Absolute Must-Haves for your Local Urban Escape

Expert Tips

January 20, 2021

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i'm cassandra marcella

Last month, I made an escape from the chaos of my life and enjoyed a “stay-to-play” getaway.

What’s a Stay-to-Play, you ask?

Well, have you ever heard of “pay-to-play”? Pay-to-play is when a business pays a lobbyist to gain influence in Congress. They pay to play in the room where it all happens, which, while maybe not ethical, is legal. 

In a twist on that, I christened my local getaway to The Park Hyatt DC – a stay-to-play because I fully intended to play and have some fun – the wholly ethical and legal kind, of course. 

My priorities were to get a break from my everyday routines, the stress of moving during Covid, and mourning my Dad during this surreal holiday season. With no trains, no cars, and no planes involved in this trip, I simply rolled my suitcase down the street to the Park Hyatt in Washington, DC—and there I was!

If you’re in the DC area, I HIGHLY recommend checking into the Park Hyatt. Here are just a few scenes ::



Here are some possibilities if you’re looking for a memorable local getaway, too!

Take a steam under twinkling stars You’ll feel you’re in another world in the stunning mosaic steam room at the DC Mandarin Oriental hotel. They offer spa favorites such as hot stone massages or an aromatherapy foot massage, and the design of their spa is distinctive and will truly transport you. Check out the dining igloos at Del Mar at the nearby beautiful new DC Wharf, too.

Indulge in sleep support This clinical therapy at the classic Peninsula New York is based on ancient Ayurvedic practices to assist sleep concerns and insomnia, resulting in emotional and hormonal balance to bring the body’s rhythm back into harmony. With massage of the body with special attention to the feet and face and the marma points, you’ll find yourself deeply relaxed in a way you did not know was possible. Don’t miss the very chic Chalet de Ning on their roof for an outdoor wonderland that’ll carry you to the intimate snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps.

Go on an aroma journey Unwind during a sensory balancing massage experience with your choice of one of four aromatherapy blends. You can reconnect with nature and restore your health. All right in your room at the beautiful Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago. As a lover of hats, I love how this hotel resides within the old D.B. Fisk & Co. building, the country’s former largest wholesale milliner. The Hotel Monaco totally embraces its past via their interior design. And yet their wellness programs are ahead of their time and completely innovative.

Master wellness cooking Join a cooking class with registered dietitians to inspire a more well-balanced lifestyle through transformative eating habits. Voted one of the top spas in the country, a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village is a transformative retreat. They specialize in wellness programs and offer cooking demonstrations, grocery store tours, and individual nutrition consultations. You’ll leave with better life skills and knowldge.

Some hotels may be closed at this moment and some services may not be possible because of the pandemic. Still, when I stayed at the Park Hyatt, while their on-site spa was closed, I was able to unwind and fully relax while being cared for in luxury!

If a “stay-to-play” sounds like an attractive option for you, especially if you live in a city, here’s a checklist to make certain you have the perfect “stay-to-play” ::

1 | Hire a Travel Designer – The first step to relaxation is to remove the planning. Allow me to set it all up, so all you have to do is show up! I can VIP you with free upgrades and other amenities to make your stay super special.

2 | Pack Comfy Clothes – Stylish loungewear has been all the rage for over ten months now. I very much enjoyed feeling like a sophisticated film star while being pampered by the hotel staff.

3 | But Don’t Overpack – Keep luggage light. You want your mind and spirit to be light throughout your stay, so don’t weigh down your baggage – mental or otherwise.

4 | Get a Tour – When you first arrive in the room, be sure to get instructions on how to control the temperature and curtains and television. It’s all in the details!

5 | Survey Your Needs – Check to make sure you have enough water on hand, how the lights work, and if you have enough hangers. A bright bedside light may be something essential to ask for if you are an avid reader like me.

6 | Take Photos or a Film – Do this before you settle in! Keep these positive memories to look back on and tell the story of how you still made your mental health a priority during the pandemic and beyond. 

7 | Lay Out Your Toiletries on a Hand Towel – A hotel maid did this for me once, and now I always do it. Like setting a placemat, this habit’ll will not just contain your toiletries but communicate you are special.

8 | Order something you never cook for yourself – Maybe it’s something exotic like bone marrow. For me, it’s pancakes. I never make pancakes. So ordering them is a real treat. And this is a time for treats.

9 | Invite a friend (from your pod) over – We are all craving social time, and if you have people in a Covid pod, it can be fun to invite a friend over. It’s definitely easier to social distance in a hotel – you don’t have to tidy up!

10 | Check out the on-demand movie list – Order room service, sit back in your comfy robe, to enjoy a night in with a pre-release film. Your hotel may also offer wellbeing on-demand including guided meditations, sleep assistance, fitness videos, etc. For example, the Hyatt features Headspace and Exhale.

11 | Pinpoint design ideas to implement at home – I loved the way the towels and robes were hung so I took a photo to bring that luxury home. I also loved the pottery that held the bath salts.

12 | Do a debrief with your travel advisor – We love feedback (and so do hotels).

We can’t travel abroad right now. And let’s face it, even domestic travel can be precarious. If you live in or near a big city, a hotel in your region can provide you with all the richness and grandeur in the world and a retreat that feels like a true escape.

If a stay-to-play at an area hotel feels like too much, try one of our at-home travel tools!

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