By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I'd like to plan a getaway "spa" weekend in the southern U.S. or Caribbean but don't know where to get information. I am travelling solo and am hoping you can help with some ideas within a 2-3 hour flight from Toronto.

A: These days you'll find spa facilities in almost any exclusive hotel and resort. Once you've narrowed down the locale for a stress-free, relaxing experience, you'll be well on your way to enjoying the many rewarding health benefits from spa therapy. One of my favorite spa retreats, Amelia Island Plantation resort is situated in northeast Florida on a tiny isle called Amelia Island. (Spa reservations: 1(800) 874-6878 or visit

Here, you suspend yourself in the popular Watsu massage therapy program. For this acquatic oasis, the salty seawater will keep you buoyant as you float in a private postage-sized pool overlooking a lush lagoon where egrets and turtles are nearby. Unlike other parts of Florida where theme parks and commercialism is known to run rampant, Amelia Island possesses a small town that is forever locked in a Victorian charm.

Fernandina Beach houses a 50-block historic district that includes the oldest bar in Florida, cheerfully painted Victorian "cottages," some in Chinese Chippendale and Mississippi steamboat styles as well as a "Silk Stocking District" which was aptly named in those days after the lady of the house's preferred hosiery. It's also the only territory in the United States to have been under eight flags and is known as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.

For the Caribbean, Beaches resorts - the sister arm of renowned Sandals resorts -- welcomes singles, couples, families and friends. A particular favorite with spa-goers and fitness fans is Grande Sport Villa Golf Resort & Spa by Beaches located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. With a short 4-hour flight to Jamaica from Toronto, it makes an ideal spot for a weekend getaway.

Situated by 50 tropical acres, Grande Sport Villa Golf Resort & Spa by Beaches is an all-inclusive getaway for adults, which combines all kinds of activities with the peace and tranquility of a true wellness resort. Ask about their yoga, Pilates and kickboxing programs. The resort has a full-service European spa that offers a wide range of spa treatments.

There are even private outdoor terraces at the Beach Club where guests can enjoy a relaxing massage while listening to the soothing sounds of the Caribbean Sea. All spa services are at an additional cost. For more information, see your travel agent or call 1-800-545-8283.


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