Few spa treatments are as reviving to the jet-lagged traveler as a Turkish hammam ritual, particularly when it is performed in a setting as spectacular as the spa at Schloss Elmau in southern Bavaria, overlooking wildflower-speckled meadows and tracts of pine-forested countryside. This 32,000-square-foot facility is one of the resort’s main draws. In addition to a family area with a rooftop pool, indoor pool and fitness center, an adults-only section contains an outdoor saltwater pool facing the mountains. The spa’s immense hammam is reportedly the largest in Europe west of Istanbul. It certainly feels authentic, with platters of dates and nuts laid out beneath vaulted ceilings. In a private domed room, my therapist gave me an invigorating full-body scrub followed by a soap massage, in preparation for which I found myself covered by a warm blanket of soap bubbles more than a foot thick.
Not only does the Beach Club at Amanzo’e in Greece have a magnificent setting on a serene Aegean bay and attentive service from a young staff dressed in immaculate whites, but its guests are spoiled for choice by a pair of long, green stone-lined freshwater pools that run parallel to the sea. A separate children’s splash pool ensures tranquility, while loungers on the large surrounding deck are widely spaced to provide privacy. At the adjacent restaurant, we enjoyed a memorable lunch of grilled red shrimp on mixed greens, a griddled halloumi cheese sandwich with arugula, and the best taramasalata I’ve ever eaten.
After playing an early-morning set of tennis on one of the 18 courts at Fisher Island, a private enclave just minutes by ferry from Miami Beach, it became our habit to drive along the shoreline to savor the breeze off the ocean, and also to watch for dolphins, which were regularly to be seen cresting the light swells of Biscayne Bay. Invariably, we would also stop in at the aviary, home to a small flock of flamingos and a number of exceptionally tame macaws. Breakfast would follow at the Beach Club, where we would sit at a table overlooking the newly raked sand. Fisher Island feels calm and extremely safe. Cars are abandoned at the ferry dock, and residents and hotel guests alike drive golf carts at a sedate speed. For both children and their parents, this manicured microdot is a kind of mini-paradise.
Attention to detail proved to be the hallmark of the Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown, and nowhere was this more evident than in the bath of our refined Deluxe Room. A black marble floor and cream Venetian plaster walls created an understated but elegant setting, the highlight of which was a sculptural white freestanding limestone tub. It was a welcome sight at the end of our long walks around the nation’s capital. Perfect lighting; well-stocked towel racks; numerous convenient hooks; and a generous supply of Acqua di Parma toiletries were all much appreciated.
With a service style that combines European elegance with Asian grace, L’Abeille at the Shangri-La Paris has emerged as one of the best tables in the French capital. The intimate dining room overlooks the hotel’s newly planted private garden. Chef Philippe Labbé, who has two Michelin stars, dazzles with dishes such as steamed langoustines with Meyer lemon cream, walnut oil and roasted coffee; sea bass with ceps and figs; partridge roasted in grape leaves with spiced orange purée; and what might just be the most delicious mille-feuille in France.