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Here's Mud On Your Thigh!

Looking for a spa with that je ne sais quoi – plus a little oo la la?

Then look no further than the Royal Parc Evian Hotel, in the town of Evian, France. Mais oui – it’s the same town that’s known for its bottled water, so if you’re partial to imbibing this particular brand, you’re in for a treat. Bottles of Evian are everywhere in the hotel’s spa, making it all the more enjoyable to get your daily requirements of H2 “eau.” (Visit www.royalparcevian.com.)

The hotel’s Better Living Institute spa, which was renovated two years ago, sits you in the lap of luxury. One afternoon, after my treatments, I simply curled up on a padded lounge chair in the elegant relaxation room (the former apartment of the Aga Khan), put the pristine down comforter over me, and promptly fell asleep.

The nap alone would have been nurturing enough, but the pampering at the Royal Parc Evian Hotel definitely was over-the-top. It started with the fangotherapy treatment of volcanic mud, which offered an analgesic effect to my achin’ bacon. Next was the new velvety skin scrub from the island of Java – and I went for it faster than you can say, “French fry.” It starts with a full body scrub with cinnamon, patchouli and nutmeg, which is applied as you melt comfortably in a heated massage bed. This 45 minutes of “gommage” is followed by a 45-minute massage designed to soften and regenerate. At that point, I was definitely channeling my inner femme fatale, I felt so soft, sexy, and ready-for-my-close-up. Yes, I thought – this must be why French women are so chic and seductive!

Since I also felt like a noodle, and a wet one at that, I jumped into the Hydro-Contact Trail. The outdoor “waterwalk” with a calming current stimulates the legs and releases muscle and joint stress. (I felt ready for the Follies Bergere! Or failing that, a lead in one of the hotel’s Children’s Club productions, complete with Broadway-worthy costumes and props.)

The Skinny on Spa Cuisine

Later, I opted for lunch in the hotel’s fantastic Le Jardin des Lys Restaurant, which is ideal for perennial size-four dieters like myself. The Synergetic Cuisine (low-calorie, energy-giving gastronomy) was definitely my cup of tea, starting with the delicious pineapple/pear juice. Chef Michel Lentz spent more than 15 years developing a cuisine that combines the properties of foods, herbs and spices, to produce an outcome of balance, lightness and energy. I could have made a meal out of just the guacamole amuse bouche. But I also feasted on the slimming 200-calorie tandoori Bresse chicken and 43-calorie raspberries in vanilla juice, whose calories are listed on the menu. (In other words, you could enter the restaurant looking like Gerard Depardieu, and exit resembling Catherine Deneuve.)

The bar at the Royal Parc Evian also offers non-alcohol “bien-etre” (well-being) Synergetic drinks; I especially enjoyed the 70-calorie GerBowl mix of Evian, raspberries, pineapple and grapefruit and the 85-calorie Tramonto, made with Dannon fat-free yogurt, oranges and strawberries. This way, you can have your gateau and eat it too. And you won’t pay through the nez either!

The next day, I ate a delicious cheese-heavy Swiss lunch of tartiflette before I spent the entire afternoon snow-shoeing in the Alps. (My thighs thanked me for it.) However, later, I headed to the Royal Parc Evian’s sister property, the rustic Hotel Ermitage, where I melted all aches and pains away with a hot stone therapy at its Form and Relaxation Centre.

But I needed to gear up. I was heading to Paris, to the world-famous Hotel Le Bristol, where I knew that more cheese, croissants, crepes, chocolate – and the resulting serious cellulite – were waiting for me. (I also knew that my prayers to St. Cellulita, the little-known patron saint of people who diet religiously, would not be enough.) So, after traveling and lugging my luggage to the City of Light, I booked a massage in my suite at Hotel Le Bristol, from the Anne Semonin spa next door on the fashionable rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. Anne Semonin is known for her high-quality products, which are a blend of trace elements and essential oils; dehydration, for example, is counteracted by lavender, basil and mandarin oils, with trace elements of selenium and manganese. In-the-know jetsetters swear by her anti-jet-lag facial, and her massages are the next best thing to sliced baguettes!

But you know what? I just really wanted to luxuriate in Hotel Le Bristol’s artful ambience that includes silk furnishings, antique engravings, crystal chandeliers, and marble bathrooms. Hotel Le Bristol was originally a magnificent 18th-century palace, and its atmosphere is nothing but hushed refinement, discreet service and cashmere care, for mere travel-writers like myself, and top VIPS, celebrities and politicians. After my massage, I headed up to the sixth-floor pool, which, through trompe l’oeil, resembles the front of a sailboat. A swim, combined with a walk in the hotel’s magnificent 35,000 square feet of gardens, a cup of tea, plus a catnap in my five-star suite, caused me to have the ultimate realization. Just staying at Hotel Le Bristol was a pampering, sexy spa treatment in itself.

I’m sure Brigitte Bardot would agree!

Visit www.hotel-bristol.com. And for more information on the Royal Parc Evian and Hotel Le Bristol call The Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800.

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