Here in the Midwest, “back to school” really does signal a change in seasons. It’s not quite September as I write this and the air is already starting to feel cooler, the humidity has gone, and every so often you’ll notice a singular tree along the road starting to change colors, and you know that the rest are not too far behind. In southern California, however, the change in season from summer to fall sort of just means pumpkin spice and severe fire hazards. It sure makes you love and appreciate any whiff of true autumn you catch, though.
During this transitional time I tend to pay more attention to detox rituals for the skin and hair. All the summer feasting, wearing my hair up in a bun, and hot weather does a number on the hair and skin, and it’s now back to reality with vacations wrapping up and school/work routines taking full swing once again. I like to use one or two nights a week to do some kind of mask these days, like Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to draw out whatever’s been clogging my pores lately. I’ll also add in an exfoliating treatment like Kate Somerville ExfoliKate or Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub for a gentle peel and to restore glow. I may take a bath on one of these “spa nights” and dump in a ton of epsom salts (so good for you), or some kind of relaxing bubble bath like Aura Cacia’s Comforting Geranium Bubble Bath for a little aromatherapy. Lighting your fave candle is always an option, but I’ll be honest- a lit candle next to me while in a hot bath just makes things sweatier.
I posted a question on Facebook asking what luxury beauty item or service you’d choose for yourself if money were no object, and spa services were by far the most popular choice. I can’t say I disagree- a weekend at a spa resort would easily be my first choice too. While I love the idea of an at-home spa treatment where you can light a candle or two and sort of pretend that you paid $200 for the services, have you ever done research on those super legit spa resorts you read about in magazines like Travel + Leisure? These aren’t just hotels- they’re destinations meant specifically for wellness. They’re sprawling pieces of glorious real estate meant to whisk you away from reality (and people, in general) and into a time of tranquility, rejuvenation, beautiful natural settings, and, depending on what kind of getaway you prefer, something like an energizing bootcamp challenge or a detoxifying yogic experience.
Personally, my preferred kind of spa resort would be isolated, geared toward pampering, and uber-luxurious with a focus on its natural surroundings. I’m not into the bootcamp idea, because relaxing to me means no pressure and no need to accomplish anything- though having the option for working out is always welcome, and I’m sure I’d take the resort up on a yoga offer. My ideal spa resort would be quiet, and I might not talk to a single person during my stay there (except to order that second glass of rose` and to say “thank you” to the yoga instructor). While there are many such resorts around the country, there are a couple that have stuck out to me in my research, with the very last being my most desired.
And if you’ve been to any one of these …… I don’t want to hear about it.
The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, PN – The Lodge isn’t exactly your typical lodge rental out by the local lake that you go to for winter camp. Sitting outside around a fire pit on their “Whisper Lounge” porch with rocking chairs (doesn’t hearing that alone make you fall asleep?), while watching the sunrise over a dense East Coast forest sounds good enough to me by itself. But throw in peaceful soaking pools with “heated HydroMassage WaterWalls” and I’m drooling.
Four Seasons Hualalai, The Big Island, HI – You’ve gotta throw in a tropical beach on your list somewhere. I used to tell myself that I wasn’t a “beach person” and that I wasn’t interested in palm trees or sand. Turns out, if you’ve grown up around palm trees and sand, you’re a beach person whether you like it or not. Trust me. At this Hawaiian resort, you can choose ingredients to create your own personalized oils and botanicals to accompany you throughout your spa experience. Honestly though, I think I’d be down for just a nap in the spa’s outdoor Water of Life Garden.
Miramonte Resort and Spa, Indian Wells, CA – The Coachella Valley is one of my favorite places of all time, partly because it’s very nostalgic to me as I’ve grown up going to the desert for little getaways with family and friends. Aside from its overrun festival season, so much of what the Valley has to offer comes in the form of peaceful mountain range views, gorgeous world-class golf courses, and luscious spa resorts that provide an escape from the crowds. All I really need in the desert is a giant pool to lounge by, but at Miramonte I’d probably treat myself to their hot stone massage and a few minutes in their eucalyptus steam room.
Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, Sonoma, CA – Spanish mission-style architecture and wine country- two things I love. I’d probably go for something like the Willow Stream Elements service here, where all four elements are combined to create a restful and restorative experience. Aromatherapy serves as air, a mineral bath serves as water, an “earthy” mud wrap take care of earth, and finally, you have a massage by a fireplace. Yep.
Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, WY – Judging from my parents’ pictures from their recent road trip across the Great Plains, Wyoming is a truly breathtaking state. Brush Creek Ranch places you right in the middle of the Platte River Valley, and features a resort that manages to fuse Western dude ranch with resort luxury. For the more adventurous there’s fly fishing, horseback riding, and wilderness hiking, and for folks like me there’s falling asleep and doing nothing in your Western-inspired cabin. The resort’s smaller, private luxury property called the Magee Homestead has its own spa and wellness center featuring products by Naturopathica, doTerra, and Tata Harper, the creme de la creme of natural skincare lines.
Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT – Of all the spa resorts I’ve come across in my research, the environmentalist architecture and design of Amangiri Utah speaks to me more than all others. I have such a love for the stark, still beauty of the desert and this resort captures that idea perfectly. In a funny way, it kind of reminds me of Star Wars and that may only be adding to my love for this place. It’s set at the base of a canyon in a way that just seems to blend in; it doesn’t seem you’re retreating at a resort so much as retreating within the canyon itself. Most of the suites have their own outdoor fireplaces and terraces, lap pools, plunge pools or spas, and expansive views of the desert with open sky terraces for stargazing. Amangiri’s website doesn’t even feature its spa menu so I actually don’t know what services they offer. All I can imagine is that they transport you into a blissful coma of nirvana, and that they make a Swedish massage at your local Massage Envy feel like a creepy five-year-old playing patty cake on your back in the dark. The adventure offerings are extensive, from hot air balloons to archaeological excavations to painting in the desert. I, of course, am still determined to just find the most luxurious place possible to take a nap.
Happy Napping! xo, MR
Photo credits in order of appearance to: thelodgeatwoodloch.com, fourseasons.com, miramonteresort.com, kuoni.co.uk, brushcreekranch.com, aman.com, aman.com