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The Axis of Relaxation

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: July 23, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Turned out, I was correct. My therapist was accustomed to working on athletes and brought a deep understanding of flexibility and sports-related challenges to the table. The facilities here are no-frills in nature, and the approach is decidedly less luxury-driven than at The Ritz-Carlton; however, as with the facial at the Ritz, the massage demonstrated the German penchant for efficiency and results-oriented effectiveness.

And while the massage was masterful in a traditional sense, there was also a nice, unexpected twist. In a nod to the club’s wellness approach, I was invited to customize my own massage oil using an array of Aveda aromatherapy essences.

Smart, simple and warm

Finally, I turned my attention to Italy’s capital city. As one of Rome’s most celebrated avenues, the Via Veneto is the cradle of la dolce vita, or the sweet life, immortalized by filmmaker Federico Fellini. It is also home to the recently refurbished Westin Excelsior. A monument to turn-of-the-century style, the hotel dazzles with rich custom fabrics, Imperial, Renaissance and Biedermeier style furnishings, and walls and ceilings hand-decorated by master artisans. Located just a few minutes from the Spanish Steps and the Villa Borghese gardens, the Excelsior has served as a gathering place for celebrities, artists and royalty since 1906, hosting a who’s who of marquee names from Joan Crawford, Orson Wells, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Catherine Deneuve, Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco, and the Kennedys to modern celebrities including the Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Kevin Costner, Will Smith and Jim Carrey.

The WestinWorkout within the Excelsior is a comprehensive fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and spa facility dedicated to complete health and wellness. It’s managed by a group called One on One Wellness Professionals, which operates in the wellness sector offering customized services and solutions designed to realize a “Wellness Lifestyle: psychological and physical well-being and an improved quality of life.” Like the Absolute Spa in Berlin, it offers guests a holistic approach to health, relaxation and well-being, and all its staff members are extensively trained at the One on One Wellness Institute.

In addition to the smart, contemporary fitness center at the Rome WestinWorkout, the facility offers massage rooms, a sauna, a Turkish bath and an indoor swimming pool, plus a full menu of spa treatments. You can also opt for in-room treatments, which come with a complimentary spa basket containing plant-based aromatherapy oils and a selection of aromatherapy room sprays. But, after days of walking Rome’s bumpy cobblestone streets and alleys, my back was aching and sore, so I chose to receive a deep tissue massage. The spa area is small but welcomingly warm and is decorated in a modern, earth-toned palette. Simple and understated, it was the complete antithesis of the ornate, Old World style of the hotel.