I love my birthday. Always have. So it comes as no surprise to friends and family — the people who love me enough to grin and bear it when I begin the annual countdown about 90 days out — that I always have a plan for “my” day.
This year’s celebration took place in Bermuda at the elegant Fairmont Southampton, where my husband, Kevin, and I holed up for a fabulously relaxing long weekend. Set amid 100 landscaped acres overlooking its own private pink-sand beach, the hotel is a haven where it’s easy to imagine any birthday wish will be granted — especially for guests, like us, ensconced on the Fairmont Gold Floor, a “hotel within a hotel” with a dedicated concierge who can seemingly wave her wand like a fairy godmother to make dreams come true.
My birthday wishes included a lazy day at the Willow Stream Spa. Located on the hotel’s mezzanine level, the spa’s modest entrance belies what lies beyond. At 31,000 square feet, the spa comprises 15 treatment rooms, a steam inhalation room, several relaxation lounges and an indoor swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows and massaging waterfall spouts.
I was intrigued by the spa menu, a roster of treatments designed to balance nature’s elements — air, earth, fire and water — but three specific experiences caught my eye: Willow Stream Elements (a medicinal moor mud wrap, therapeutic bath and massage), Balance Body (a footbath and exfoliation followed by a hydrating oatmeal and honey body scrub and finished with a full-body massage) and Total Adjustment (an Ayurveda-inspired treatment including a footbath and scrub, a botanical body mask, an herbal exfoliation with dry brushing, a massage, a hot towel wrap and mini-facial.)
I decided to shoot for the moon and booked Total Adjustment. I changed into a robe and slippers and settled into a comfortable chaise longue, citrus-infused water in hand, where I relaxed until a therapist beckoned.
First stop, a delightful footbath ritual. While the therapist pampered my toes, I completed a comprehensive questionnaire designed to reveal the proper course of treatment in tune with my physical and emotional well-being on that particular day. The questions, based on the principles of Ayurveda, lead to a diagnosis of Vata, Pitta or Kapha, the three doshas, or forms of energy, believed to circulate in the body. My answers suggested a leaning toward Pitta, the dosha associated with fire and water. It’s also the dosha usually linked to transformation: an apt connection on my birthday.
The footbath complete and the course of action clear, I meandered to a treatment room, where I indulged in a dry-brush herbal exfoliation followed by the application of a botanical body mask. Swathed in warm blankets, I closed my eyes and let the mask work its magic.
I must have dozed because it seemed as if no time passed before the therapist was back in the treatment room unwrapping the blankets and pointing me toward a warm shower where I could rinse off while she changed the linens. Back in my cocoon, I allowed myself to drift again as I felt any remaining knots and kinks unlock during the massage that followed.
After an hour and a half of complete indulgence, I nearly floated back to the lounge to sip a cup of herbal tea before returning to my guestroom to change for dinner: a birthday treat Kevin and I enjoyed at Waterlot Inn, the hotel’s romantically atmospheric steak house, in operation for three centuries.
For dessert? Strawberries Foster prepared tableside. Who could ask for anything more?
Willow Stream Spa
101 South Shore Road
Southampton, Bermuda SN02
tel 441 238 8000
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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