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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Spas relieve meeting stress

By Daniel Aubry, courtesy Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, N.Y.
The Mohonk Mountain House, recently named the 
No. 1 spa resort in the country by Conde Nast Traveler, takes a direct approach.

“Many of our guests come from New York City, and many of them are stressed,” said Katie Martello, assistant director of marketing. “So we developed a series of treatments that meet their specific needs.”

Whether the problem is aching muscles, lack of sleep or sore feet from high heels, there’s arnica oil, warm water, deep-tissue massage or a stretching routine designed to help. A treatment called Texting Tension Tamer tackles the shoulder, neck and arm pain that often incapacitates multitaskers. Treatments are given in a three-story spa with a green-roof patio that opened in 2005.

Mohonk Mountain House has been a place to relax for 143 years. Its early guests were called “longstayers” because they fled the cities for long, lazy summers in the country.

Although much has changed over the years, the 267-room property continues to calm.

Scattered throughout the hotel are 600 rocking chairs, the original muscle relaxant. Guests can comfort themselves with a sundae or a milkshake until 11 p.m. at the soda fountain. Windows open to let in cool mountain air, and good lamps make reading a pleasure.

Trails lit by tiny lights wind around the hills of the 2,200-acre preserve that surrounds Mohonk, whose castlelike edifice stretches an eighth of a mile.

Meetings have also been part of life at Mohonk since the first International Arbitration Conference, a precursor of the United Nations, was held there.

Recommended for groups of 40 or fewer, the hotel has 14 meeting rooms, including a Victorian parlor with Sultan’s corners for private conversations and another that overlooks the lake. A separate Conference House has windows all around, and its large meeting room can be divided into three parts, each of which seats 35. Its vestibule and the hotel’s main porch are perfect for receptions.


Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
Amelia Island, Fla.
The quarter-mile driveway into the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, canopied with live oaks, is the first clue that the resort exudes the tranquility and charm we’ve come to know as “Southern.”

Each of the recently renovated guest rooms in the 446-room property has a private balcony and a view of the resort’s private beach. The eight-story hotel is the tallest building on Amelia Island, so its views are among the barrier island’s best.

With 27 treatment rooms, the Ritz-Carlton’s spa can schedule just about any group for treatments, including its signature “Heaven in a Hammock.”

During meeting registration, spa attendants sometimes set up a hammock and demonstrate this fully clothed treatment; meeting attendees appreciate the chance to sample the spa’s offering and relieve some travel-related tension.

“When a group plays golf,” said Kevin Donohue, director of sales, “we can do some reflexology before and after with those sometime golfers who may ache after a round of 18 holes.”

The AAA Five Diamond resort’s 48,000 square feet of meeting space, located in one wing of the hotel, is flexible enough to handle groups of 15 to 1,000, although Donohue calls a meeting of 200 to 250 “a very nice size for this resort.”

The resort’s Salt restaurant is one of  three AAA Five Diamond restaurants in Florida. Salt is known for the salt infusions it makes and uses to season food.

Groups can learn to make these salt infusions, Donohue said. “It’s interactive and fun with maybe a little wine. You take salts from around the world and infuse them with flavors like black roasted garlic, then try them out on food.”