Urban Escapes
City centers and quick drives to suburban getaways are at the forefront of innovative wellness.
With limitations on travel still in effect, spa and wellness destinations closer to home are getting creative with their offerings to help those looking to build their fortitude, strengthen their immune system, and improve their overall lifestyle. From putting Peloton bikes in rooms (Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston) to The Mirror Gym by Lululemon in seven new Wellness Suites (Andaz 5th Avenue, New York), spaces are being transformed to enhance how we move, sleep, eat, and connect. Here, four properties that are taking mental and physical health services to the next level. —Deborah Frank


Touchless Experiences

“It’s about technology,” explains Tammy Pahel, vice president of spa and wellness operations at Carillon Miami, “and anxiety. Before the pandemic, guests would walk into the spa lobby and give a sigh of relief that they arrived. Now, they stop and think, ‘Should I do this? Should I get a massage?’ When it comes down to physically doing it, to being alone with a masseuse, another human being in a 10-by-12 room, people experience a tremendous amount of anxiety. Many opt for the rooftop massage, but when I launched the touchless program, people began buying 10- and 12-packs of sessions, because they want wellness but still can’t cross the line to actually have a treatment. Touchless is the perfect solution.”

Hands-free therapies have increased in popularity this year at a variety of spas, but Pahel has elevated the concept to a higher dimension at Carillon. With 70,000 square feet of space, it wasn’t difficult for her to bring in $1.5 million worth of the most technologically advanced equipment on the market to set up programs and circuits aimed at healing whatever ails you. If guests have a specific focus, the spa’s director of health and wellness, a registered nurse, will walk them through the options and recommend a tailor-made circuit. Otherwise, an extensive menu of services is available to choose from and many take just 15 minutes to experience, but offer long-lasting benefits, especially if done more than once.

A few standouts are: Vibroacoustic Electro Magnetic and Infrared Therapy, or VEMI, which involves lying on a chaise that’s akin to a zero-gravity lounger and falling into a deep meditative state while static EMF radiation is removed from your cells; Prism Light Pod, which emits a cold red laser that shrinks fat cells, accelerates collagen production, reduces oxidative stress, relieves joint pain, and contributes to muscle recovery; and the most booked treatment, RASHA, developed for NASA astronauts to harmonize the autonomic nervous system, which translates to balancing the brain and calming the mind.

The variety of treatments allows guests to book their own mini wellness retreat while still making time for work and the beach. “If you do any of these one time,” says Pahel, “you will feel good no matter what. If you want long-term results, do any of these for a lasting effect on your life.” Packages start at $299 for the Sleep Well circuit; carillonhotel.com


Sensorial Journeys and Resident Healers

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are legendary for offering exceptional spa services worldwide, and its Philadelphia and downtown New York properties are no exception. The spa directors at these two hotels have recognized the growing needs of guests for mental recalibration and have created programs that focus on healing the mind.

For those new to the art of energy work, Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia offers the Seasons of Chakras Sensorial Journey (from $225), a beginner’s immersion into the ancient practice of chakra balancing. It’s a 60-minute treatment inspired by the body’s seven chakras, or energy centers, and it involves massage, aromatherapy, and sound vibrations. The spa has crystals embedded in its walls and crystal singing bowls are used to activate each chakra. Essential oils are used for a leg and foot massage that awakens the immune system; a lower back massage that alleviates stress and fatigue; and a stomach and chest massage that stimulates antioxidants and supports emotions. A forehead and scalp massage tops off the mental and spiritual well-being of the experience, which is followed by a rich masala chai tea infused with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and nutmeg. Guests are sent home with a bottle of the scent that resonated strongest with them.

For the cosmically curious, the Resident Healers Program at Four Seasons New York Downtown has expanded to include an astrologer and a hypnotist. A session with each requires total open-mindedness to reap the benefits of what they have to offer. Renowned astrologer Rebecca Gordon has been practicing the art since she was 14 and has been a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show. According to Gordon, knowing your star sign is a guide to wellness emotionally and psychologically. “I am passionate about bringing astrology to more interdisciplinary areas,” she says. “A lot of my work has been about making it part of our lifestyle, and for the spa world, integrating it. Addressing the inside as well as the outside of our bodies for a more holistic approach.” After a reading (from $380), Gordon recommends guests go into the infra-red sauna or have a massage to let all the new knowledge sink in. “You need to let it germinate,” she explains.

Nicole Hernandez, otherwise known as The Traveling Hypnotist, guides guests through bespoke Hypnotic Journeys that help unpack and release anxiety, fear, and bad habits. It’s important to leave time to decompress after a session ($285) in which revelations come forth and emotions surface. “It’s an alternative healing,” says Hernandez. “We now understand so much more about the brain’s neuropathways.” Each session combines imaginative, sensorial experiences with practical tools to interrupt old patterns of thinking. fourseasons.com


Health Coaching

When Washington, Connecticut’s iconic Mayflower Inn & Spa became part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, its sweeping transformation of interior aesthetics by designer Celerie Kemble wasn’t the only big news. The reimagined country home partnered with THE WELL New York, the Manhattan-based private wellness club known for its integrative health care. The collaboration has been a win-win for both the inn and the club since the club’s city location two hours away had to shut its doors during the pandemic and only just announced its reopening on April 8.

THE WELL’s takeover of Mayflower’s 20,000-square-foot spa created a country escape for its members and an innovative program of East-meets-West practices for the renowned spa’s signature treatments. One such signature that was a staple on the menu was forest bathing, which is now paired with a craniosacral treatment for a powerful bodywork experience outdoors called Forest Craniosacral (from $350). Mayflower Inn’s 58 acres of woods and trails allows for the session to take place under a canopy of trees for a connection with nature like no other. Every booking begins with an opt-in, pre-arrival health coaching session tailored to the amount of time a guest can spend at the spa. It’s like having a functional medicine detective figure out the therapy and energy work you require to put you on the path toward optimal health. aubergeresorts.com/mayflower


Mental Clarity

The West Coast version of a wellness club is West Hollywood’s Remedy Place, founded by Dr. Jonathan Leary, whose private practice is widely known for its holistic approach to natural healing. “My practice was maxed out,” Leary explains. “I was going into this bubble where I was seeing only the one percent of the one percent. I can’t change health care seeing one patient at a time. I want to radically change the way society integrates education into wellness. And I wanted to create a place that was communal in nature, so that one can incorporate wellness into their social life, because the two can and should go hand in hand.”

Since the pandemic, however, people have created new regimens at home. “They are comfortable with that,” says Leary, “and we are not a gym. The next pandemic is this mental health problem that you will see: depression. Lack of human interaction and coming back to social interaction. Our two biggest priorities are education and mental health.”

Mental clarity and sleep offset life’s stressors, according to Leary. “The epitome of health is bringing yourself in balance,” he says. So Leary and his team of holistic and medical experts have designed a menu of experiences based on the seven elements of balance: mind, oxygen, movement, nutrients, cold, heat, and compression. The goal is to teach members how to integrate body maintenance and self-care into their daily routine. Recovery specialists are available to help pair guests to the elements that best suit their personal stressors. Some of the services offered include Hyperbaric Chamber Oxygen Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage Massage, and Ice Bath with Breath Work.

Membership is capped at 200, but Remedy Place isn’t completely private. Non-members can book classes and services a la carte as well. “An exclusive club defeats the purpose of helping people,” says Leary. “We want everyone to be able to come in.” With that in mind, Leary is opening a second LA location later this year. $495 per month; remedyplace.com