The worry, angst, stress and confusion otherwise known as the year 2020 has us all on edge. And for a good long time, the much-loved practice of heading to a spa to just breathe in and relax has been off limits.
No longer. Spas across Massachusetts are open. And while there may be some restrictions that you think would disappoint you, spa operators say that those heading in love being pampered again.
From an overnight spa immersion experience to a quick overnight with a spa visit to a day spa pop in, you can once again balance your chakras, relax your body and soul and just plain ease yourself into a more blissful state – even in 2020.
At Canyon Ranch in Lenox (canyonranch.com/lenox/), known internationally for quality spa experiences there and at their other locations, the resort is up and running with some tweaks, but still with all the education, support and, yes, relaxation you seek in a spa escape.
“Our guests are feeling safe and we see them here relaxing and enjoying it all,” said Mindi Morin, managing director of Canyon Ranch Lenox.
Canyon Ranch launched a “Pathways Program” that allows a guest to preplan and pre-imagine a three-, five- or seven-day visit. The Pathway you choose is uniquely yours, and can focus on and medicine, exercise, nutrition, spiritual work or a combination of them. Or, said Morin, you can simply choose relaxation as your goal.
While you’ll find some things not as they were in pre-pandemic times — such as food service (no buffets are allowed) and the ability to soak in all of the spa (some of the usual relaxation areas are off-limits for extended lounging) — there are pros to visiting at this time, Morin said.
First, it’s less crowded. With so many states’ on Massachusetts’ quarantine and/or test before coming list, we Bay Staters will find we have more room at Canyon Ranch as well as other spas.
“Things are really spread out,” Morin said. “You never feel like you are on top of people.”
She said they find guests are meandering the property and lingering in spots like the café, which has a breathtaking view of their Great Lawn.
There’s also the post spa treatment option of heading to your room to relax in front of a crackling fire. In other words, the vibe is intact.
Morin said the Pathways program not only takes care of setting up spa treatments, education sessions and meals ahead of time, but it also “takes in this climate we are in to create pathways to meet each person where they are.”
Sanitation is, of course, a priority, she said. Massages, facials and other treatments are done in private rooms and with masked and gloved therapists. Masks, hand washing and cleaning is prioritized.
Morin said that once guests arrive, they realize they feel safe and that a spa visit may be just what they need to turn 2020 around.
“The days are shorter and on top of the pandemic, it’s just a challenging time,” she said. “It’s a great time – and important time, really – to focus on self care.”
At last, the new Encore Boston’s Spa (encorebostonharbor.com/amenities/the-spa) is up and running. And despite some COVID-19 restrictions, Spa Director Virginia Perez said guests are embracing the chance to find de-stressers and relaxation choices.
“Five star is still our goal,” she said of the spa. There are some things that you won’t get: There’s no lingering within the spa, and no showers, steam rooms or that type of thing.
But from the moment you enter and deeply breathe the spa scent, Perez said, you feel transported.
“There’s relaxing music, wonderful scents and a masked staff whose smiles you can see in their eyes,” she said.
Once you check in, you’re led to a locker to change into a plush robe and slippers (lockers are distanced properly). With the spa running at just 20% occupancy, you’ll always feel like you have enough safe space.
Once you are in your robe, you’ll wait for just a moment in a lovely co-ed waiting space and then be whisked off to your treatment within five minutes of your arrival.
Perez said while all their treatments have been popular, their “Good Luck Ritual,” an 80-minute treatment based on the five elements of Chinese medicine, and their “Ayurvedic Retreat,” a nearly two-hour spa session that mingles massage and chakra balancing and ends with a “third eye” treatment (amazingly relaxing) are popular.
So too, she said, are facials.
“Hydro facials and oxygen facials are popular,” she said. “I think we hold a lot of stress in our faces, and we need to release that.”
While the spa cannot feature in-spa dining or lingering now, the rest of the resort offers choices, and the spa staff is happy to help point guests to a healthy meal, lovely cocktail or whatever they desire post treatment time.
Many, Perez said, are booking a room and staying the night, taking time to walk in the crisp fall oceanside air and enjoy the views.
“I think people are enjoying a chance to disconnect from what is going on in the world,” she said.
Armand Salon Spa, Kingston
Day spas are up and running as well, and at the popular Armand Spa in Kingston (armandsalonspa.com), said Spa Director Jeanna Nims.
And while they, too, have had to embrace adaptations, their clients are happy to be back.
“Yes, things are a little different, but you still get amazing service,” she said.
Armand books you ahead of time and then, when you arrive, brings you up to the entrance within moments of your arrival. Since you’ve already been checked in virtually, you head straight to a sanitized room for your treatment.
Massages and facials have been popular, she said, as well as hair treatments. Manicures and pedicures are down, she believes “because no one is seeing our toes.”
While Armand had — before the pandemic — lounges to relax in and food that could be served up there, that is on hold. However, their accompanying restaurant, Mussels, is a few steps away and open to serve you a healthy — or otherwise — meal to your liking.
How is it working out?
“We haven’t had anyone unhappy,” Nims said.
Nims said clients are so happy to be able to get out and experience luxury self care that those benefits seem to outweigh what may be missing for now.
“I think we all just need a little extra TLC,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to be delivering it again.”