'The metrosexual is dead," declares Bill Chrismer, owner of Gentleman's Quarters, a new breed of all-male spa once synonymous with that term. "Men hated it," he states from his clubby Denver emporium, where real guys can indulge in body scrubs, seaweed wraps and brow waxes in the company of their peers. With today's more nuanced view of masculinity, men are more comfortable indulging in pedicures, manicures and facials, Chrismer notes, as long as they're called "foot repair," "hand details" and "skin fitness treatments." While men's spas may not have arrived at a mall near you, an appreciation for good grooming is reaching beyond the opera-going, latte-sipping, big-city set.
It was the rare chance to explore a province suffused in myth and little known to outsiders, yet hiding in plain sight. Until recently, Peru’s Sacred Valley has been ‘flyover country’ for most travelers, a place seen in fleeting glimpses from the train between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Since so few outsiders lingered in this region’s simple hotels or hiked the rough mountain paths, folkways of Peru’s once mighty Inca Empire have remained virtually untouched. Here women in voluminous pollera skirts and broad brimmed bowler hats still hand weave dazzling textiles from plush alpaca wool, and small scale farmers plow fields with oxen, tossing handfuls of quinoa seed from a gunnysack. A difficult destination for the independent traveler, this was an ideal place for Explora, a company known for bringing high-end accommodations to remote parts of South America. So, when we four women learned that Explora Valle Sagrado had finally opened in July 2016 we immediately made plans to visit. Landing at Cuzco airport a bit breathless from the 11,000-foot altitude, we were straining at the reins, eager to peer through this newly opened window to the past and keen to test our bodies against the wilderness.
Women were involved in flight well before the Wright Brothers’ time: In the late 1700s, female balloonists were popular carnival attractions, and in the early 20th century the first wave of daring females entered the era of powered flight. The list of ‘female firsts’ is impressive: According to Women in Aviation International, E. Lillian Todd was the first woman to design and build an aircraft in 1906, Blanche Stuart Scott was the first female to solo an airplane in 1910, and Katherine Stinson became the first female aerobatic pilot in 1915.
Whether it finally comes to be called the New Hamptons for its swank second homes, or the Anti-Hamptons for its Brooklyn boho vibe, few of us who recall the Catskills’ Dirty Dancing era would think of it as a place where style trends are born. In those years, when the resort area two hours drive north of Manhattan was known as the Borscht Belt, a time when gribenes --- fried chicken skin --- was deemed a culinary delicacy, and comics dropped their pants in one of entertainment’s less evolved punch lines, this province seemed more like The Land Taste Forgot. I come by these rather ignominious insider details firsthand, as I spent early childhood summers at my grandparents’ Catskills hotel, Forman’s Manor, a playground for the wave of early 1900s Jewish immigrants who had finally secured a toehold in America’s middle class.
You know that splendid sensation on awakening from a solid eight-hour sleep: brain firing on all cylinders, body and spirit ready for action? I think I’ve experienced it approximately twice, since – like most of us in this 24-hour work world with deadlines to meet, time zones to cross, and electronics bleating for attention – I’ve always regarded sleeping eight hours a night an endeavour best pursued in retirement, like reading Proust. Then scientists started poking around the somewhat neglected field of “sleep science” and turned up some disquieting data.
The Swedes go a touch mad in their brief but intoxicating warm season, when the sun shines nearly 22 hours a day. In mid-June, Stockholmers head for cottages in the Stockholm Archipelago, where they practise the pagan rites of Midsummer Eve