There's nothing like being a guest at a spa, but it gets even better when the spa is the Cavalieri Grand Spa, Rome's fabulous hotel on the hill. If anything, the Grand Spa is old news. For the last decade, its more than 20,000 square meters of pools, work out rooms, tennis courts, treatment rooms and green space have been a luxury retreat for local and international Veeps, (VIPs but with the proper Italian phonetic pronunciation). Case in point: my cousin - a former Serie A footballer and all-around It guy- had a membership just so he could work out on the occasion he was back in Rome, so of course I used to meet him and some of his friends [read: fit football colleagues] poolside for the pool bar hamburger.
About five or six years ago, the Grand Spa underwent an upgrade, holding on to its much-deserved No. 1 spot on the Roman spa scene, so why news now?
Two words: Gabriel Halmagyi.
Following a fourteen-year/ six-country career in spa management and physical therapy, Bucharest-born Gabriel has settled in Rome as the Grand Spa Manager, and all he wants to do is make the spa a community experience- for guests as well as locals. His first initiative included a full overhaul of the Grand Spa Cafe, with a focus on incredible flavorful, creative and healthy dishes that Grand Slammer Novak Djokovic couldn't get enough of. And I'll admit, even though my eye was on the pool bar burger, I loved my Vietnamese spring rolls, and calamari and courgettes with a Zen pesto.
Though the Spa does come with a pretty price tag, Gabriel has his finger on the pulse of quality and consistency-- state of the art (don't you love that word?) Technogym equipment, on-the-ball and very friendly personal trainers, innovative treatment rooms (he has some tranquility surprises coming soon that will literally change the spa's landscape) and fidelity to top-shelf treatments and products such as La Prairie and St. Barth's.
At the end of the day, there is a great equalizer among all luxury spas as they all strive forward with top gear, service and staff. What I am hoping will set the Grand Spa apart from the rest of Rome is Gabriel and his desire to create a community in the spa and out -right now, he's starting with al aperto yoga sessions under beautiful Roman pines (yours truly totally adored it even in the throws of allergy season), and early Wednesday morning urban running sessions that skims a pleasurable 5k around the centro storico. Let's see what happens . . .