Beyond 101: Go on a wellness vacation

For many, many years, I have fantasized about going on a spa vacation somewhere.  Spending a week or so sitting on a chaise in a plush white robe, getting my feet massaged while eating bon bons, looking at gorgeous views while sipping scrumptious cocktails… Just the idea of it was enough to make me relax and smile.  But after spending a minute or two in the delicious reverie, the more practical side of me shook my own shoulders and snapped my mind out of the daydream.  Practical Stef told daydreamy stef that such a vacation would be too expensive (and much too frivolous) to spend our household’s hard-earned money on.  So almost immediately after imagining what such a respite might be like, I dismissed the idea, and quickly returned my attention to more sensible matters before me.

But last month I hit a mental wall.  I was tired of work, tired of my routines, tired of doing laundry and getting groceries and tending to the house, tired of life in general.  I wasn’t depressed, and I wasn’t upset – I was just experiencing a subtle malaise.  Low-grade irritability.  Mild restlessness.  Slight impatience with people and things around me.  Once again, my mind drifted to a blissful (if vague) resort location somewhere – a place surrounded by nature, staffed by highly-attentive employees who treated me as their Number One Guest, with facilities that offered every spa-related amenity I could think of (i.e., steam rooms, saunas, massages, facials, body wraps, pedicures, and on and on….).  Only this time, when Practical Stef came to put a pin into the delightful thought bubble that daydreamy stef was enjoying, I stepped in, and told Practical Stef to back off.  Daydreamy stef and I were not only going to enjoy the idea of a spa vacation, but we were going to take some action to make it happen.

I spend ten minutes online doing very cursory research.  I was prepared to drive as far as 800 miles away if I found a location that seemed like a good fit for me (i.e., offering a variety of services at a reasonable price [and if it had a health-related slant, all the better]) – but surprisingly, I found a nearly ideal wellness center in a suburb just 20 minutes from my home.  Could my fantasized vacation be so easy to turn into reality?  Tentatively, I emailed the center – and learned that they had a room available for the very week I had open on my calendar.  I embraced serendipity, and booked a five-day vacation immediately.  I was going to spend a week at a spa!

Yesterday I returned from my wellness getaway – and oh boy, it was truly fantastic.  Here’s a quick rundown of what I did:

  • Took a yoga class every single day (which is a HUGE treat for me!).
  • Tried Zumba, Dance Aerobics, and Cardio Dance classes – and learned that I am not a fan of studio dancy/cardio-based classes, no matter how “fun” they sound.  So now I know.  🙂
  • Got one of the best massages of my life.  (Thank you Phyllis!)
  • Got a facial – and an entirely new skin-care protocol.  (Apparently my self-created skin-care regime was total crap.  [The look on the aesthetician’s face as I described what I did to my skin each morning and night was really quite priceless.]  She bluntly told me to stop my nonsense immediately, and to follow her directions instead.  Done.)
  • Read spiritual articles (which caused me to pause, reflect, and smile).
  • Took long walks in nature.
  • Ate yummy vegan foods.
  • Sat in a steam room (a first for me!).
  • Sat outside on deck chairs, gazed off into the distance, and spend hours simply enjoying the view, the sunshine, the stillness, and my own breath.
  • Slept – a LOT.  (As in, 8-10 hours a night [instead of my usual 5-6 hours], as well as a 60-minute nap each day [just for good measure].)
  • But best of all, I threw my usual highly-structured, highly-disciplined schedule (and mindset) out the window, and spent every day doing only what I wanted, whenever I wanted.  Want to sleep in until 7 am?  Fine!  8 am?  No problem!  Want to read magazines at 2 in the afternoon?  Have fun!  Hate the dance class going on right now?  Leave in the middle of it!  Want to eat fruit and cake for dinner?  Go for it!  [Yup, I totally did all of these things.  It was ah-may-zing.]

While this list conveys some ideas of my vacation, I think seeing images from the trip might help impart even more of the lovely spirit of my stay.

First up: Pictures of the building itself.  It’s a very inviting space, with many different options:

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One the amenities at this center that I particularly appreciated was the meditation tower:

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In addition to catering to physical, mental, and emotional well-being, the center also places a lot of emphasis on art and aesthetics.  Here is a SMALL sample of the different styles of art that filled the space:

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And beautiful aesthetics were not limited to the indoors.  The entire property surrounding the center was gorgeous:

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When I booked the trip, I wasn’t sure if I would want to stay at the center for five days.  (I thought I might get bored, and therefore might want to leave early.)  However, when my departure day arrived, I was genuinely sad to leave; I had a truly wonderful vacation.  It was worth every penny.  Go Daydreamy Stef!


(Addendum: The Monday after I returned from this vacation [i.e., September 30, 2013], I received a small envelope in the mail from The Marsh.  I couldn’t imagine what they needed to send me [as I was just there], so I curiously opened the enclosure.  Inside, I found a hand-written note from Phyllis [the woman who gave me one of the Top 5 best  massages of my life] thanking me for coming to the spa, and a small certificate for 10% off my next service at The Marsh.  Wow!  I continue to grow more impressed with this center, and with their staff.  Amazing service!)

About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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15 Responses to Beyond 101: Go on a wellness vacation

  1. it is always right to treat oneself nice!


  2. 52BrandNew says:

    Fun! I did a 2 night yoga retreat at Kripalu a couple of years ago. I’d love to return one day. 3 days was just not enough. Your retreat sounds like heaven!


  3. Jennie Saia says:

    I am so happy for you. Usually daydreaming about this, followed by a hot bath, is enough to tide me over… but someday, I will remember Daydreamy Stef and actually do it! I’m so glad you had some you time.


  4. Ruth says:

    Good thing Daydreamy Stef won out! WOW. What a vacation. I like your thinking. Love the pics to get the sense of it.


    • Stef says:

      It was one of the best vacations I have had in a LONG time. I think photos often tell an even more compelling story than words do. I’m glad you found them helpful!


  5. Arman says:

    WOW!!!! Now that is one seriously great vacation! I love the photos and your storytelling with them 🙂 Maybe its time to put the practical arman on the backburner and just go for the vacation that I have been longing for! Everytime I read your blog, I get inspired! Thank you!


    • Stef says:

      It was a seriously FANTASTIC vacation! I definitely recommend practical arman take a hiatus, and let Daydreamy Arman run the show for a while. 🙂 If I have inspired you to take some time for yourself, I will feel incredibly honored!


  6. Touch2Touch says:

    You certainly picked a winner first time out of the box!
    Spas are marvelous inventions, as you have discovered. Of course you don’t get bonbons —- but you certainly get everything else you were daydreaming about.
    Go, Stef!


    • Stef says:

      I was very lucky to select such a great location for my first spa vacation – and so close to home, too! It was very dreamy; indeed, I still smile when I think about it. 🙂


  7. Pingback: #100: Participate in a Tricycle online retreat | Smile, kiddo.

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