Gina Hyams Author

Category Archives: spas

Mother-Daughter Spa Day at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende

My mom and I checked out the Hotel Matilda Spa this week. The Matilda, which opened a year ago, is located in the charming neighborhood near Parque Juárez on the site of the former Hotel Villa Jacaranda.

Gina and Leigh at the Hotel Matilda Spa. The artwork in the background is titled "Aránea" by Angelo Musco.

The property has been completely transformed from its Colonial roots. It’s now sleek and modern, decorated in a subtle palette designed to showcase the hotel owners’ serious collection of contemporary Latin American art, along with San Miguel’s brilliant blue sky.

Leigh enjoying lime tea and cookies in the spa relaxation room.

The intimate spa has a Zen-Mex-Moroccan vibe to it. We were treated to side-by-side pedicures in a private room that looked out on a rock garden planted with cacti, wild grasses, and bamboo. While our feet soaked in hot water, therapists Alma and Esther rubbed camellia-scented avocado oil into our hair and massaged our scalps. The spa offers many scrubs and wraps that utilize indigenous ingredients, such as nopal, coffee, and coconut.

After the pampering, we enjoyed lunch on the terrace. The restaurant has a new chef, Jorge Boneta, whose upscale menu riffs on Mexican street food. It’s a winning concept that feels just right for the Matilda, which is about world-class, yet unpretentious hospitality that’s steeped in the flavors of 21st century Mexico, as opposed to generic fancy “continental” cuisine and style.

We shared four appetizers: Yucatecan suckling pig tacos cooked in banana leaves, spicy sea bass ceviche topped with a tangle of cucumber ribbons, Zihuatanejo shrimp cocktail, and chopped salmon served in lettuce cups with garlic sauce and crispy fried leeks.

Pickled onions and steamed tacos

Shrimp cocktail

My mom and I agreed that it was the freshest seafood we’d ever tasted in San Miguel. The shrimp cocktail, in particular, was transcendent. The succulent shrimp were served in a dark beer-hot pepper sauce on a bed of citrus with whisper-thin slices of radish. My mom said, “This shrimp cocktail is so good, it makes me forget every shrimp cocktail that came before it.”

Leigh at Hotel Matilda

First Pedicure of Spring: Florida

Poolside at the Omni in Celebration, Florida

Canyon Ranch Offers Spa Renewal Days to Berkshire Residents

Canyon Ranch in Lenox is generally guarded like Fort Knox, access limited to those who can afford to spend a couple grand per day to retreat and recharge. Rumor has it it’s where Hilary Clinton went to regain her equilibrium after her defeat in the primary election. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I can report firsthand, having spent a few days there on assignment earlier this year, that it is indeed a special place.

I’ve written a lot about spas, and my first impression of Canyon Ranch was that it was too sprawling and corporate. In the end, though, the staff won me over. A lot of smart, caring, talented people work there. And, unlike some other health spas, they’re preaching good common sense. Their philosophy of health isn’t whack-a-doodle extreme. For instance, they won’t make you drink hempmilk (no offense to those who like the stuff). One leaves the ranch feeling invigorated and armed with tools for living a more joyfully engaged and healthy life. Other than the fact that the experience costs so much, what’s not to like?

They usually don’t sell day passes, but now through December 21, 2008 they’re offering Berkshire residents a day rate of $225, including a gourmet lunch, unlimited use of the facilities, lectures, classes, and one service valued at $130 (which won’t go far, but you could probably get a very nice pedicure).

If you do go, be sure to sit at the “Captain’s Table” during lunch, which is open to anyone who wants to meet new people. I had wonderful, unexpected conversations there with a guy who described his job as “nation building in a box,” a Harvard professor who was writing a book about dignity, and a young Brooklyn Hip Hop fashion designer.

Call 800-742-9000 for details and reservations.

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