It just happened to be one of those glistening North Carolina days in which the late afternoon sun turned everything golden and brought out the scent of those special longleafed pines found only in The Sandhills. We were dropped at this new building with a copper roof, a huge wrap-around veranda, and a small but elegant garden flanked by a pair of fountains. We murmured comments of appreciation to each other and then we stepped inside...
In my work it's easy to become somewhat jaded, to lose the sense of excitement at visiting new places and enjoying new experiences. I've luckily avoided that pitfall, but with all of my travels, I still found myself gasping in wonder when we entered the stunningly beautiful --and vast-- lobby of the Spa.
Lined with rich, dark woods, the lobby nonetheless was filled with sunlight which filtered through soaring glass walls and palladian windows. Carved words of wisdom from Henry David Thoreau and B.A. Goodridge circled the walls and added to the tranquil atmosphere. Facing us was a glass facade that looked into the skylighted pool area and provided a glimpse of the luxury we were to enjoy.
The three of us were led to a dressing room where we were handed locker keys (on a springy rubber bracelet) and told to change into the thick terry robes we were given. (It was understood that we were to emerge wearing nothing but the robe and our spa slippers, but I think all of us stayed in our undies.) We then met with a consultant who showed us around:
The showers, the women-only "wet room," which had a gigantic hot tub, a steam room and a sauna that could be used au natural or clothed, the dressing and make-up areas with hairdryers, lotions, deodorant and toothbrushes, and the "refreshment" area which included decaffeinated tea, ice water, bottled water and apple juice. We were told to wait in the "wet room" until our therapists came to get us.
Now, I consider myself pretty sophisticated, and I have had spa treatments before, in resorts and on cruise ships. It never, EVER occurred to me, though, that I would be presented with a masseur, i.e., a MALE therapist, to knead and stretch my old muscles. I was mortified. "He's a professional," the consultant soothed. "This is his job." Still, I just couldn't do it. I had no idea that if you wanted a gender-matched therapist, you had to make that request in advance.
I opted instead to flip my massage and facial appointments -since a facial was available to me at that time and I could have a masseuse
on the following day. It ended up working out perfectly, and the spa staff was understanding and considerate.
I was led off through a labyrinth of hushed hallways to a quiet, darkened room with a "facial table," a wide, contoured affair with plush covers and quilts. Once settled in, I immediately relaxed. The therapist darkened the room, put on soothing music, and started her work, which included using all sorts of creams and emolients on my face, neck and shoulders. I dozed off during her light-touch massaging, which is the intent. Relax! Relax! My hands and feet were put into warmed gloves and booties; I felt thoroughly cocooned in warmth and luxury, and was really unhappy when my hour was over.
Carol, Angela and I met back at the "wet room," and after a few minutes of steam, we showered, got dressed and prepared to leave this Wonderland to resume our weekend away. One of the attendants offered us strawberry smoothies, which we enjoyed on the veranda of the spa, almost too relaxed to manage the short walk back to The Holly Inn.
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