! You can find out about the treatments offered by visiting the web site. Personally, I think I will try them all eventually!

Double Massage Room

For Spa Menu:

Winter’s Silver Lining – The Purple Mountain’s of Arizona

As I look out the window I am acutely aware that the six months of gray skies, cold temperatures and precipitation of some sort has begun. It is 15 degrees, everything is dim, and snow is spitting from the sky. And to think that just days ago I was surrounded by golden sunlight, endless blue sky, plum colored mountains and rolling golf links surrounding a graceful resort, several shops, a few restaurants and a lovely new spa. This is Tubac, Arizona.

Every morning we woke early to the warm breezes of an Arizona day. We walked out of our suite, and into a small village area where the scent of fresh bacon in the breeze brought us to the sunny breakfast room. We usually chose to sit outside and watch the brilliance unfold as cows wandered around the golf course and waiters brought fresh healthy things as we considered our options for the day.

One morning we crossed into Nogales, Mexico for a bit of bargaining in the shops. Mexican traders will drag you in off the streets saying “You are my first customer of the day, special discounts. Almost Free”. They are shameless flirts, will offer you tequila “made by my uncle” and give you small gifts for purchasing with them. If they don’t have the size of something you like, they will dash out into the street, haggle with another merchant, and sell you his product. They offer advice and suggest restaurants as long as you promise to return to their shop later. Go ahead, be shameless too. It’s fun and it’s the Mexican way.

One morning we rode bicycles down the short dusty road into Tubac. What a delightful little town spanning the range from Mexican hand crafts and traditional work, to stunning contemporary artistry. We had lunch at a fresh air bistro enjoying fresh Mexican cooking and the exotic wind vanes of another artist bending the light gently in the soft mid day breeze. Jewelry, leather and clothing of all types and price ranges was to be found in southwestern buildings, adobe shacks and modern lofts off the dusty streets.

Another morning we played golf on the beautiful course that surrounds the entire village resort. The course is a beautiful rolling landscape that surrounds the houses, hotel suites and inner village of the resort and is itself surrounded by towering purple mountains. Its most interesting feature to me was the ever present “girls” grazing next to the greens. They are practically pets right up until they become a fresh part of the restaurant menu, tender and delicious right off the hoof!

Every afternoon at the Tubac Resort, we went to the new spa, a lovely tile and mesquite building with tall windows and a balmy solarium in the center of the resort village. Treatments are perfectly designed to sooth sun drenched skin and golf tired muscles. Wonderful gentle falls of water ran down the walls infusing the air with moisture and the relaxing sound like very gentle rain. Pitchers of iced water filled with limes were at hand before and after treatments as we sat in cloud soft robes.

My first treatment was called Tui Na. Sara’s strong hands soothed the whole length of my body. She infused the air with different aromas blending calming herbs with long smooth strokes and greener scents with deep tissue work. Interesting guitar music softly filled the room to stimulate several senses at once. For 80 minutes this process eased from quiet and peaceful to energizing and back to soothing. The end result was a head to toe body hum that lingered for days.

Another afternoon I had one of the most refreshing facials that I have ever had. We had learned to come quite early to enjoy the ambiance of the spa and the comfort of the solarium before treatments. The spa room was as calming as I had found it the day before. Today though, I was offered a choice of scents for the air and the cleansers and lotions. I chose something light and floral which just barely lingered all evening. The treatment itself was soft and smooth and left my skin feeling calm and soothed, very nice.

There are very nice shops at the resort as well as in the town. We bought clothes there to remind us of the delicious stay in the purple mountains of southern Arizona. We enjoyed every minute of our time at the Tubac Golf and Spa Resort, and as I turn to the window again, I can barely believe that I left. My mind takes a small holiday into the possibilities of staying out there for the winter…..  It’s pretty easy to get to though, so I might just have to go back before the daffies start emerging!

 For more information or reservations you can visit:

Spa Hopping Down the Riviera Maya

Spa destinations are evolving all over the world. Essentially a spa destination is a resort that is dedicated to lifting you completely from the familiar patterns of daily life with the expectation that when you do return you will be refreshed and invigorated through the use of their spa. In each resort the mind is offered a different surrounding atmosphere ranging in style from soothing massage and relaxation to an active schedule for fitness. One spa destination I visited believes that the key to renewal is to be dramatically romantic and offers an all adult environment. Another focuses on family interaction combined with active sports followed by relaxation, aromatherapy and fine dining.

In each the body is nurtured by its fabulous food which runs all the way from light, lean and fresh meals presented with creative elegance to rich dining that is practically an immersion experience. In each resort the soul is nourished with its spa. Each spa specializes in treatments of massages, wraps, soaks and scrubs to offer the best of beautification, purification and rejuvenation. The whole experience at each place I visited is about renewal, being refreshed, pampered and reborn, made ready to face the rigors and disciplines of daily life with a fresh eye. It is left to you to choose the location, style and atmosphere in which this will be accomplished.

I was searching for a mind, body and spirit rebirth surrounded by wide white beach and perfect blue water. The reason I chose Cancun, Mexico is because it is easy to get to with generally inexpensive fares. I left Burlington Vermont at 7:25 AM and was in Cancun in time for lunch. No hassles, perfect. Each of these spa destinations I found is within a half hour of the Cancun airport.

Thalasso Spa at Paraiso de la Bonita

40 miles south of Cancun lies the spectacular Riviera Maya, miles of wide white beach, and a Caribbean blue ocean that has you taking off your sunglasses to check the reality of the color.  Past a small sign and down a long sandy road lies the inclusive spa resort of Paraiso de la Bonita. Freshwater pools of harmonized blues and the rolling luminescent ocean is instantly soothing. Walking between ponds swirling with multi colored coy under a high peaked grass roof to pass through the 15 foot tall adobe walls I saw an enchanting world, very far from my normal life.  Glistening white beach and graceful palms and beyond that the tropical turquoise ocean merging with the clear dense indigo sky. Very far from my normal life actually.

Leaving the mid day sun the cool adobe spa area is the first step into a timeless physical refreshment. I had my first Thalasso therapy at the spa at Paraiso de la Bonita, and it was a stunning demonstration of the befits of the nutrients, minerals and phytoplanktons from seawater.

The 80 minute treatment begins in a dark quiet room with an aggressive sea salt scrub that I found invigorating, leaving my skin tingling and receptive. This was followed by the gentle sensation of salt water rain delivered by the Vichy shower set at the perfect temperature as the granular salt rinsed away with long smooth strokes.  lotion with emollients and phytoplankton from the depth of the sea was then massaged into my thirsty skin. I felt fresh, silky, almost langorous for days afterwards.

Our favorite dining area is open to the breezes where the menus offer a wide spectrum of taste and texture including the most delicious avocado salad I have ever tasted. There are three choices of places to dine, including in your suite. The suites at Paraiso de la Bonita are airy, spacious and instantly welcoming. They all have places designed to sit out in the evening by candle light and let the ocean work its magic. The total experience is designed to create memories completely disconnected from stress of outside life. Services are delivered with such invisibility as to appear telepathically .

Safely tucked between the mangroves and the pristine beach, surrounded by the perfect colors of the Caribbean sea, exquisitely fed and pampered by very talented hands it is hard to even remember that there is an outside world.

Spa del Mar at La Meridian Cancun

At the heart of La Meridian Cancun is its Spa del Mar, which is deservedly famous as a transforming experience. I had the most rejuvenating facial of my life at the Spa Del Mar, given by a tiny sweet mayan lady named Aydeth in 50 minutes that seemed to last forever and was too short all at once. The treatment rooms at Spa Del Mar are dark and quiet and made me feel as if I was alone in the universe being pampered by thoughtful kind people to the sound of gently falling water and soft ethereal music. Afterwards we visited quiet rooms where we sipped chlorophyll water in complete relaxation, and lingered in the peace that we found from our treatments.

The hotel rooms are large, each one with a view of the ocean as well as the swirling blue pools with islands and waterfalls that drift in sequence down to the perfect turquoise ocean isolated from the outside world by the resort itself. There are several restaurants available to guests at La Meridian Cancun, each with its own style and presentation. We had breakfast one morning in a glass sunroom which had the benefits of feeling outside without the heat or direct impact of the tropical sun. The Spa Food part of the menu included fruits cut into beautiful shapes and blended with mint and yogurt, followed by poached eggs on delicious thin toasts covered with rich cheese sauce that left us feeling deliciously satisfied and eager to relax at La Maridien Cancun.

Spa Aqua

Located in the heart of the busy downtown area of Cancun, Spa Aqua is an immersion into renewal of the spirit from the instant we stepped out of the bustling of the city.  Just up the hill from the sounds of traffic, the smell of hot asphalt and the intense tropical sun we entered a 30 foot tall glass atrium. The interior was filled with the calm green light of a jungle grotto, the gentle sounds of water falling into a shallow pool surrounding the black water mirror in the center bringing refreshing cool of a woodland stream to our senses. At the same time the faint sounds of ethereal music quietly infuse peace of mind. Just walking into the atrium removed us gently from the ways of the hot busy world.

Spa Aqua is a spa with the added facilities of handsome rooms, graceful fresh water pools and four different styles of restaurant, not to be confused with a hotel that has a spa. The spirit of the people who work there is reflected in the way they greet each other in passing. A hand to the heart, very slight bow and the mayan greeting “in la ceche” meaning “I am you, you are me, we are friends”. It is a small gesture, but once we got used to seeing it we really began to appreciate a world where people stated such communion as casually as we say “hi”.

The spa is dark, tall and mysterious, filled with spare woven furniture and tall black pottery candle holders as it wanders around with the passages cool and tranquil, offering seemingly entrance randomly to softly lighted treatment rooms. I had an aroma sensory massage that did in fact take me away from the life I knew outside. Worlds away, 80 minutes seemed truly timeless in its peacefulness, followed by lingering in quiet candle lighted meditation.

Kayanta Spa at Ritz Carlton

“Ka a yaan tah” is a mayan expression meaning “to be reborn” and is the core philosophy of the Ritz Carlton Cancun. The 5500 square foot spa sheltered from the intense tropical sun, offers welcoming quiet and diffused light of the Kayanta Spa folded itself around us as we entered from the beautiful pools and gardens in the center grounds of the hotel.

I had the aromatherapy massage. It began with a detoxifying massage which not only left me feeling completely cleansed and removed from the elements of every day life, but also calm and relaxed within the scent of herbal oils. The flow element seemed to produce a balance of relaxation and excitement about the future which either came from or was reflected by the different blend of herbs used in the treatment. And finally, the tonic of fresh invigorating and stimulating therapy that filled me with excitement. I wanted to write, paint and stimulate my senses with water, wind and laughter. I enjoyed this spectrum of sensations enormously.

Surrounding this Kayanta Spa is a lovely hotel, in grand Ritz Carlton style, with a series of blue tiled pools with different temperatures so that we could find our preferred relationship with the day’s weather. Large raised and shaded palapas are for guests use between the pools and the ever present glowing Caribbean. These are a purely delightful way to spend a day, lunch was delivered and of course cocktails. We were asked to reserve them in advance as they were very popular and you would be wise to book one ahead.

The Spa at Secrets Excellence

We arrived at this spa at night and it could not have been a more dramatic impression if we had landed on another planet. Secrets Excellence appeared as a regal ethereal city, with tall clean lines, sweeping curves and blistering white walls reflecting the glittering turquoise from the lighted pools as we approached what seemed to be a temple in its center. With arches 30 feet tall the billowing white curtains gracefully drifting in the evening breezes promising secrets and mysteries within.

This combination of pristine white walls and reflecting water carried through to the inside of the spa, with its many types of hydro therapy, massages and wraps. We saw some of the most beautifully designed and crafted pools that I have seen anywhere in this spa, blended with slender pillars, tall arches filled with graceful white drapes gently shifting in the breeze that inspires the soul as well as nourishes the body.

Romance is everywhere. This is an adult only resort where the assumption is that you came to have your senses seduced in every way. There are seven restaurants within this mystical city, each with its own style and variety of menu united in the passion elevating concept. Doors passed in the hallways had banners that said “honeymoon” or “anniversary” in gold letters proclaiming the joy of those within. Many small places within this city were created for two, to sit and talk, caress or share a glass of wine.

These were all places for a spiritual make over, each in their own way. Each very beautiful, full of the undeniable glory of the Mexican coastline manipulated by talented designers into a distinct retreat from the world. Each has a magnificent team in the kitchen, exquisitely trained spa staff and delivers pretty much perfect services to their guests. None is inexpensive. A stay at any of these is truly a pampered experience, good for all parts of you and one that you will certainly want to repeat. As the famous commercial says “Go ahead, you are worth it!”

Paraiso de la Bonita Resort & Thalasso Spa
reservations: (52)998.872.8320

Spa del Mar at Le Maridien Cancun reservations: 1.800.225.5843

Spa Aqua
reservations: 52.998.881.7620

Kayanta Spa at Ritz Carlton Cancun
reservations: 52.998.881.0808

The Spa at Secrets Excellence
reservations: 52.998.872.8500