The Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle has a new destination spa in Cary, North Carolina.
Just over an hour from BWI airport, The Umstead Hotel is secluded in a corporate campus bordering a state park with the same name. Minutes from the airport, close to Duke University, it's more upscale than typical conference centers. In fact, The Umstead is North Carolina's highest-rated hotel.
Folowing a three-month renovation, The Umstead Spa takes the triangle experience to a new level. Linked to lakeside paths and poolside cabanas, the bi-level spa is completely self-contained. Yet steps from fine dining and luxurious lodging.
The variety of indoor and outdoor settings surprises my guests, said spa director Carolyn Doe, who worked with the architects to redesign facilities. What began as a modest amenity now comprises two floors of relaxation, treatment, and exercise space. Natural elements like river rock, granite, bamboo, and glass bring the outdoors inside. Even the spa showers shimmer with natural light from tall windows.
While the fitness center has state-of-the-art equipment by Cybex and LifeFitness, there are no staffers to keep you on a program. Personal trainers are on call, but space is limited, and there is no movement studio.
With its secluded spa terrace and garden court, The Umstead Spa could provide outdoor programs for yoga and pilates enthusiasts. For now, bring your own mat and enjoy exclusivity.
What's unusual are the spacious relaxation lounges. Added in the recent expansion was a couples' lounge with access to an outdoor whirlpool. The men's spa features a step-down whirlpool and sun deck. The expansion brings The Umstead Spa to 16,000 square feet, including 11 treatment rooms.
A growing number of couples seek seclusion while enjoying intimate spa time, said Ms. Doe. This led to the addition of three couples' suites with side-by-side tables, showers, and fireplaces.
The connection with nature enhanced my facial. Escorted to a light-filled room, I selected products by Red Flower and Sothys. Experts are brought in to improve skills of therapists, I learned, and the treatment was equal to top day spas.
Dining at The Umstead, on the other hand, is far more elevated than one usually encouners in this area. What passes for regional cuisine might be grits and shrimp for breakfast; here it comes with a crisped poached egg that adds levels of taste, texture, and color. The chef's tasting menu features produce and meat from area farms. But no spa cuisine.
The Umstead Hotel and Spa completes the Research Triangle in style
Contact: 866/877-4141 or 919/447-4100; www.theumstead.com