By Joan Tupponce
Looking at the mosaic tiled lounger chair in the tepidarium at the recently opened Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, I thought to myself, “That can’t be comfortable.” It certainly was a contrast to have a stone chair in a room that takes its cue from the ancient Roman baths, where floors were heated by warm air. Anticipating cold, hard stone, I gingerly eased onto the lounger and was surprised to feel gentle warmth. The curved ergonomic design cradled my body, slowly relaxing my muscles. It definitely wasn’t the experience I imagined, but it is one I hope to repeat.
“Our treatments are still evolving,” says spa director Penny Kriel, noting the spa is one-of-a-kind. “Our big focus is the personalization of treatments.”
The spa, which is as sumptuous as it is comfortable, is decorated with light hues of beige throughout, from the walls to the comfy, overstuffed chaise longues in the relaxation lounge. Close to 20 treatments are offered here, as well as six different massages. The standard Swedish massage has been replaced with a well-being massage that is tailored to each guest: a treatment for dry hands and feet, for example, or soothing hot stones may be added to meet individual needs. Aromatherapy and essential oils are also customized for each guest.
After the massage, the remaining oil is bottled and sent home with guests. Says Kriel, “It’s something you don’t get other places. We can also provide nut-free and/or fragrance-free massage oils.”
Natural ingredients are incorporated into the oils and other treatments using seasonal, local produce and herbs. “Our aim is to grow most of the herbs, vegetables and fruits on the property,” explains Kriel. “We will be able to pick them fresh every day.”
Spa guests are encouraged to arrive up to 45 minutes prior to their treatments to have time to relax on the loungers and use the aroma-infused steam room or the vitality pool, complete with hydrotherapy jets heated at a toasty 96 to 104 degrees. The best way to wrap up a day of pampering is poolside at sunset with one of the resort’s flights of wines from a local vineyard. Need I say more?