July 2017 Web Exclusive: Wellness Spas Harness the Great Outdoors, Part 1

The wellness mantra “Breathe” becomes equally meaningful (and enjoyable) when restorative treatments, yoga and mindfulness practices incorporate meditative water views and fresh-air breezes. Guests seeking environments to destress are naturally drawn to ocean-, river- and lake-front spas, particularly those that embrace the great outdoors—both indoors and out—through creative wellness retreats and spa programs that take advantage of natural settings. Here’s an insider look at five spas that are creatively harnessing the restorative power of earth, wind and water to help customers cultivate equanimity and well-being. (Stay tuned for Part 2!)

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  • 4 Spa Labyrinth
    Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Spa

Waldorf Astoria Spa, El Conquistador Resort & Spa—Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The Spa: Standing atop a 300-foot bluff for over 40 years, this breathtaking resort became a Waldorf Astoria property in 2009. It’s a recreational wonderland featuring a $12 million seaside water park; championship Arthur Hills 18-hole golf course; seven tennis courts (including the island’s only grass court); seven freshwater swimming pools; 23 restaurants and bars, and a private 100-acre island for sunbathing, horseback riding, dining and more. At the center of the sprawling complex is the 26,000 square-foot Waldorf Astoria Spa, with 25 treatment rooms, couples’ suites, relaxation lounge, Tea Lounge, Ki (which means “earth spirit” in the indigenous Taino language) children’s spa, ocean view terrace, and a Yoga and Movement Studio.

How it Integrates Wellness: Waldorf Astoria Spa’s separate but like-minded holistic treatments and active programs take inspiration from the tropical setting and natural elements. The spa’s extensive menu features eight healing rituals using local ingredients—guava, pineapple, coconut—valued by the native Taino Indians. Bindi Balancing (80 min./$220) and Shirodhara (50 min./$170) Ayurvedic treatments strengthen the mind-body-spirt connection. To harness calming ocean breezes, massages are provided in ocean-view cabanas ($115-$260, + $60 for 60 min. cabana rental), a beautiful green-grass labyrinth invites complimentary walking meditation. A daily wellness calendar offers instructor-led courses including joint-friendly Aqua Parkour in the pool, a two-mile Power Walk around the hilly grounds, and the tranquil Full Moon Yoga held once a month at the cliff-top labyrinth (45 min./$25).

Outside-the-Box Thinking: “Many weddings are held on our labyrinth, so it has become a very joyful place,” says spa fitness supervisor Rita Maldonado, the holistic specialist (and former personal trainer for Mariah Carey) who developed the Spa Wellness Menu classes. “It’s now an integral part of our yoga sessions and mindful walk, and a good introduction to meditation. Full moon yoga is also held on the labyrinth with everyone facing the ocean so they can see the moonrise. Hatha yoga tries to balance opposite energies within us, between us and with the external world. In this instance, the earth, water and moon all fight for the primitive aspect of energy in the universe. So instead of doing something like sun salutations, which is very active, we do a more yin practice that is introspective and calming.”

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  • 1 Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Pool Shot 2
    Courtesy of Gurney's Seawater Spa

Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Montauk Resort—Montauk, New York  

The Spa: Situated on a pristine stretch of oceanfront real estate, Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa is a Hamptons institution and the only four-season resort in Montauk. In the sanctuary-like Seawater Spa, traditional European amenities—Roman bath, Finnish rock sauna, Russian steam room and Swiss shower—are designed to cleanse, heal and enhance guests’ overall well-being.

How it Integrates Wellness: Gurney’s makes a big splash with its world-famous indoor, ocean-fed seawater pool, featuring panoramic views of the Atlantic. It’s the only pool of its kind in North America using sand-filtered seawater, which is warmed to a consistent temperature year-round. Through a partnership with Paddle Diva, stand-up paddle board yoga sessions are held in the indoor pool. Gurney’s Montauk also collaborates with The Wellth Collective to bring top trainers and classes to the Hamptons’ private beach every weekend, including Y7, Bari Studio, City Row and Exhale, as well as trainers like Alex Kate Knight and Holly Rillinger. The seaside location inspired the spa’s Organic Seaweed facial (50 min./$130), which features a facial massage and marine masque using hand-harvested seaweed leaf strips; and the Thalasso Algae Bath hydrotherapy treatment (25 min./$65) in a tub filled with filtered, heated seawater and micronized seaweed complex to detoxify the body and tone the skin.

Outside-the-Box Thinking: “Having the only ocean-fed seawater pool in North America enables us to provide multiple health benefits for our guests, including a clearer complexion, softer skin and reduced anxiety,” says spa director Janie Marti. “Packed with healthy skin-friendly minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium, seawater is beneficial to various health conditions.”

—by Vicki Arkoff

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