We made it!

Now how can we relax? Our travel expert advises post-New Year's travelers on spa trips, Berkshire respites and Caribbean honeymoons.


Donald D. Groff
January 6, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

Sometime in January or February, I want to take a long weekend -- at least -- at a spa. How can I locate reasonably priced spa locations?

You'll have plenty of company as many people shift into the post-holiday, post-Y2K recovery mode.

A thorough spa resource is Spa-finders' Spa Source. Its search engine can lead you to dozens of spa resorts around the country. You can sort by many categories, although "low-priced" isn't one of them. Still, there is a price indicator and you can fend for yourself once you have the basic information.

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You also can book spa vacations online, or through a toll-free number, where agents can help. Day spas also are described. Similar information is in the "Spa Finder" directory, which costs $7.95, postage paid, and is available by calling (800) 255-7727 or (212) 924-6800; it can also be ordered through the Web site.

Another source is the book "Healing Centers & Retreats: Healthy Getaways for Every Body and Budget," by Jenifer Miller (John Muir Publications, 1998). It may provide a wider price range for the healthy vacations, although they tend not to be the maxi-equipped spa resorts that many people seek.

Another source is Specialty Travel Index, which lists dozens of spa locations around the world, as well as many other kinds of specialty vacations. Use the Web site search engine, or get an annual two-issue subscription for $10 from Specialty Travel Index, 305 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960.

About 20 Mexican spas can be booked through Spa World Reservations Service.

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One of the most recent guidebooks to spa vacations is "Spa Guide USA," by John Segesta and Anne Stein (Open Road Publishing, 1999).

I'm scouting for an inclusive resort in the Berkshires or elsewhere in New England with lots of activities where my husband and I can take my three 20-something sons for a long summer weekend in 2000. Where can we look?

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The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts makes a splendid long summer weekend. Besides soothing scenery, the arts and sophisticated dining, there are activities for many interests, including golf, hiking, horseback riding, llama trekking, rafting, baseball, boating, swimming, tennis and racquetball.

With its long history as a vacation destination, the Berkshires also have many lodgings, from grand resorts to B&Bs and private cottages.

Start with the Berkshire Visitors' Bureau, where the searchable lodging database includes a resort category. You also can book through a lodging reference service affiliated with the bureau; call (800) 237-5747. A vacation guide available through that number also describes resorts. (As with many visitors guides, remember that it may exclude properties that aren't members of the bureau.)

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Among resorts:

  • Ponds at Foxhollow, in Lenox, phone (413) 637-1469, with pools, tennis, rowing, canoeing and more.

  • Eastover Resort and Conference Center, in Lenox, phone (800) 822-2386. It's on 1,000 acres, with a full recreational program.

  • Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, Lenox, phone (800) 326-7080, a health and fitness resort related to the ones in the West.

  • Cranwell Resort and Golf Club, phone (800) 272-6935, with its own 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and pool, on 380 acres in Lenox.

    A good source for tracking resorts in New England or elsewhere in the country is the Zagat Survey of U.S. Hotels, Resorts and Spas. In typical Zagat fashion, it offers one-paragraph reviews of thousands of properties, but it's also valuable for its indexing strengths. The Berkshires section cites 10 resorts and inns.

    Another excellent source on Northeastern resorts is "The Discerning Traveler" newsletter, in which each issue focuses on one destination. The Berkshires were the topic of its November/December 1994 issue (Vol. 8, No. 6), available to nonsubscribers for $8. Call (800) 673-7834 or order through the Web site.

    Lenox, Mass., also has a site with local information.

    I'm leaning toward St. Croix as a honeymoon destination. How can I locate honeymoon packages there or elsewhere in the Caribbean?

    Honeymoon packages are big business in the Caribbean, and in recent years the island resorts have been promoting their wedding and honeymoon deals. Pricing depends a lot on the dates of the stay.

    Start by checking the U.S. Virgin Islands site, which links to St. Croix. You can find resort listings for St. Croix there, or you can call the St. Croix Hotel Association at (800) 524-2026.

    Another site that can help locate a Caribbean package is TourScan. It's nicely designed so that you can pick your island (St. Croix is one of them), the type of resort you want, the price range and even designate the beachfront location. The site also can check the approximate added cost of airfare to your destination.

    The Caribbean Tourism Association site has a
    wedding requirements chart as well as links to all the islands and their resorts.

    Several wedding-related Web sites have honeymoon destination advice, including The Knot, the Ultimate Internet Wedding Guide, Weddingpages, WayCool Weddings and OurMarriage.com.

    Revisiting a previous Travel Advisor Q&A:

    A recent column about spending New Year's on Bali drew a response from reader A.S., who said she recently spent nearly four months on the Indonesian island:

    I found Ubud anything but charming and I wouldn't say my experience there
    resembled anything like what you describe. But then again, from what I've
    heard, Bali has changed dramatically in the last five years, with a lot of
    that happening in the last two years. The arts are of poor quality and those
    that are well made are priced the same as in America. Needless to say, I
    wasn't impressed and I don't find Ubud itself to be at all relaxing.

    Lovina strikes an even more painful chord. Aside from the fact that I watched them grenade the reefs at night to stun fish (simultaneously polluting the water
    and destroying the reef), the snorkel guides encourage snorkelers to feed
    fish, which has made the fish rather aggressive. I went out in a group of
    seven people and three of us got "attacked" by fish. No damage, but I was
    turned off. In fact, Lovina looked more like a run-down ghost down than a
    hopping resort.

    Some places to recommend:

  • Nusa Lembongon. There are two ways to go -- on a day cruise or via the losmen route. Regardless, Nusa Lembongon has the reputation now as the "Bali you dreamed of" with beautiful crystal clear water and incredible secluded white sand beaches. Not much to do there but it is a great place to walk around.

  • Padang Bai, where the boats leave for Lombok. Padang Bai has two beaches, and only one of them is in "Lonely Planet," thus the smaller one usually has fewer than five people on it. Great scenic walks with really interesting local community (ethnically) and full-moon parties on the beach.

  • Donald D. Groff

    Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

    MORE FROM Donald D. Groff



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