Bermuda, Fairmont Southampton Hotel, Willow Stream Spa

Feb 1, 2008
2008 / February 2008

I wasn’t the least bit concerned about being able to relax and unwind on the beautiful Atlantic island of Bermuda, but — just to be sure — I decided to book a spa treatment at the Willow Stream spa in the Fairmont Southampton hotel.

Every option on the spa treatment menu sounded appealing, from the Body Quench hydrating treatment (a wrap, scalp massage with hair conditioning, and a customized massage featuring pure avocado oil), to the signature Willow Stream Elements experience, which incorporates treatments based upon the principles of the four natural elements: earth (medicinal mud wrap), air (aromatherapy), water (therapeutic mineral bath) and fire (warm massage).

I was particularly intrigued by Ritual of Two, something that my husband and I could enjoy together. Designed specifically for couples, this 120-minute treatment begins with a therapeutic bath for two, followed by side-by-side full-body aromatherapy massages. Initially, my husband was a bit skeptical, especially because the experience didn’t involve golf — another thing for which this resort is known — but he quickly forgot all about the links when I read him the brochure’s description: “In a private, luxurious spa suite … you’ll choose from a variety of muds and … baths, and then be left alone to have fun.”

Actually, the fun had started the moment we landed on the island. Fresh Bermudian breezes and a lively steel drum band greeted us at the airport, and we were immediately smitten with the lush greenery and sparkling turquoise blue waters all around us.

The Fairmont Southampton itself is a grand six-story structure — painted pink, to fit the island’s pastel color scheme — perched atop a hill overlooking the ocean. Every detail, from the vases of fresh tropical flowers to the friendly, impeccably dressed staff — the men in suits with Bermuda shorts, naturally — made us feel pampered yet thoroughly relaxed and comfortable.

The Willow Stream spa was a kind of oasis within an oasis. Located on the mezzanine floor of the hotel, the spa was easy enough to find by following the soothing sounds of the trickling waterfall on the wall beside the spa entrance.

Inside, the spa staff welcomed us warmly, checking us in with quiet efficiency and speaking in hushed tones so as not to disturb the mood of tranquility that extended through the VIP indoor-outdoor pool, the spa treatment rooms, the fitness center and the salon.

We were escorted to the separate women’s and men’s locker rooms and told that, after a relaxing shower, we could meet in the couples’ lounge, located beyond the locker rooms. A short while later, dressed in our fluffy white robes and slippers, we rendezvoused in the lounge, which featured comfortable furniture and large picture windows that looked out onto a breathtaking view of the shimmering ocean.

A few minutes later, a pair of massage therapists — Cole and Tarissa — met us in the lounge and invited us to follow them to the couples’ treatment suite. One half of the room was furnished with side-by-side padded massage tables; the other side — hidden by a half wall — held an oversized spa tub filled with bubbles and surrounded by votive candles.

Cole presented us with three small glass bowls containing different delicately scented bath oils, each one designed to achieve a specific therapeutic purpose. We had a choice of Respiration, Soothing/Calming or Restorative.

We selected Soothing/Calming, which was derived from chamomile. Cole poured the oil into the steaming bath and then gestured to a small rack that stretched from one edge of the tub to the other; it held an assortment of muds and exfoliating scrubs (including some for sensitive skin types, such as mine) for cleansing and invigorating our skin prior to massage.

As our massage therapists prepared to leave us to our bat h, Tarissa offered us a menu of a half-dozen soothing soundtracks from which to choose. With all of these important decisions taken care of, they instructed us to set the 20-minute timer on the tub and enjoy ourselves.

My husband and I disrobed and slowly slipped into the 105-degree bathwater, enveloping ourselves in the velvety suds and allowing the steam and variable speed jets to work their magic for the first few minutes. Then, we painted each other’s faces with thick mud masques, laughing at our reflections in the mirrored wall beside us. Next, we took turns rubbing the exfoliating scrub onto one another’s arms, necks and backs, creating a deep, pleasurable, tingling sensation on every inch of our skin. After we rinsed off, we spent the last few minutes just floating together in the tub.

When the timer sounded, we wrapped ourselves in towels and pressed icy washcloths to our faces, which had an unexpectedly invigorating effect. As we stretched out on the side-by-side massage tables, we were already in a total state of relaxation — and the massage was still ahead!

Cole and Tarissa rejoined us a few minutes later, ready to continue our Ritual of Two. For more than an hour, they quietly and masterfully massaged and kneaded every last modicum of tension from our bodies. I felt as though I was drifting away on the peaceful, lulling waters of the Bermuda coast, which sparkled just beyond the thinly curtained picture windows of our couples’ treatment suite.

Afterward, they led us back to the couples’ lounge for a special aprèsmassage treat: an artfully arranged fruit and cheese plate for two. It was the ultimate replenishment after letting go of all our cares and concerns.

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