Simon Calder: The man who pays his way in the USA
Follow the latitude of luxury at 35 north
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 30 November 2012
Indulge me, if you will, while I explain my favourite American indulgences. They are a long way from the elaborate and intimate spa experiences that Juliet Kinsman invokes: I prefer foliage to exfoliation, and like my hot springs natural. For the latter, the southern half of the USA is steamiest and best: the line of latitude 35 degrees north provides a succession of misty outdoor locations in which to plunge.
First stop on the latitude of luxury: Jemez Springs, north of Albuquerque in New Mexico. High in the hills, you can reflect that humanity has probably been easing its weary bones over the smooth rocks and into a steamy fissure for millennia. Head east along th 35th parallel to immerse yourself in some style in the town where Bill Clinton grew up: Hot Springs in Arkansas. Bathhouse Row comprises a string of grandiose sanatoria created in the 19th century to harness the healing powers of naturally warm water.
Further east, you reach Greenville, South Carolina – home to hotsprings.com, which turns out to be a manufacturer of indoor spas. But Greenville, the city previously known as Pleasantburg, happens to be the closest South Carolina city to the Appalachian Mountains – where more modest indulgence awaits. The 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail (below), is speckled with 250 lean-to shelters. They may have three walls rather than the more customary four, but are still several steps up from the tent.
Walk far enough north-east and you can wander off the "AT" along the Molly Stark Trail in Vermont. Celebrating a revolutionary war heroine, it threads through some of New England's finest scenery. As early as 1914, The New York Tribune promised that tourists could find "A first-class hotel at the end of each day's run" – these days, with hot water.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Is our summer honeymoon in Greece in jeopardy?
Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 10 Best hiking boots
Hogwarts Express joins Warner Bros studio tour: The Harry Potter locations you can visit
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...