If you think about it, most cities are made up of bricks and mortar, glass and steel—solid stuff.  Yet, I can think of one American metropolis which might argue the point.  If any town can be said to consist of air and water, it is Seattle.

Living on the air and water
on Lake Washington.

The "air" is ever fresh and piney in these Northwest latitudes. Of course the big-time industries which put Seattle on the contemporary map — Boeing and Microsoft — rely upon air and electromagnetic waves within it.  Without air there'd be no airplanes and no internet either.

Then there is "water", which perhaps is not quite the word, although there's plenty of H
2O in Seattle's bays and lakes, not to mention what perennially rains down from the skies.  Maybe a word like "liquid".  Thus we could embrace by association not only the famous houseboats of Lake Washington and the churning waves of Puget Sound — water, water everywhere — but the warm brown percolations of that other Seattle hallmark — Starbucks.  Piping hot latte on a drizzly afternoon hunched over the laptop — that's a picture Norman Rockwell could paint, quintessential Americana of the early 21st century!

Given the local predilection for things vaporous, it's no surprise that a Canadian spa company has chosen Seattle to showcase its first outpost in the USA.   Vida Wellness, which has developed a comfortable niche at a trio of luxury hotels in British Columbia, recently opened within Seattle's new South Lake Union complex.  The development just north of downtown includes Pan Pacific, a remarkable new 5-star hotel, plus condos, fitness center, Whole Foods Market, restaurants, shops, and, yes mother, a Starbucks.

The Pike Street Market is a short
walk from the Pan Pacific Seattle.

My wife and I recently spent a restful weekend at the Pan Pacific Hotel/Vida Wellness complex. We alternated excursions to nearby tourist sites (the Space Needle; the bayside Aquarium; the colorful Pike Street Market) with a cruise of Lake Washington to eyeball the lakeside homes made famous in "Sleepless in Seattle", as well as Bill Gates' mansion. Since the street car connecting downtown with Lake Union stopped right outside our door, it made for the easiest sort of access to points of interest within the city core.

Vida Wellness and Pan Pacific make for a particularly agreeable synergy.  The hotel is small and welcoming: 160 rooms with an intimate lobby and bar area off an interior court. Pan Pacific prides itself on personal service, providing individual concierge assignments for each guest.

Vida practices advanced cleansing.

The couple's treatment room.

Vida utilizes blended
herbs for your dosha.

Given the relative gloom of cloudy Seattle, hotel designer Hirsch Bedner has stressed counterpoising warmth: rich zebrawood throughout, mellow lighting, and clean lines.  The rooms, with full tubs and Hydro beds featuring down comforters, are invitingly cozy.  Technological convenience has hardly been neglected, however, since each room features high speed internet, plasma TV and a generous modular workspace.

The relaxed aura of Pan Pacific is reinforced just a few steps across the courtyard within the soothing sanctuary of Vida Wellness.

The spa utilizes a popular holistic system called “Ayurveda” with roots in ancient India.  The treatment focuses on warming the interior of the human body as a way of promoting physical and psychic harmony.

Massage techniques feature warm oils which penetrate the skin. Infrared sauna (like traditional Finnish, Turkish, and Russian hot rooms, but more intensive), also helps flush out harmful toxins to promote good health.  Atmospherics — soft music, fragrance, a comfortable lounge area — accompany the treatments to lend an air of tranquility and well-being.

Lounge by Vida's comfy fire.

My wife and I opted for the couples program, which includes a three-day detoxification regimen custom designed to cleanse and create balance throughout the body.  This program includes a daily 90-minute Ayurvedic Swedana treatment featuring a cedar steam cabinet reminiscent of a Finnish sauna except that the cabinet base has been filled with herbs specifically chosen for one's particular "dosha" (an Indian equivalent of our Western idea of bodily "humours".)

Vida spas are also located in Canada.

One's dosha is determined, tentatively at least, by means of a questionnaire aimed at creating a personality profile.  The steam is followed by dry flour brushing of the entire body to further exfoliate the skin and prevent re-entry of toxins.

Although we lacked the three days needed to fulfill a complete program our shorter version included deliciously extended warm oil massage at companion tables followed by a restful hour before a lounge fireplace. Even such a brief visit left us convinced of the efficacy of Vida's strategies for breaking down tensions of the work-a-day world.  In fact, much of Vida's business has come from corporations which are finding it a good idea to help keep their executives relaxed and healthy through occasional group visits to the Wellness spa.

For information and reservation inquiries, accesd www.panpacific.com or www.vidawellness.com or call toll free for Pan Pacific at (877) 324-4856 or for Vida Wellness at (888) 865-2630. 

— Feature by Jerry Nemanic; photos by Donna Nemanic and courtesy of Pan Pacific hotels. Read Jerry's Jetsetters Magazine feature about the Pan Pacific Hotels of the Pacific Northwest.