Past Places

New Smyrna Beach: Art & Artist Enclave (Fall 2016)

Charleston's Most Unique Low Country Dishes (Fall 2016)

Grab a Life Vest, Helmet, and a Paddle (Fall 2016)

Upcoming Exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art (Fall 2016)

The Ultimate Staycay? A Homegrown Mediterranean Get-Away (Fall 2015)

Eight Uniquely Charlotte Experiences (Fall 2015)

Hitting the High Notes of Macon's Music Scene (Fall 2015)

Florida's North Peninsula (Fall 2015)

12 Reasons to Visit Huntsville, Alabama (Fall 2015)

Alabama's Captivating Capital (Fall 2014)

Exploring South Carolina Old 96 District (Spring 2014)

Weekend Getaway to Lake Charles, La. (Spring 2014)

Exploring Northwest Florida's Natural Side (Spring 2014)

Discovering the Lake Oconee Area (Fall 2013)

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Fall 2013)

The Best of Today's Waterpark Rides (Summer 2013)


Have a Southern Houseboat House Party (Spring 2013)

Take Flight: Yes, You CAN Get a Pilot’s License (Spring 2013)

Discovering Hollywood's Backlot (Fall 2012)

Color-Fall Tennessee (Fall 2012)

NASCAR 2012: Upcoming Events Around the South (Summer 2012)

RVacations (Summer 2012)

People Go Wild for Glamping (Summer 2012)

Best Beaches for Beach Bums (Summer 2012)

Heirloom Gardens (Spring 2012)

Unforgettable Experiences Await You at Select Registry Inns in the South (Winter 2011)

Golf with a Southern Drawl (Fall 2011)

Bring Rover on Over - Hotels That Want to Pamper Your Pooch (Fall 2011)

Cabana Mania! (Summer 2011)

Time to Plan for Summer Sleepaway Camps (Spring 2011)

He Said Golf, She Said Spa (Spring 2011)

Edu-Vacation Destination: Charleston, S.C. (Spring 2011)

Getting Your Adventure on in the Mountains (Spring 2011)

Freeze Action (Winter 2010)

No Ordinary Love (Winter 2010)

Spa Spectacular: The Natural Choice (Winter 2010)

Freestyle Mountain Adventures (Winter 2010)

Spa Spectacular: The Natural Choice

Many spas across the Southeast claim to be "natural": They have nature-inspired treatments, use nature-based products and/or feature a nature-themed d├ęcor. That's all good, but taking it a step further, several Southeastern spas actually get back to nature. From Native American traditions and mineral pools to outdoor hot tubs and treatments using ingredients literally right outside the spa door, these spas epitomize the true meaning of "all natural."

Equani Spa at Brasstown Valley Resort

Located on traditional Cherokee lands in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, Equani Spa incorporates many elements and activities indigenous to the Cherokee Indians. Drawing on Native American tradition, Equani Spa features three Equani Spa Ritual Treatments that rely heavily on the use of water, which is viewed as the sacred messenger and commonly used for purification and other ceremonies. As such, all three treatments begin with the traditional cleansing of hands and feet.

In fact, guests have the option of adding a bathing experience to their massage service. Every treatment room features a private deck with a HydroTub, where guests can relax and take in the view of the surrounding mountains prior to a body massage and/or esthetic treatments.

Also outside, spa visitors can explore the spa's Native American history by taking part in an "A-Si," or hot house, ritual, or spend some time in meditation at the Labyrinth, a circular maze used in ancient times for reflection.

For those wanting to take a little piece of Equani Spa home, they will find handcrafted Native American rubs, lip balm and other items among the other products featured in the spa boutique. Photo courtesy of Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa

The Spa at PGA National Resort

Although The Spa at PGA National Resort in South Florida can be found on the property of a golf resort, this pampering retreat is anything but the usual golf-and-spa destination. Taking inspiration from the ancient spa tradition of "sanitas per aqua," or health via water, The Spa at PGA National offers the Waters of the World, a collection of healing mineral pools with salts imported from around the globe, including the Dead Sea and the Pyrenees.

Following in the footsteps of travelers who have bathed in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea, visitors to The Spa at PGA National can enjoy its salutary effects without traveling halfway around the globe. In addition to soothing irritated skin and calming anxious minds, these waters also relieve stress brought on by busy lives as well as environmental stresses.

In the Pyrenees salt pool, spa guests will experience the chilly, pristine waters of Sallies de Bearn, found high in the Pyrenees Mountains. These waters are said to moderate fluid retention, body temperature and mood swings.

Also available in the mineral pools, The Watsu Experience treatment uses joint and soft tissue mobilization to create a profound relaxation. For this technique, therapists continuously support and gently stretch spa-goers as they float in the water.

Regardless of other water-based treatments you have experienced in the past, rest assured this is one truly unique spa adventure not commonly found in the Southeast. Photo courtesy of The Spa at PGA National Resort

Shoji Spa

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of downtown Asheville, N.C., Shoji bills itself as "an outdoor Japanese-style hot tub retreat." This uniquely different day spa features private hot tubs, a cold plunge and a wet/dry sauna. The philosophy behind the spa is simple: "Bathe to cleanse the body, soak to cleanse the soul." Following Japanese thought, Shoji welcomes visitors to come play, relax and enjoy a romantic getaway.

During a visit, guests receive a yukata, a cotton robe also known as a kimono, to wear around the property. Note: Bathing suits are optional in private tub areas. The private tubs are enclosed on three sides by Shoji sliding doors and bamboo walls. The fourth side is left open to reveal the natural landscape.

All visitors can enhance their hot tub experience with a selection of spa treatments including massages, reflexology, aromatherapy and a body wrap. If visiting with that special someone, Shoji offers several couple's packages to make the most of your day out. Or if you prefer to turn it into a getaway retreat, Shoji also offers overnight accommodations in its onsite lodge or loft. Photo courtesy of Shoji Spa.

Sandava Spa at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

Given its location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway, it's not surprising that the goal of Sandava Spa is to connect you "to the sea, the shore and the power of personal wellness." With a focus on the local environment and naturally derived treatments, Sandava Spa's menu includes several services that utilize elements of nature that practically can be found right outside the spa's facilities.

For example, two of Sandava's wraps draw on Florida's popular citrus to provide healing properties to your skin. The Key Lime Mineral Wrap contains a polish made of Florida key lime sugar cane, while the Tangerine Clay Detox Wrap uses Florida honey, tangerine and citrus pulp. Ginger root, a natural medicinal herb, is used to warm the body, clear the mind and activate wellness in the Mandarin Ginger Body Glow.

From the nearby sand and surf, the Clearwater Sand Foot Scrub takes sand gathered from right outside the Sandava Spa and blends it with organic oils to create an exfoliating scrub. For the Sun Warmed Shell Massage, therapists use smooth, rounded shells partnered with sea minerals and gigartina algae to relax and ease tight muscles. In fact, several treatments feature organic sea algae in their products, including the Eco Sea Scrub & Rub, the Ocean Body Contour, and the Sun Repair Soother.

When it's all said and done, the staff of Sandava Spa hopes you leave feeling at one with the environment, "the source of our personal wellness." Photo courtesy of Sandava Spa