Spa Season is a Decision, Not a Date on the Calendar

It is an amazing feeling to be bathed by someone else. Lying face down on a bed of soft towels, in one of seven treatment rooms at The Spa at Bernardus Lodge, two hands tucked in mitts of goat hair and linen scrubbed the length of me.  A dousing of warm water followed, rolling like a wave across my body. The gesture invited a certain kind of vulnerability, balanced by a sense of special treatment. And so I went with it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect during my Vichy Hamam body treatment. But the idea of having someone wash away the worries of my week was seductive. Based on the ancient tradition of the Turkish bath or Hamam, this cleansing ritual is designed with relaxation in mind. And that was exactly what I needed.

Once fully exfoliated, my body was ready for the indulgence of olive oil soap suds. A lather of white bubbles was rinsed away by warm Vichy water across my body. Once I turned over, the ritual began again, both stimulating my skin and settling me into my massage.

Working with a blood orange-olive oil balm, my therapist nourished my skin—lengthening limbs, untying knots, and ultimately lulling me into a weightless place, to work out any mental muscle tension. My treatment concluded with a service of hot mint tea and Turkish treats, while relaxing in the warming room.

Tucked into plush furnishings, beneath large abstract paintings, I sipped tea and bathed in the light breeze and warm sunlight coming in through double doors. The only sounds were ambient melodies, whose rhythms restored a sense of wellbeing and the susurrant white noise of the waterfall. In the center of the room sat a fire pit, beneath a copper hood, waiting to add warmth on more wintry days. I closed my eyes and just felt.

“Our goal,” says Spa Director Franziska Haala, “is for our guests to take the memory of this perfect moment home with them, carrying the feeling for as long as possible into their week. Hopefully, you can access this memory when feeling stressed or having a bad day, returning to the relaxation of the experience to help you pull through.”

If there is a certain spa season, the time is now. Whenever now is. Such a season is a state of mind, a time to relax, rejuvenate, to remind ourselves that it’s okay to stop and renew our mind, body, and spirit. For me, the season showed up today. And my moment continued with an Anti-Aging Enzyme facial.

I relaxed into a curved couch, while my esthetician smoothed luxurious Arcona skin care products onto my skin, a serum-based product line that uses enzymes to penetrate the skin and promote the production of collagen and elastin. Her touch told me she valued my skin maybe even more than I did, inviting me to appreciate and accept that my skin is worth it. While the enzymes went to work, I gave in to the head, neck, and shoulder massage—once again, drifting off to some pleasant place.

“Our facials are result-oriented treatments,” says Haala. “We want our guests to leave the room, feeling your skin is impeccable, and to leave the spa feeling you are beautiful, inside and out. The valley setting, and the warm colors and furnishings we chose are intended to feel like an extension of home, that welcoming place where you come to feel better about yourself.”

I ended my spa experience with a dip in the warming pool, floating in the tepid waters with eyes closed and arms outstretched.  Later, as I made my way home, I felt all was well with my world and I knew I could carry that feeling all the way back into town and the life that was waiting for me there.

The Spa at Bernardus Lodge, 415 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, 831.658.3560

Mon-Thurs, 8:30am-6:30pm; Fri, 8:30am-7:30pm; Sat, 8:30am-8:30-pm; Sun 8:30am-7:30pm

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