Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Photos: Curacao

The Curacao most people see is the one with glorious sandy beaches. The one I preferred to visit is lush with pockets of forest land, decked out with bold art objects and dotted with dramatic sea scapes.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Delighful Korean Day Spa Near Manhattan

There are dozens of day spas in or near Manhattan. But the SoJo Spa Club rises above all the others for innumerable reasons.

This multi-story spa is just a short 20- to 30-minute complimentary van ride from Midtown Manhattan. What greets guests is a Korean spa that mostly revolves around water amenities that are so numerous and so varied, especially in terms of their temperatures, you could easily spend an entire day at this barefoot facility in Edgewater, luxuriating.

To avoid crowds, arrive early to mid-week before noon. It’s no wonder crowds flick here, after all, there’s a water amenity to suit just about anyone who enjoys plunge pools, saunas and soaking pools, which are all included in the day rate as are other amenities.

One of my favorite activities was walking along the foot massage path on the fourth floor. This long rectangular pool is lined with a variety of different sorts of rocks, some smooth and flat, and others more bulky and substantial, but all are set under a shallow layer of water. This is a reflexology path that I delighted in, but it was surprising that few visitors gravitated to this pool.

Also on the fourth floor are a variety of outdoor, therapeutic soaking baths, including my favorite, the Hinoki bath that’s constructed of white cedar wood, which provides a lovely scent. This pool sits in a corner of the outdoor space, surrounded by foliage that makes the vibe quite peaceful.

The Japaneses bedrock sauna, referred to as Ganbanyoku, is on this floor as well. This is bedrock bathing where you lay on a heated black mineral slab in a room with 70% humidity

Gender segregated bath houses offer myriad baths and plunge pools that allow you to slip from a cold plunge pool into a warm or hot bath or a wet or dry sauna.
SoJo has more than half a dozen sauna rooms, including the charcoal sauna where the charcoal is made from Korean oak wood; the Himalayan salt sauna whose walls are made of salt bricks exported from the Himalayas; and the red clay sauna with the clay imported from Korea. The temperatures of the saunas range from a low of 100 degrees F in the far-infrared sauna to the hottest (charcoal sauna) with temperatures of up to 200 degree F..

Additional amenities include the volcanic sand bath with temperatures of 128 degrees F to 132 degrees F, and sand important from Japan. This is the only U.S. spa that imports its volcanic sands from Japan. You lay with other guests in a communal area where you are covered in the sands, up to your neck atop a robe, with a cool cloth around your neck.

The Halotherapy room allows guests to inhale air that’s been aerosolized with salt. This mimics what people experience in natural salt caverns in Europe.

Don’t miss the heated, rooftop infinity pool that offers postcard perfect views of Manhattan  and the Hudson River. This venue gets particularly crowded for the Instagram worthy pics.

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

My New Book on Food and Fitness

I bet that many who follow me and read this blog may not be aware that I'm trained as a scientist, and I'm a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. My new book that I co-authored is neither a diet book nor an exercise book. It's not a diet plan nor a new way to work out. You won't find anything about weighing/measuring food nor any prescription of what foods you should or shouldn't eat, nor any special exercise program or fitness equipment that you should use or rely on. Rather, this is a book that appears to have a simple message: it's a new way to think. This is a cognitive behavioral approach to food and fitness.  Though it seems simple, it requires work. But, it does work. "The Yum Factor: Changing Your Attitude Toward Food and Fitness" is sold on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback, Kindle or Nook editions.

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Sustainable Resort in Mauritius

On the east coast of Mauritius, SALT of Palmar is a delightful eco boutique property that's infused with sustainability, a playful design aesthetic that reflects the island's bold colors, and a sense of connectedness between the land, its people and their culture. These photos provide a window into this property with more stories to follow down the road.


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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A New Green Space on Roosevelt Island

It's certainly curious that so many New Yorkers have never visited Roosevelt Island, which is just a five-minute tram ride from Manhattan. (It's also a stop on the subway.) The two-mile-long island is serene, scenic and safe. But, now there's more reason than ever to visit. In fall 2017, the Cornell Tech campus opened as a sustainable university campus, and the newest campus in the city. The best thing for the public is the expansive green spaces, pedestrian paths, and numerous seating options on this 12-acre campus that features the Bloomberg Center. This contemporary, energy efficient structure was named for the daughters of Michael Bloomberg, the City's former mayor who spearheaded the initiative to develop the campus. This building is decked out with a rooftop of solar panels. And it also has the ability to capture rainwater that's used for irrigation, cooling and the plumbing system. Grassy lawns, ornamental grasses, and numerous small trees pepper the landscape where there are numerous seating options. And, no matter what time you visit, you'll notice that the facade of the Bloomberg Center takes on a different sheen depending on the time of the day. (It's because of the way the metal disk cladding reflecting the light.) A hotel is planned to open in 2020.

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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Fijian Resorts Centered On Protecting The Environment

As the seas are heating up, one of the consequences is a dramatic decline in coral that are vital for the health of coastlines and seas. Among the many countries affected by climate change is the island nation of Fiji. Thankfully, there are Fijian resorts, including family-friendly ones, that strive to pamper adults with all manner of amenities while educating everyone on how to preserve and conserve natural resources. This is my recent article for Forbes on three of these stunning resorts.

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Gardens Resembling Works of Art

I’ve always been in awe of the creative works of Brazilian native, Roberto Burle Marx, a conservationist and legendary landscape architect who’s most noted for his wavy patterns on the sidewalk of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. He used plants as anyone else would work with paint pigments to design gardens that are unique in their patterns, forms and color palette. I was delighted to recently visit the New York Botanical Garden that has a tribute to him -- “Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx: -- that’s open until September 29. It’s a must see whether you know anything about this legendary man or not. The exhibition, which includes tropical plants that are native to Brazil, is divided into four sections. The Modernist Garden has paths that are curvy as are the planting beds. Here you find elephant's ears, bromeliads as well as Caribbean and Brazilian palms. The Explorer’s Garden is lush with tropical rain forest plants such as philodendrons. The Water Garden has a whimsical wall dripping with staghorn ferns, as well as a large pool dotted with water lilies and other aquatic plants, including the Victoria amazonica whose leaves can grow as wide as nine feet. There’s also an indoor exhibition of his boldly-hued abstract textiles, drawings and paintings. As part of that exhibition, the Rotunda is where visitors are given insights into Burle Marx’s estate, referred to as the Sitio that served as his studio and home. The re-creation includes wall graphics that reference the hand painted blue and white tiles that line his studio’s walls.

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