July 30 2014

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Get AWAY From It All


For New Yorkers thoroughly over winter’s brutal dark cold, today’s chilly rain surely didn’t help. But there is a place a short three-hour plane ride away (plus 15 minutes on a puddle-jumper), where the sun is warm, the beaches are beautiful, the water is turquoise blue, and it is currently 81 degrees. That would be Vieques, the small island off Puerto Rico’s east coast that is becoming an increasingly popular spring break destination for jet-setters in the know (and out of college).

That’s thanks in large part to the W Retreat & Spa that opened there last March, with well-appointed rooms, stunning ocean views, and a delicious Alain Ducasse restaurant right on the premises. It’s Spa Chakra-run spa suffered the same fate as Guerlain’s relaxation haven at the Waldorf this past summer when the conglomerate mysteriously shut down all of its nationwide locations. But no matter. January marked a new beginning for the property when the AWAY Spa officially opened its doors. “The concept is detox, recharge, and refuel,” acting director of lifestyle Tanya Ilustrisimo says of the destination’s mantra. “There are no express treatments, so it falls in line with the feeling of the retreat—the point is that you feel like we’re taking you away from it all.” Seeing as it’s located a good five-minute walk down a stone-lined path from the hotel’s main lobby, you literally have to leave the premises and enter a different physical and mental space to enjoy popular treatments like the 02 Awakening oxygen facial administered with Natura Bissé products and the AWAY signature massage, a head-to-toe rubdown performed indoors or in a beach cabana (we’d suggest the latter).

“It’s like our own little bubble here,” Ilustrisimo reiterates—although not too much of a bubble to make you forget where you are, i.e., an island paradise. Six of the ten treatment rooms open to a private garden space equipped with tropical foliage, outdoor showers, and the sound of waves crashing in the distance. There’s also a spacious couples’ suite that features adjacent massage tables, a stone tub, and an outdoor whirlpool (hot tubbing outside, perched above the shoreline, is not a bad way to spend an evening). Also recommended: the Café Con Coco scrub, which is made fresh with local coffee grounds, grated coconut, and coconut oil.

W Retreat & Spa, 200 Vieques Island State Road, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico; (787) 741-4100.

Photo: Courtesy of W Vieques Retreat & Spa