Travel Splash: Luxury Hotels with the Coolest Pools!

In this hot summer weather, we all want to cool off.  Swimming pools are a standard amenity at most hotels, but here are some of my favorite places to make a splash!

1. Mardan Palace Hotel, Turkey

The Mardan Palace Hotel in Antalya, Turkey boasts the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean (fits 1,000 guests) and is touted as one of the most elite luxury hotels in Europe. Beyond the sinfully sumptuous suites and jaw-dropping interiors of gold leaf, crystal, and Italian marble, there are also ten dining spots, 17 bars, a lavish spa and a sunken aquarium full of exotic fish. 9,000 tons of white sand was flown in from Egypt for the beach alone. 24/7 personal butler service is also included.


2. Grace Santorini Hotel

This 20-room hotel is carved into the cliff-face 300m above Santorini’s volcanic caldera. The infinity pool’s jagged outline echoes the zigzag paths that criss-cross Santorini’s sheer terrain. Santorini’s hotel rooms are invariably front-loaded to face the view, leaving residents exposed to passers-by. To ensure privacy, fragments of volcanic rock are positioned in the windows of four rooms, interspersed with apertures that provide glimpses to the sea. The feature echoes a local architectural technique, more commonly used for retaining walls, in which minimal amounts of mortar are used, leaving gaps between the stonework. By exposing the stones and exaggerating the spaces between them, this light-filtering screen allows privacy and ventilation and casts dappled shadows as the sun goes down.


3.  Costa Rica: The Zephyr Palace Mansion

The Zephyr Palace is the ideal place to rest and relax in a private environment. Enjoy total access to the property: Infinity swimming pool, discotheque with terrace, the art gallery and seven thematic suites. Allow yourself to be transported to the time of the Pharaohs, feel the Napoleon Bonaparte™ epoch or enjoy the magic of the 20s. Photo provided by: VFM Leonardo Inc.


4. Maldives: Beach House Iruveli

Beach House Iruveli — city, country

Your accommodation options are out of this world here: from Water Villa to Beach Villa, Ocean Villa, Beach Suite, Grand Water Pavillion, and Grand Beach Pavilion. Turquoise waters surround guests and make the decision to hop into your private infinity pool or straight into the sea a more complicated one than you might have anticipated.

Speaking of decision-making, check out this list of activities: deep-sea fishing, diving and snorkeling, bungee trampoline, kids’ club, tennis courts, recreational center, and more… a trip to Beach House Iruveli promises to be one relaxing vacation that does anything but bore you.


5. Hawaii: Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort

Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort — city, country

What does a $50 million renovation do. See for yourself at Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa. Many of the improvements you can see as you swim through nine free-form pools towards the grotto bar to enjoy a Mai-Tai before riding the “river” back to the big pool. This voyage through the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

Once you’ve navigated one of the most sensational pools in Maui, knocked off a game of tennis, and played a round of golf on all three premier golf courses, consider a treatment in the Spa Grande – one of the largest spas in Hawaii. After that, breeze past the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (aka Humu Humu) floating seafood restaurant and pick the lobster you want for dinner right out of the lagoon.

Win-Win Wednesday: July 10, 2013: Barcelona, Seattle, and Morocco

It is Win-Win Wednesday!! We will be posting luxurious special deals all day long!!!

Summer in Seattle!

Fairmount Olympic Hotel

Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle is one of the city’s most illustrious – and luxurious – treasures. Stay from now until September 30, 2013 and enjoy 20% off the best available rate.

The Italian Renaissance architecture of The Fairmont Olympic Hotel brings European style to Seattle visitors. The luxuriously decorated rooms, featuring burnished woods, ornate fabrics, and cushy beds convey pure Continental elegance. Discover French-inspired Northwest cuisine at The Georgian, adorned with Palladian windows and enormous chandeliers. And at Shuckers, Seattle’s oldest oyster bar, sample 13 kinds of oysters prepared nine different ways, as well as local beers only available in this region.

With an historical ballroom, featuring a vast foyer, and truly amazing chandeliers, the Fairmont is host to many prestigious events and occasions. And being in the heart of Seattle, you’re close to all the famous attractions, including Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.


Sizzling Spain, Barcelona Beauty!

Barcelona-Gran Hotel La Flordia

Soak up northern Spain’s distinct Catalan culture while reveling in spectacular views overlooking Barcelona and the Mediterranean at the Gran Hotel La Florida. Book 3 nights or more at Gran Hotel Florida a minimum 20 days in advance and enjoy your 3rd night FREE! Yea Baby!

Built in 1925, this landmark hotel was a 1950s home away from home for such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Rock Hudson, and James Stewart. Completely restored to its original glory in 2005, the Gran Hotel La Florida is today the ultimate in old-time European luxury.

Throw open your curtains to reveal spectacular views of Barcelona below and the Pyrenees beyond. Or enjoy the hilltop vista from the privacy of your spacious outdoor terrace, complete with sumptuous sun beds and your own jacuzzi.

It would be unheard of to visit this ultra-chic city without browsing the fashion boutiques of Barcelona’s famous Passeig de Gràcia, lined with opulent nineteenth century landmarks butting up alongside ultra-modern buildings by celebrated local architect, Antonio Gaudi.

After strolling Barcelona’s storied streets, return to the Gran Hotel La Florida for a feast of local Catalan cuisine, followed by a romantic nightcap at the Miramar bar overlooking the twinkling lights of Barcelona.


More for Less in Morocco!

Morocco-Kasbah Tamadot

A purposeful sense of mystery surrounds this walled retreat in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. Kasbah Tamadot Hotel only reveals itself to the lucky few passing through its heavy wooden doors…yet the luck expands now offering the 5th night FREE!

Golden hues amplify the fragrance of flowers and fresh herbs hanging in the air around the 27 bedrooms and suites of Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot hotel. Whether you choose to stay in the heart of the retreat, or follow the paths through the herb gardens to the ten luxury Berber Tented Suites, you will be delighted to discover traditional Moroccan furnishings and antiques as well as rare artifacts from all over the world adorning the walls.

True to form, this Virgin Limited Edition property offers a balance of leisurely activities and more exciting endeavors that extend far beyond a dip in of the pool or a quick tennis match on the private courts. Everything from 4×4 adventures to mule rides in the mountains – and even a hot air balloon ride over Marrakech – is available to guests.

And of course, one would be remiss to visit North Africa and not experience a Hammam – a traditional Moroccan skin cleansing ritual.

Finding Real Bliss in Bali

Bliss refers to the experience of when one’s Dharma is fully realized and assimilated into daily action.   This blending of mind and spirit brings forth the real Joy that exists inside each one of us.  Most yogis know that when on their mats, this joy is easy to find…clearly this is why we float around in a “yoga glow” just after a practice session!  But cultivating this Bliss into each of our daily activities is a sought out goal for many of us.

Bliss is indeed found within, yet many times, one may embark  on retreat to create enough sacred space for cultivating our sleeping state of Joy.  “This” is the essence of a LUX World Travel Retreat.

Finding Bliss in Bali

Finding Bliss in Bali: September 7-18, 2013

Our next Women’s Retreat takes us to Bali for an Authentic Wellness Experience.  This retreat is so extraordinary, it is being featured in the next issue of Asia Spa Magazine!

This women’s retreat is designed to be an absolute adventure in perfect wellness, and incorporates the practices of yoga, meditation, the ancient healing practice of mudras, an enormous sampling of included Ayurvedic treatments, with adventure, touring, cultural events, and your choice to either diving or snorkel while retreating on the Island of the Gods.

Highlights include:   SEE RETREAT DETAILS

* 6 Nights Oceanfront Luxury Accommodations at Wellness Resort with all meals
* 4 Nights Private Secluded Accommodations at Ubud with daily breakfast, 2 lunches and 1 dinner
* 8 Ayurvedic Treatments
* 2 Spa Treatments
* 2 Diving or Snorkeling Trips
* Sunrise Dolphin Sail
* Daily Yoga and Meditation
* Rice Paddies & Jungle Trekking
* Down Cycling Tour with Lunch
* Day Tour of Ubud & Volcano
* Balinese Cooking Experience
* Cultural Ceremonies
* Spiritual Wisdom Teachings

Ayurvedic Wellness

Ayurvedic Wellness

Ayurveda, the “science of life and the art of healing”, is the world’s most ancient holistic health philosophy and system that covers every aspect of wellbeing: health, beauty, food, spirit, sex and living in harmony with each other and with nature.

For over 5000 years in India, Ayurveda has been the practical basis of treating the root causes of many health disorders and diseases, often giving a real cure rather than temporary relief. Life based on the principles of Ayurveda resist ill health, arrests premature aging and retains youthfulness.

The core objective of Ayurveda is to keep a healthy person healthy, not only physically but also mentally, morally and spiritually. Health begins with the fitness and the strength of the body, deepens to emotional stability, leading to intellectual clarity and wisdom, and through this to spirituality.

Amazing foot rub and bath!  Pure Heaven!

Amazing foot rub and bath! Pure Heaven!

The philosophy of Ayurveda treats the body, mind, and soul as inter-related and in doing so harmonizes the biological, physical, and neurological systems. The understanding that each one of us is a unique individual is important in targeting Ayurveda treatments to address specific health conditions. Ayurvedic massage is a core component of the treatment. Massage opens the body’s energy paths; stimulates and enhances circulation of body fluids, activating the lymphatic system; regulates the digestive systems; strengthens muscles, bones, and blood vessels; improves skin and body tone, and revitalizes the body’s self healing mechanisms.

Diving and Snorkeling at the Island of the Gods...Bali Bliss

Diving and Snorkeling at the Island of the Gods…Bali Bliss

We will also enjoy the beaches, snorkeling, diving, and embrace meditation and yoga…no matter your level of experience, our guides help us begin, or takes further inside on our journey toward Spiritual Awareness.

Cultivate your Bliss with us…

September 7-18, 2013.   Only $2980 per person, based on double occupancy!

See Registration Details

Remember what is Forgotten…You.

When it is time to pause your frenetic pace and rediscover senses dulled by the incessant demands of life, there is a place called Maia Luxury Resort & Spa.  Here in Seychelles, I invite you to awaken to your lively spirit by indulging your mind and spirit through spa and well-being practices. The tranquility of Maia offers you more than a place of refuge. It offers you a resort of rediscovery.


Bird song. Waters falling down moss covered granite rocks. Gentle winds brushing leaves. These will be the only things to break your revere in our Balinese-style Spa.

Three individual, private open-air pavilions are separated from each other by natural rock formations. Each spacious 120m2 pavilion features its own garden, changing rooms and showers.

Besides world-class therapy and beauty treatments using La Prairie products, the  highly trained staff can offer you more than just skin-deep relief by guiding you through accompanied yoga, self-Shiatsu and Qi Gong sessions.

The fitness centre provides the latest “Excite” equipment and a Kinesis wall. Privately trained therapists offer intuitive massages and an assortment of packages, including special Kids Only treatments such as the banana leaf wrap with hydrating gel for sunburn.


An extensive range of treatments is available. Pamper yourself with an outdoor bath surrounded by the natural rock formation of Maia Spa, an exfoliation, skin smoothing, polishing and toning, or a hand, foot and hair massage and natural, nourishment treatment. You may choose to have your treatments individually or as a couple. Imagine the Maia Signature Massage – a unique fusion of consistent pressure, long strokes and gentle stretching, blended with a soothing rhythmical flow of delivery to ease muscle tension. Or try the ‘Twenty Dancing Fingers’ massage – a traditional art with two therapists using firm techniques applied by thumb pressure, deep presses and gripping techniques along the meridians to release energy and improve circulation… All to the soporific sounds of birdsong and natural waterfalls.


Maia is about creating the place, the space and the experiences you need to reinvigorate senses dulled by time and stress. Awaken a tired body, enlighten a dim mind and rekindle a dead spirit.



Enjoy the benefits of Hatha Yoga, Qi Gong and Self-Shiatsu in the peaceful, open air and natural surroundings of Maia Spa. Group classes of these special practices are offered to compliments of Maia, although you can also opt for personal instruction in your own villa, at a fee.


Those who are familiar with Qi Gong will know that it refers to a wide variety of traditional, cultivation practices that involve methods of accumulating, circulating, and working with qi (or energy) within the body. Qi Gong is practiced for health maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical profession, a spiritual path and/or component of Chinese martial arts. Maia’s professional staff will guide you through this gentle practice to reduce stress levels. Private lessons booked can be held either in Maia Spa or in the privacy of your villa.


Hatha comes from combining the two Sanskrit terms “ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. When the two components of the word are placed together, “hatha” means “forceful”, implying that powerful work must be done to purify the body. Yoga means to yoke, or to join two things together, hence hatha yoga is meant to join together our sun (masculine, active) energy with our moon (feminine, receptive) energy, thus producing balance and greater power in an individual. Our professional staff will guide you through this purifying practice to enhance your energy levels and create a far-reaching sense of wellbeing. Private lessons booked can be held either in Maia Spa or in the privacy of your villa.


Shiatsu, the Japanese form of bodywork, means ‘finger pressure’, and is sometimes described as a ‘finger pressure massage’. Like acupuncture, Shiatsu is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine, where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi (pronounced ‘chee’) through the body.  The professional staff will show you how to use finger and palm pressure to energize pathways (meridians) to improve the flow of qi, relieving stresses which may have built up over time. Private lessons booked can be held either in Maia Spa or in the privacy of your villa.

Sending as Always…the Best in Wellness for you to Enjoy!

Blessings~ Melinda

What is Wellness?

Wellness is the constant process of change and growth leading one to an existence of experiencing harmony within all levels of Being. There are many interrelated dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental, and even occupational. Each dimension is equally important in the pursuit of optimum well-being.

A wellness-oriented lifestyle encourages you to adopt habits and behaviors that promote better health and an improved quality of life. Therefore, wellness is a positive approach to living, and emphasizes the whole person. It is the integration of the body, mind, and spirit; and the appreciation that everything you do, think, feel, and believe really does affect your state of well-being.

When we get “out of whack,” it is time to replenish and restore.  Ironically, however; many times being removed from a state of wellness creates stress, and the more stress we have, gets us into a slippery slope taking us further away from finding our perfect state of harmony.  Stress makes it difficult to focus, perform simple tasks, sleep, and as a result we are less productive.  Often, these conditions push us to a point of no return, as we tell ourselves little pleasures such as exercise, or yoga class, or down-time will be unproductive because only completing tasks will reduce the stress…when it is actually that pattern of “scattered grasping” toward goals and deadlines that is causing the stress.  Make sense?

Does this every happen to you?  ; )

These are all signs that what we need to do, is find our balance again so all elements of our life fall back into place.

When some of my clients contact me after having reached the “breaking point,” it take passionate care to find the perfect destination, spa get-away, yoga retreat, or adventure holiday for them.  Depending on their passions, and preferred style of travel, I will include anything from yoga, diving, snorkeling, meditation, and multiple spa programs to bring my clients back to a balanced existence.  But the key to staying in balance, is knowing when it is time to take such a break and invest in yourself!

Wellness travel also has a huge range of descriptions these days.  For some that would involve a detox retreat, for others…time to unplug from EVERYTHING electronic and replenish in complete communion with nature. Yoga in Bali.  Cooking in Italy.  A week with girlfriends in Greece on a beach and spa holiday.

I love my job.  My passion is Wellness.  And, this allows me to passionately find my clients the perfect travel plan to bring them back to bliss…back to again realizing their true state of Self, which is that they are…we all are: pure, perfect and complete.  This “remembering” who we truly are can only occur when we take time to pause and again settle into a place of bliss or Harmony.  This is the “place” I send my clients.  A fantastic little place, found in countless locations all over the world called, personal Bliss.

Om Shanti ~ Melinda





Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort

The newly renovated Frenchman’s Reef is a stunning showpiece of architectural splendour with sweeping vistas of Charlotte Amalie, one of the Caribbean’s most majestic yacht harbors.  Next door, Morning Star tempts with ninety-six rooms and sea views of panoramic paradise.

Photo credit: M. Reffe

Size Matters
Brand-reliable and fresh from a US$48 million five-month facelift, Frenchman’s Reef is open for business and the shining star in St. Thomas.  Sitting pretty on a hilltop overlooking soft sands and aquamarine waters, the largest property in St. Thomas is making quite a splash with refined Caribbean décor in island colors of sand beige, sunset sage and ocean blue, resort-wide wireless internet, gourmet eateries , funky bars, expansive spa  and the Marriott trademarked and oh-so-comfy Revive brand bedding and fluffer  pillows . “ The renovations have really opened up the resort, said Jose Gonzalez, general manager, “ letting in more sunlight through wide open spaces and our new air  conditioning system uses sea water which is not only good for the environment but provides fresher air for our guests .”

New infinity pools with Jacuzzis, water sports galore and sun loungers are relaxation par excellence while a kids-only pool and splash zone is tops with the younger set.
Both properties share restaurant and sports facilities and with shuttle service between the two, the complex is a one-stop-shopping vacation.  Ferries make the five-minute run across the harbor to downtown Charlotte Amalie for meandering and dining. Photo credit: M. Reffe
Whet Your Appetite
Wake up with the sun at the Aqua Terra Oceanfront Grill and an all-American breakfast buffet with an omelette station, creamy grits and delectable waffles along with healthy choices like fresh fruit and platters of smoked salmon. For a cocktail as the sun sets, the Sunset Bar on the beach is the go-to-spot. For a quick bite, grab one of three open-air tables and enjoy a freshly brewed espresso at the Presto Market.  Fresh pastries and sandwiches fit the bill while the view from the high back chairs are the perfect perch to watch the boats gracefully glide in the harbor as the winds breeze through the top of the stately coconut palms. For a nightcap with friends, the Rum Bar showcases fine spirits and picturesque views and for 24/7 balcony dining, room service delivers a wide array of treats from apple cinnamon French toast and a Cuban sandwich to dinner of  grilled snapper with a glass of a superb Italian Pinot Grigio.
At Morning Star, Coco Joe’s is a spirited affair with steel drum bands, nachos with grilled jalapenos, juicy burgers and if it’s Saturday night, it must be the seafood buffet chockablock with lobster, shrimp, oysters and a host of sides.

The culinary piece de resistance, Havana Blue is a divine medley of upscale Latin-fusion cuisine in an open air restaurant with billowy blue curtains. Described by the owners Nicole and Eric Horstmeyer as ‘experiential dining’, the menu includes creative cocktails like the Dirty Chica cocktail that mixes vodka with jalapeno-soaked onions and hot pepper-infused olives and a black cherry mojito that aims to please. Appetizers from crispy wonton shells stuffed with lobster, shrimp and roasted corn salsa or the owner’s favorite, Cuban sliders with pulled pork, manchego cheese and blueberry-flavored mustard set the stage for a fabulous dinner.  Sexy sides like creamed spinach with hot peppers add zing to the lemongrass glazed sea bass, chili-blackened tuna and a perfectly prepared steak with cilantro mash.
Medley of Massages
From manicures and massages to pedicures and paraffin wax treatments, the brand new Lazule Sea Spa is a guilty pleasure that delivers. With eleven treatment rooms, sauna and spa pool with cabanas, relaxation never had it this good.
For those preferring the privacy of their own suite,  in- room massages are popular with showstoppers that include a Sea Mud massage for tired muscles, Caribbean Sea Scrub for silky smooth skin and an Island Detox Body Wrap to fix everything else that needs fixing.  “Couples can choose their own treatment and we’ll tailor it for a side-by-side experience, “said Garth Hudson, spa director.

Saying I Do
Five thousand couples over four decades have said “I Do” at the resort and so far in 2011, five hundred couples have taken the plunge. “We can do eight weddings a day on the beach but only two at sunset, “smiles Jessica Klein, wedding coordinator, “the most popular venues range from seafront to our sea cliff gazebo or one of our grand ballrooms.”  Photo credit: M. Reffe

A sign of the changing times, an increase in ‘second time around’ and ‘third time lucky’ weddings are big business along with a hike in cruise ship weddings with the ceremony performed on land and the reception held on the high seas.   “We arrange every detail, all couples have to do is go to the courthouse in St Thomas to sign their registration papers, relax in one of our day rooms papers and say I Do on the beach, ” adds Jessica Klein.

Posted by Melanie Reffes, Caribbean Editor

Palaces, Tigers and Wellness! Oh my…it’s India!

India hosts thousands of years of history, a spectrum of exotic cultures, amazing temples and palaces, a myriad of landscapes from snow-peaked mountains to lush jungles.  India will enchant any first time visitor or world traveler.

India challenges the mind and soothes the soul with a menu of spirituality that provides both ancient metaphysical healing and wellness, sacred wisdom, and state of the art physical wellness programs. Expect to be shopping in the markets one day, riding an elephant the next, then watching the faithful step into the waters of the Ganges.  A trip to India requires knowledge of the land, culture and terrain. This month at LUX World Travel….we will explore all that India has to offer!

India is a land of contrasts and contradictions.  Crowded places full of noise, will subside as you venture to quiet refuges in forests are on any pristine beach.  Festivals emerge year-round seated in 5000 years of history.

Charming villages give way to vibrant bustling cities of enterprise, which produce more movies in one month, than Hollywood does all year!  If you enjoy color and images…India is a photographer’s Paradise!  India in fact is a destination for all senses.