Iceland retreats are over the top in Blue Lagoon: Travel Weekly


“Did you know John Glenn visited here to get the feeling of walking on the moon?” asked Johan Helgi Gislason, a member of the host team at Reret in Blue Lagoon Island, as he gave me the welcome tour.

I can easily believe it when I look at the moonlight outside the walls of windows that adorn the property. Even though I was bleary-eyed after my direct flight from New York on Icelandair, I was struck by the otherworldly appearance of the lava fields surrounding the property.

I’ve visited the famous Blue Lake, 14 miles from Keflavik Airport, before and experienced the wonders of the public lake area, but this 62-room retreat took that experience to another level.

Close to the land and with exclusive access to private areas of the lake, the boutique property puts relaxation and self-sufficiency front and center, with extreme sustainability and environmental friendliness on the side.

But the hotel exudes a relaxed vibe when it’s over the top (picture guests wandering the halls in their robes and spa shoes).

Breakfast is in the lobby lounge, where you can pop in and expect a perfect English in an instant, offering buffet and a la carte options – all to suit guests. Ditto complimentary afternoon coffee (a Nordic tradition, though tea and cocoa are also available), complete with tiered pastries and desserts.

The retreat’s main attraction, however, is the 13,500-square-meter underground spa, built in and among lava formations and offering access to both private and public geothermal lake areas.

I made a beeline for one of the private lagoon areas for my first dip in the warm blue water. I then head to the Blue Lagoon Ceremony, where the spa staff will guide you through steps aimed at making the most of the geothermal healing properties.

Underground Spa at Retreat.

Underground Spa at Retreat. Photo Credit: Provided by Blue Lagoon Iceland

Going gaga

If you’ve ever seen people at Blue Lake smiling with white gloop on their faces, it’s the famous silica that people swear by for revitalizing skin. At the public lagoon, visitors scoop it out of a bucket and slather it on, but at the Retreat, the mud is applied more elegantly in a grotto-like setting, complete with lounge areas where you can wait while the goo does its magic.

Algae and mineral applications follow, some of which are thought to provide medicinal and cosmetic benefits. From cozy nooks with fireplaces and lounge chairs to hanging basket chairs in the Nest, I often found myself drifting off in a spa-induced coma, gazing out over the steaming blue water.

I also opted for Retreat’s new spa offering, a floatation treatment that uses a helmet for your knees and floatation pads that allow you to easily bob in the water while a therapist moves you through the water and gives you a light massage.

For guests seeking a more unique spa experience or those with small children who are not normally allowed in the lake, there is a Lava Cove Day Suite that can be rented for up to six, with butler service, in-room treatments and its own private lake access.

Other features at the property include daily group yoga and a fitness center, as well as a library with fireplace and complimentary bar. The concierge can arrange off-property excursions, such as guided tours of the Regency Peninsula in a chauffeur-driven sedan, private helicopter or ATV.

For guests who choose to wake up, there is a terrace where they can view the northern lights.

There are six suite categories at the Retreat, all with private terraces and heated floors.

There are six suite categories at the Retreat, all with private terraces and heated floors. Photo Credit: Provided by Blue Lagoon Iceland

A room with a view — and much more

I don’t usually spend much time in a hotel guest room, no matter how nice, but I did in this one, especially with the view of the lava fields marked by the blue lake water stream, the giant bathtub offering the same view, the spa-centric skincare facilities and the generous minibar with complimentary drinks.

It was what Gislason referred to as a forest in the distance, though what I saw — and only through my glasses — was like a Christmas tree farm. That said, there are trails to the trees for those looking for a little hard-ground activity.

Note that the guest rooms do not have televisions, a decision that the property developers did not take lightly, but it adds to the appeal.

As for dining on property, bring out your inner foodie. I had lunch at the spa restaurant, tucking into giant king crab legs while watching guests sip champagne and soft drinks from the pool bar.

One evening we ate at Lava Restaurant, where local ingredients like fresh fish and beef took center stage in a bistro atmosphere. On the final night, however, we were treated to a dining show at Michelin-recommended Moss Restaurant – part of the new Guest Chef & Wine Pairing Series – led by Chef Aggie Sverrison and guest vintner John Schwartz with Amuse Bouche. Winery in Napa, from the winery to the winery to the winery.

The property’s master sommelier, Clement Robert, will be on hand for guests who want to enjoy a similar multi-course chef’s table experience, and be prepared not only for delicious menu options — including vegan dishes — but also for eye-catching presentations.

There are six suite categories, all with private terraces and heated floors, and prices starting at $1,260 for the 431-square-foot Lava View Junior Suite; The 754 sq. ft. two-bedroom Blue Lagoon Suite is priced upon request.

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