Daily Pampering: Surrender to Spa Montage

Spend four days at Spa Montage, and you’ll never look at the world the same way. The Montage Laguna Beach is offering a series of decadent spa treatments that start on Sundays and end on Thursdays in this resort perched atop a coastal bluff. Occupy one of the resort’s 250 rooms and prepare to be revitalized in its 20,000 square-foot spa.

The all-inclusive spa package begins with conversation about the concerns and issues you have from diet to lifestyle, which will be used to identify the treatments that will benefit you most. Massage treatments are woven into group fitness classes, personal life coaching and meals at culinary destination Studio. If you want to master what happens in the kitchen, you’ll have unlimited access to classes with The Loft’s Chef de Cuisine Brian Black, who has a unique approach to fusing comfort foods and spa menus.

If you need a long break — during which your body is the center of attention — this is it. Spa Montage is the solution to all the stress that ails you.

Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Five steps to a better Valentine’s Day from Fairmont

After the toll that 2009 took on your spirit and your body, it’s time for you to commit to a relaxed and steady 2010. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in on board with this and is kicking in some amazing deals through its Willow Stream spa brand, which is available around the world. So, if you’re planning to hit Monte Carlo, Miami or the Mayan Riviera, you’ll have a top-shelf treatment ready and waiting for you. Check out the “Follow Your Heart” spa experiences on tap at 11 Fairmont hotels this Valentine’s Day.

One Heart: This is a Red Ribbon Lips facial upgrade and includes a complimentary Jane Iredale Organic Sugar Lip Scrub treatment that will soften and soothe your lips. Worried about dry, cracked lip kissing? That won’t be a problem after this treatment.

Two Heart: Willow Stream’s Sending You Kisses offer includes a Willow Stream Lip Kit and Lip Definer pencil, which will make softened lips eye-catching — translation: you’ll more likely have the chance to use them.

Three Heart: Enjoy a Heartfelt 90-minute spa experience, an hour of which is side-by-side for couples, with a 30-minute dip in the spa’s oversized whirlpool tubs … complete with champagne.

Four Heart: The Love Me package makes you the center of attention. The solo day at the spa includes a 90-minute experience before noon and a Willow Stream spa bento box lunch.

Five Heart: Willow stream will Love You Forever. On the first day of the month, guests will enjoy enjoy either a 60-minute or 90-minute spa treatment … for an entire year!

Participating resorts include: Fairmont Turnberry Isle (Miami), Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Scottsdale, Fairmont Le Montreux Place (Switzerland), Fairmont Mayakoba (Mexico), Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Fairmont Banff Springs (Alberta), Fairmont Dubai, Fairmont Southampton (Bermuda), Fairmont Monte Carlo, Fairmont Empress (Victoria, British Columbia).

Spoil yourself at the Four Seasons Hong Kong

When the Four Seasons Hong Kong was completed in 2005, it entered one of the most competitive markets in the world. Hong Kong is home to a collection of premier hotels, all constructed to take advantage of the city’s stunning scenery and appetite for luxury services. In my search to review the best that Hong Kong has to offer, the Four Seasons is certainly the definition of grandeur and style.

One of the hotel’s best assets is its location. Situated near the base of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the hotel rises 45-floors above the IFC mall and Central / Hong Kong MTR Stations. This means that while a Bentley airport-pickup can be arranged, the hotel is directly above the quick & convenient Airport Express rail line – and at the center of most of the city’s major destinations. It’s just a short walk to the famous Star Ferry Terminal, Midlevels Escalators, and late night hotspot Lan Kwai Fong.

The downside is that the hotel doesn’t offer a direct view of the emblematic skyline that is often associated with the city – as some of the top competitors do (the Intercontinental, Peninsula). But the views from the hotel are spectacular in their own right, and the proximity of the hotel to attractions in Central is preferable to the Tsim Sha Tsui side.

To the North: panoramic views of Victoria Harbor and the rapidly growing ICC building – with Kowloon sprawled out beneath and encompassed by the peninsula’s jagged mountains. On the opposite side: a flawless view of the peak & surrounding skyscrapers, making it impossible to mistake the fact that you’re in the very heart of the city.

There are four restaurants that are open to the public, including an award-winning French restaurant named Caprice, and Chinese restaurant Lung King Heen – the only restaurant in Hong Kong to receive three Michelin stars.

A fifth restaurant is only available to hotel guests at the poolside and provides more casual dining experience. The outdoor sun deck has several pools that overlook the harbor and the adjacent skyline. It’s relaxed and family-friendly, and a welcome escape from the 90 degree summer heat & humidity.

One of the hotel’s finest services is undoubtedly the wide range of luxury Spa treatments. Guests that schedule an appointment at the Spa at the Four Seasons are invited to arrive early and enjoy a variety of top notch facilities in the Vitality Lounge. The lounge is a series of beautifully lit and decorated rooms featuring a sauna, steam room, vitality pool, and personal relaxation area – complete with food & drinks, a personal television and music.

When it’s time for the treatment to begin, a staff member will lead you upstairs to one of seventeen rooms – the best of which have a perfect view out on to Victoria Harbor. Ambient music and aromatic candles compliment the view to create an elegant atmosphere for the private session.

From 250-million-year-old Himalayan salt scrubs to mud wraps and massages, there is a full lineup of unique appointments that aim to refresh physical well being and mental focus.

Overall, the Four Seasons Hong Kong is a great choice if you want to be in a prime location with a full list of luxury services at your fingertips. If you’re making an extended stay for business, the Four Seasons also has an exclusive development of residences that are available with a one-month minimum stay.

As expected, luxury comes with a price tag – rooms start at around $540 USD and appointments at the Spa start around $60 USD.

More information is available on the Four Seasons’ website.

Adirondack escape updated, ready for guests

When summer arrives, New Yorkers tend to turn to the Hamptons or the Jersey shore – depending on tax bracket. Many forget that the Adirondacks are only a few hours away. When reminded of this, the usual response involves “family destination” … and maybe a sneer. It also involves a mistake. While this corner of “upstate” remains family-friendly, there are plenty of upscale accommodations and experiences, without the traffic and travel headaches that New Yorkers find to the east and south.

The Sagamore Hotel is in the midst of a $20 million renovation, a rarity in today’s constrained market. But, the benefits of this investment are evident upon arrival. Much of the property has been redesigned rebuilt to reinforce the luxury experience. The on-property spa has 13 treatment rooms, obviating the need to wait, and the indoor pool makes it possible to take a dip even in the meanest of northern New York winters.

While the regular guestrooms are perfectly serviceable, drop the extra cash, if possible, to upgrade to a suite. Spacious doesn’t begin to describe … the bathroom. The elbow room available in the living room and bedroom is even more profound. Even for an intimate getaway, you don’t want to be crammed together – that’s a choice you’d prefer to make on your own! The bed is the star of the guestroom experience. Again, the king-sized scale makes close quarters a choice rather than a necessity, and the mattress is soft without swallowing you. In fact, it’s probably the best “compromise” bed available. Both my wife and I were happy, and I prefer to sleep on a board, while she feels that beds should be comfortable.


As you wander The Sagamore Hotel, you get the feeling that something is somehow different. But, it’s hard to put your finger on it. The menu is carefully crafted, and the guestrooms are large and inviting. The lobby is spacious with natural pockets for larger groups to sit and have a sense of being separated from others. While this is all advantageous, it’s similar to what you’d find in any ex-urban resort. The Sagamore succeeds, however, in making it all hang together. It just fits. The mystery behind this connectedness can be traced to the general manager.

Tom Guay, who runs the Sagamore, was previously the property’s executive chef. It’s a strange route to GM – which I was unafraid to tell him. Usually, the top dog comes out of the sales department. Chefs are crazy people that you hide from the guests for most of the day, only occasionally letting them appear tableside for brief periods of time. Then, they return to the familiar insanity of a busy kitchen. Guay did get a chuckle out of my reaction (and handled it well). Apparently, the number of chefs rising to the top is increasing, and he credits the ability to multitask under hectic conditions as the driver. The attention to detail for which successful chefs are famous, I realized, is what brings the Sagamore together.

The sense of cohesion extends beyond the core property to the “lodges,” which physically constitute a property-within-a-property at the Sagamore. This part of the resort is more economical, ensuring that the traditional Adirondack constituency – families on a budget – can continue to enjoy the quiet natural surroundings. The large guestrooms in this corner of the Sagamore come with living rooms that have pullout beds in the couches and in-suite kitchenettes.

Jeopardizing the continuity of the Sagamore is the fact that there is still plenty of construction across the property: the $20 million is still being spent. The outdoor pools are being built, and guestrooms are in their final stages. A new rooftop deck is underway. While some guests may find these efforts to be a bit of an eyesore, consider the works in progress to be similar to the last multi-course meal you ate. Did the entrée suck because it was being cooked while you ate your soup? Of course not. The ongoing construction only impedes the guest experience if you choose to let it. I sat outside both nights I was on property and worked (wireless internet access is available in the rooms and in outside seating areas) and had no problems at all.

If you’re looking for a quick dash out from New York City or Boston, the Sagamore is a great alternative. It’s about the same distance from both cities, and you won’t have to deal with the crowds that plague the Hamptons and Cape Cod. Get in early, and stake your space while the renovations are being finished: the crowds are already starting to pour in!

Disclosure: The Sagamore Hotel picked up the tab for this jaunt, but the observations are all mine!

New Peter Island wants to help make a new you

Peter Island Resort & Spa is celebrating a new look with a fresh deal. The largest private island resort in the British Virgin Islands has refurbished its 32 ocean-facing rooms and 20 beachfront junior suites and wants to show off the new look. Hey, if you just got a makeover, wouldn’t you? So, the property is offering up the “New Us, New You” package, which runs through October 31, 2009.

Remember, this is Peter Island, so you’re going to have to put out some cash, but you’ll get plenty for it. For $2,780 (or $4,020 for a junior suite), you’ll get five nights and only pay for four. On top of that, the resort is throwing in three meals a day and access to resort activities, including windsurfing, kayaking and the like. The best part – in my mind, at least – is the 75-minute Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage. The private yoga class for two doesn’t do much for me, but if you’re into yoga, I imagine you’d like it.

While you’re in the 10,000-sqft spa, check out some of the other treatments, as well. There are 13 types of facial available, with everything from collagen to caviar to botanical extracts.

If you need a reason to go relax on a private island that keeps even its own guests to a minimum, this is probably it.