Beauty & Wellness
The Grand Treatment At The Mayflower Inn and Spa
By Don Rosendale
“Ten fifty” the desk clerk says nonchalantly, announcing the tariff for a 21-hour mid-week spa package at the Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, CT, a five-star country-house hotel of impressive proportions and gorgeous design.
By “ten fifty,” he means one thousand and fifty bucks for one night. Indeed, while the Inn and Spa are definitely not for the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” set, it’s not out of line with the destinations for the G5/One57 crowd that flocks to resorts of Mayflower caliber. For example, the Hotel du Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera, which is the gold standard of this crowd, currently offers you a single room in the off season for €830 or a tad over $1,150 at this week’s exchange rate. And while du Cap may have movie stars and the Mediterranean, it doesn’t have a 20,000-square-foot spa where the staff-to-client ratio usually is around 5 to 1. (Yoga studio pictured at right.)
The Inn changed hands in August, from individual owners in a hotel chain (albeit a very upscale British group), and the question is—has their standard slipped? The answer: Not one millimeter. The dictionary says a spa is a place people go to “take the waters,” and the Mayflower Spa is perhaps symbolically placed because it’s on the spot where Chief Waramaug of the Wyanoke Indians would visit for its healing waters. While the concept of a spa brings to mind rows of patrons on StairMasters attacking those extra pounds that make a size 6 vintage Halston snug, Helen Brown, the spa’s manager, says the goal there is not 110 pounds, but a blood pressure of 110/80, relieving the stresses of 60-hour work weeks and detoxing the body from too many Havana cigars and single malt scotches.
The Inn and the spa, 100 yards away from each other, are totally different environments. The Inn has four-poster beds in its 30-odd rooms, what looks to be Colefax and Fowler fabrics, a vest-pocket library with a roaring fireplace, leather armchairs no doubt rescued from some gentleman’s club, and shelves of books guests actually might read arranged alphabetically, plus a tasteful bar and dining room. There’s talk of major improvements in 2014, though there doesn’t seem to be much improvement needed.
Trek up the hill to the spa where Brown presides, and it’s all mute in sight and sound. Peaceful. Pristine but soothing contemporary white in decor. Bleached pickled-oak floors. “I want people to purify their bodies,” says Brown, with only the slightest hint of her English heritage and clear skin that is no double a tribute to her genes as well as the spa treatments. Born in Kent and educated in Wales, she says the gentle music played in the spa area are “healing sounds”; the ambiance of the place feels altogether very healing indeed.
As testimony to this, we have the firsthand notes of the spa experience by my friend Joe (not his real name). Joe considers 60 hours a short work week and strives to keep the internet at a major investment bank functioning; he took the Mayflower waters this fall. The following are some excerpts: “The Garmin satellite GPS got me from the UES to Washington, but then missed the Mayflower driveway. BMW right at home with a parking lot of Range Rovers, Bentleys, and Audi A6’s…For dinner was more than satisfied by the recommended fava bean risotto, tomato Carpaccio, pork tenderloin with apple sauce. Morning skipped the offer of chauffeured drive from the inn to the spa, trudged up 100 yards of steep steps. Got the pulse going.
“At spa. No shoes, no Diet Coke, no fizzy waters, took spring water with lemon. Pre-packaged handful of trail mix or energy bar. No WSJ, no IBD; The New York Times had its business section removed. Sound of muted Vivaldi. Couches, walls, floor white, cushions with pale blue trim. (At these prices, wouldn’t Tiffany Blue be more appropriate?) Lucky to have Helen Brown as personal guide. Place seemed very Japanese to me but Helen explains it is more Moroccan-inspired.”
“First stop indoor pool. Radiant floor, air and water temp all precise 86 degrees. No chlorine smell. Helen turned on heat in ‘thermal sanctuary,’ like a sauna with marble slabs that can be heated to 104. Steam available. No musty smell like the club.”
“Decided to pass on Pilates, thermal wrap, and zumba for now, opted for a walk. Helen offered choice of a labyrinth (modeled of course from the famous one at Chartres Cathedral in France) or a maze, and explained the difference between the two. Both good for silent contemplation of things other than hackers and Windows 8. Took a hike in the woods behind spa. Massage. Whole time only saw one other guest in the spa. In earlobe to toenail robe (white). NOTE TO SELF: Come back with Clarissa for Valentine’s Day.”
The Mayflower Inn and Spa
118 Woodbury Road, Route 47, Washington, CT