Posts Tagged ‘spa’

Chilling Out at the Chic & Relaxed J.K. Place Capri

The deck is a great place to drink your morning coffee– or just to chillax

I’m currently in Italy where I am spending the week exploring the Amalfi Coast with my friend, Justin.

We’re currently on the island of Capri where we’re staying at the fabulous and chic JK Place Capri. Staying here feels like you’re in a private villa instead of a hotel. There isn’t a formal lobby or reception area– although the place has great staff who will pick you up in the hotel’s signature golf cart the second your ferry arrives from Naples or Positano and drive you the 5 minutes to the hotel.

The hotel’s details make you feel like you’re staying at a chic friend’s place

The island of Capri is small (a little over 4 square miles) and is both chic and charming. The center of town is packed with designer boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants. Day trippers come in by boat to check out the islands sites, but I’ve very much enjoyed staying here. 

Much like the island itself, JK Place Capri is intimate and chic with only 22 rooms and suites.

Laid back elegance is the vibe at the JK Place Capri

The gym is spacious and well equipped for the number of rooms and you feel much less guilty about indulging in the local pasta and vino after having a great workout. I’m really enjoying  the hotel’s chic, laid back elegance. The rest of the guests I’ve met are well-traveled and friendly and willing to pass on their favorite tips and picks.

The common areas all have thoughtful details and comfortable seating areas

In addition to the gorgeous bedrooms, the hotel has  a huge spa (packed with good smelling Santa Maria Novella products), a restaurant, a library stocked with a fantastic coffee table book edit in multiple languages. The common areas and rooms all have wifi. The patio is expansive and impressive and great place to enjoy the view with your morning cappuccino or a cocktail. The pool is large and there are plenty of pool chairs available.

Fresh Flowers and Art Are everywhere on the property

I’m particularly crazy about the hotel’s library, which is packed with TASCHEN books galore

Classic Rooms at the JK Place Capri start at $701.00.


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A Girls Trip Based at the Four Seasons Seattle

Welcome amenity- complete with a chocolate Seattle skyline- at the Four Seasons Seattle

I’m a big believer in all kinds of travel. I love traveling solo, exploring things at my own pace and taking as many photos as I like.  I also enjoy traveling with my husband– we met while traveling and it’s a mutual passion we’ve shared throughout our relationship.

Traveling with friends is something I’ve made an effort to do throughout my adult life– it’s a great way to bond and get into deeper conversations than are possible when we catch up just for dinner and drinks. I particularly enjoy girls trips– which are often the hardest to arrange due to busy schedules, and demands on our time (and resources) by families and careers.

I’ve always been a girl’s girl. And while I have many male friends, it’s spending time with my girlfriends, both new and old, that makes me smile the most effortlessly. Since I’ve started this blog, traveling with my girlfriends often comes with a little bit of baggage. I sometimes have to take time out from meaningful conversation to photograph room service or take a property tour because, well, that is what I do. Of course girlfriends are understanding about this stuff– that’s why they’re my girlfriends. In my real life I have several close friends who don’t have Facebook pages, Instagram accounts or “know what a twitter is.” We need actual face time to touch base. Besides, it’s rude to assume all your friends read your blog.

Modern, understated luxury at the Four Seasons Seattle

My recent girls trip to Seattle with my friend, Erica Hargreave of Roamancing, was fun and relaxing for a few different reasons, not the least of which is because our friends at The Four Seasons Seattle put us up and we got to use the hotel as our basecamp for our girls trip.

Erica and I met about a year and a half ago in Cairo where we both presented at the IOETI conference on digital tourism and have since become friends. Erica lives in Vancouver and we’d been talking about meeting up in Seattle for a girls weekend, which we finally made happen a few weeks ago after several months of planning (see above re: busy schedules).

Left: an artistic in-room lighting fixture Right: Orchids at reception

Since Erica is a digital storyteller, I didn’t have to explain why I was instagramming room service or live tweeting. She was doing it to. We sipped on room service lattes– delivered in a speedy 9 minutes after the operator estimated a window of 15-20 minutes– while simultaneously blogging in pajamas.

Testing out room service is one of the perks of the job

Girls trips differ from others because they are refreshingly devoid of war memorials and usually include a little bit of pampering. Getting time away with a girlfriend is a luxury in itself but Erica and I also got to check out the signature services offered by the Four Seasons spa (you can read my post about Spa Style here).

Bathrobes and a deep tub– appreciated luxurious touches to a girls trip

Erica enjoying the television in the mirror feature at the Four Seasons Seattle


Erica took advantage of outdoor pool every day

Erica arranged for us to check out Savor Seattle’s Gourmet Seattle Food & Cultural Tour-– something I probably wouldn’t have done if I had been planning a solo trip (where I probably would have arranged a photo tour of some kind). I was happy to go along with it and found that I really enjoyed it. Traveling with girlfriends can challenge me in a different way than other traveling companions, and it’s always good to challenge yourself. I discovered that I really enjoyed the food tour, and found plenty of photo opportunities on it.

Not only did Erica and I get to relax and reconnect while on our girls trip– we also got to try out new things and enjoyed doing it. When I suggested we order Bloody Marys from room service and have them delivered to the hotel’s hot tub, I learned that Canadians don’t have Bloody Marys as a brunch beverage staple. We also learned– from fellow hotel guests in the hot tub with us– that we should try the Bacon Bloody Mary or the Beef Bloody Mary next time.

A view of Seattle’s Great Wheel from The Four Seasons

With Mother’s Day coming up, I encourage this blog’s female readers to think about taking a girls trip– whether it’s a relaxing weekend away or just a brunch date. Reach out to your mother, your sister or a female friend and try to find the time for the two of you to relax and reconnect. Friendships are one of life’s great treasures and it’s good to make nurturing them a priority in your busy, adult life.

I think I have a few other girlfriends who would enjoy trying a bacon bloody mary. I’m going to call one of them later today.

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Spa Style at the Four Seasons Seattle

Pink orchids add to the zen chic vibe at the Four Seasons Seattle Spa

Pacific Northwest style is embraced at the Four Seasons Spa in downtown Seattle. The spa’s facilities are 6,000 square feet of understated luxury– basalt rock and glass brick are featured throughout the eight treatment rooms. The rock used in the spa interiors has even been cut in a manner to show off its fossil-like dendrites, which make you feel surrounded by nature even though you’re in the middle of downtown.

The Four Seasons spa’s signature treatments embrace the hotel’s Pacific Northwest environs. You can book a 4 1/2 hour Mount Rainier Journey or try a Deep Forest Bliss treatment complete with balsam and pine body oil. After learning that the spa was open on Sunday (win!), I scheduled an Amala rejuvenating anti-ageing facial for a Sunday morning as a final treat to my Girls Trip weekend.

The spa has a zen charm and very comfy seating. You can even order room service

Scenes from the spa

Fossil Like Dendrites in the stone are a particularly charming detail

After slipping into a fluffy bathrobe, my therapist, the lovely Christine, led me back from the orchid-filled relaxation room to where I would get my treatment. I was thrilled to learn the spa uses Skinceuticals products, which are a personal favorite of mine (I keep a bottle of their B5 Hydrating Gel in my TSA approved liquids bag). The spa has variety of eco-friendly products available for purchase when you check out, but there is no hard produce sell. The relaxed, service-centric style is pure Four Seasons, and really what luxury is all about.

A variety of beverages and a spa menu are available to spa goers

I loved the different textures: soft chairs, glass bricks and fleshy orchids

A Variety of Eco-Friendly Products are available for purchase at the Spa

I relaxed for the next 80 minutes as Christine explained the different steps of the facial. She was lovely and informative but not chatty. The mild glycolic peel was lightly tingly but effective. Halfway through the treatment Christine even took out a hand mirror to show me the lifting effects on half my face, which were surprisingly visible even during the procedure.  I left the spa glowing and excited to learn that the facial’s visible results last for about 8 days.

The spas facilities boast a steam room and fluffy robes

Glass brick adds a modern touch to the spa, and makes it man-friendly

Go ahead– say yes to a lavender infused chilled towel.

Even if you’re not a guest at the hotel property, the spa is fantastic place to book a treatment and enjoy some  fabulous Four Seasons service. You can even order room service right from the relaxation room.

The spa is a favorite among locals.  It was a perfect retreat for a girls weekend, but the vibe was modern enough that guys would be comfortable too. I can’t help thinking the treatments would be a great treat for Seattle mom on Mother’s Day.

The Spa at the Four Seasons Seattle
99 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101

Phone: 1 (206) 749-7000

Disclosure: my spa service was provided gratis from the Four Seasons. It was so fabulous I gave Christine a really big tip.

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Sublime Sri Lanka: A Stay at Ulagalla Resort

Morning at Ulagalla Resort Located in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle

During my trip to Sri Lanka, the two days and nights I was a guest at eco-friendly Ulagalla Resort that truly made me fall in love with the country. Located in Anuradhapura in the country’s cultural triangle, Ulagalla is both intimate (2o guest chalets) and grand (the property is spread out over 58 acres of rice paddies). Ulagalla is member of SLH, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, where all the properties are privately owned and small but have high standards for service.

When I arrived at Ulagalla, The smiling staff greeted me with cool towels and said, “welcome to your home.” Then I took part in a smoky and mysterious check-in ritual which involved bell ringing and incense. I was utterly charmed.

The original colonial mansion was built in 1885. It has been meticulously restored and now houses the resort’s reception area, bar & restaurant.

Lotus flowers and water lilies open in the morning on a pond in front of Ulagalla’s main building

With a spa, pool, and stables on the property you could happily spend days at Ulagalla without leaving the property. I have to recommend taking a nature hike or canoe trip with one of resort’s guides to watch the sunset at one of the two lakes which border the property.

But most of guests who stay here are cultural travelers who want to visit the nearby sites in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle.  Ulagalla is perfectly situated to be a luxurious home base for those who want to visit the ancient capital and Buddhist shrines at Anuradhapura, which is only about half an hour away (and the hotel can help arrange a car and driver/guide).  You can get breakfast at the hotel and explore the he rock cave Buddhist temples of Dambulla an hour later. Or check out the rock fortress of Sirgirya, another of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites located nearby.

The reception area at Ulagalla Resort is filled with antiques and teak seating areas

Ulagalla’s main building and restaurant are located in a 150 year old old exquisitely restored colonial mansion.  The 20 guest chalets (eaeh with a private plunge pool) on the property are spread out over the resort’s grounds which stretch over lush working rice paddies between two lakes. As fabulous as Ulagalla’s buildings and property are, it’s the genuine warmth of the staff that makes this place special in that rare way that is far harder to describe than gloating about it’s silver LEED certification. The  local ladies and gentleman who work at the resort all share a special spirit. They are perfect brand ambassadors- pleasant, helpful and understated. They are proud of Sri Lanka and Ulagalla and simply delightful to be around. I really enjoyed chatting with several different staff members during my stay. 

The whimsical wine tree in the restaurant at Ulagalla was one of my favorite touches. If only Chateauneuf-du-Pape grew on trees!

I really liked the “bio-clock” dining attitude at Ulagalla- there are no set meal times. The hotel’s management knows that it’s guests have traveled far to get here and might be experience jet lag or simply be hungry and tired at odd hours. You eat when you are hungry. It’s that simple. The hotel accomodates the

The reception area at Ulagalla resort

The zen check-in ritual at Ulagalla was enchanting and beautiful

Warm Sri Lankan smiles and hospitality are everywhere at Ulagalla. The staff is proud of their country’s cultural heritage and happy to show it off. I really enjoyed chatting with whichever member of the staff was driving me around the grounds in golf cart.

Leaving Ulagalla it’s this fellow I will miss the most

Ulagalla’s staff is genuinely warm. This charming fellow used to work heavy construction when the property was being built. The hotel’s general manager, Lalin De Mel, recognized his special spirit and felt he would be a great addition to the staff, so he was asked to stay on and work at the property.

“I won the lottery with my first hotel job a bit late in life,” he told me. I think the guests at Ulagalla who get to experience this sort of special charm are the real winners.

The building that houses Ulagalla’s restaurant and bar once belonged to a village chieftain

Ulagalla’s 25 individual guest chalets are spread out over the property. You can travel the grounds on a golf cart, by bicycle (two come with each chalet) or even horseback (there are stables on the property).

Ulagalla is green & gorgeous. Nature lovers can enjoy the wildlife and scenery right on the property. I saw peacocks and monkeys during my stay. You can also take a canoe ride on one of the two lakes which border the property, or a nature hike.

Early morning view at Ulagalla. Birds and peacocks abound.

Ulagalla is located about 3 1/2 hours by car from Columbo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). You can also arrange transfers by helicopter if you want to avoid the bumpy roads. Rates at Ulagalla start at about $403 per night and can be booked through SLH.

Stay tuned for future posts with more details on this very special resort.

Editor’s Note: My stay at Ulagalla was sponsored by SLH and Ulagalla Resort

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Sri Lanka’s Stylish Airport Hotel: The Wallawwa: a Hipstamatic Photo Essay

The lawn and lawn furniture at The Wallawwa

The words “airport hotel” rarely bring glee to travelers. Usually they are code for  generic chain hotel room with adequate water pressure and all too often, overpriced wifi and food that can best be described as “edible.”

The Wallawwa, located only 20 minutes from Sri Lanka’s Colombo (CMB) airport, is a property special enough to change a well-seasoned traveler’s attitude about airport hotels.

The Wallawwa is a converted colonial mansion which been stylishly converted into a boutique hotel catering to culturally minded travelers to Sri Lanka. Colombo may be the current Capitol but it’s not a necessary stop if you are interested in visiting the country’s cultural riches.

One of the zen touches at The Wallawwa

Scenes from the outdoor courtyard at The Wallawwa

There are 17 rooms and suites at The Wallawwa. There is also a spa and a gorgeous pool tucked under the shade of an overgrown tree which is a popular spot for cooling off after a long day of touring the sites.

The Wallawwa’s fabulous jungle pool is one of the property’s many charms

The Wallawwa is also civilized, with complementary tea served in the afternoons and a stash of lawn games if you’d like to play a few rounds of croquet.

Left: the serene entry to the on-site spa Right: a seating area in the interior courtyard

The Wallawwa’s Dining Room is open, bright and as fab as the dishes it serves

The property has a few whimsical amenities, like comfy bean bags in the rooms and a Rubik’s Cube on the nightstand which are appreciated if jetlag hits in the middle of the night.

There is complementary wifi in the communal areas and it’s rather speedy. The bathrooms are fab, especially that in the Mountbatten Suite, which boasts a deep rough luxe tub and spacious shower.

Left two: Images from The Mountbatten Suite  Right: One of the Communal seating areas

The bathroom of the Mountbatten Suite boast a huge rough luxe tub

The food is great, with a wide array of local specialities and colonial standards that hit the spot.

Most important in the service. The staff at The Wallawwa are accustomed to middle-of-the-night arrivals and departures and had no problem handling my last minute change of plans. They also hooked me up with a great driver/guide who took me on a day tour of Colombo.

Rates at The Wallawwa start at $215.

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