America the Magical
Posted On Oct 10, 2016
Look to Alaska and Hawaii, our 49th and 50th States, for treatments that are number-one.
When a person thinks of heading to an American retreat with a world-class spa, images of majestic mountains and wildflower-bedecked trails in Arizona and California leap immediately to mind. Perhaps it’s time to push the envelope and head to one of our most recently annexed states.
Alaska may seem a bit forbidding at first blush, but the landscape is utterly breathtaking. In Girdwood—40 miles south of Anchorage—the four-star Alyeska Resort (alyeskaresort.com) sits in the Chugach Mountains where temperatures climb into the 70s and 80s during summer. Heli-skiing makes for superb sightseeing via a soaring helicopter, and glacier hikes introduce you to incredible ice caves, while naturalists help you seek out moose, grizzly bears, and bald eagles. It’s only dark from 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. in June and July, allowing you to bask in non-stop sunlight. We suggest heading out on a midnight sun alpine trek, which starts at 8 p.m. If you’re lucky, you might catch the dazzling alpenglow—a vibrant red band on the horizon, opposite the sun.
Whenever you travel to Alaska, you simply must do a little exploring. Try a day cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park, or a fishing charter that brings back the freshest halibut and salmon. You can also pan for gold at a historic gold mine for a glinting souvenir.
The resort’s sybaritic spa offers an array of indigenous treatments such as the “Glacial Facial,” which employs a healing mask containing glacial silt from the nearby Copper River. The luxurious Alaska Rainforest package includes this treatment along with full body glove exfoliation, an aromatherapy rubdown, and a Vichy massage.
Alyeska’s has many restaurant options, but the most spectacular is Seven Glaciers, a fine dining experience that begins as you take an aerial tramway up Mount Alyeska. You’ll try the freshest salmon you’ve ever tasted while taking in an awe-inspiring view of the valley, Cook Inlet, and hanging glaciers.
For an intimate hotel encounter, visit Maui’s much-lauded Hotel Wailea (hotelwailea.com), one of the chic Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Originally a private Japanese country club, Wailea is undergoing a major renovation. By September, it will feature a stylish spa, “quiet” pool, fire pits, and private cabanas.
The resort is set on a placid hill, affording incredible panoramic vistas—especially at sunset when you can watch whales in the ocean. Each unit has only four rooms, all of which are suites with glass doors that open wide to a lanai and let the lush outdoor environment enter in. Kitchens are state of the art, with refrigerators and convection ovens hidden in pull-out drawers.
Apart from Maui’s staple watersports, such as snorkeling and kite surfing, there are complimentary martial arts, cross training, and yoga classes held at different locations around the property. Mango, avocado, guava, and star fruit grow in Wailea’s grove, and hotel guests may pick the bounty. The hotel also owns its own livestock and cures all of its meats in-house. Capische, the French-Italian signature restaurant, makes full use of this farm-to-table advantage.
And beach lovers will never feel deprived of sand and surf: Hotel Wailea has a small, private oceanfront club and a sleek Mercedes limo that shuttles you to and fro.