Story by Barbara Penny Angelakis
Photography By Manos Angelakis and courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Boston.
the Spa at Mandarin Oriental Boston
776 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199
Overlooking fashionable Back Bay, one of Boston’s most historic neighborhoods, is the elegant Mandarin Oriental Hotel and their luxurious five-star Spa. Every high-end amenity and service is available at the hotel, and the staff extends a warm welcome. From the first greeting by the door attendant, to the receptionist’s wide smile at check-in, to the housekeeper’s courtesy salutation in the hallway, you are made to feel as an honored guest.
My Mandarin Back Bay room, one of 148 guestrooms and suites, was large and beautifully appointed, with a wonderful view over the bustling neighborhood. The Mandarin is situated in the heart of the Back Bay, a short walk from elegant Newbury Street - the Rodeo Drive of Boston - and next to the Prudential Center, with their own entrance into that massive shopping mall. Boston is a walking city and from the Mandarin, walk in one direction and you will come across Copley Square and Trinity Church or in the opposite direction, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum situated in the Fenway Park neighborhood. As in any major city, parking is a horror but with rolls of quarters you can still park on the street, providing you do not plan to spend more then 2 hours at any one location.
I was in Boston to experience a new bespoke treatment offered by the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental called the Gemstone Vitality. The Spa operates under a philosophy that is guided by the Mandarin Oriental’s Asian heritage but which also incorporates the local culture into treatments that promote healing and well-being through a holistic approach to the body, mind and spirit of its guests. The Gemstone Vitality Spa Treatment takes advantage of the locally mined semi-precious gem stones of Garnet, Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz, and Amethyst, and merges them with custom-blended essential oils for a uniquely tranquil experience.
I passed through the elegant lobby to take the elevator up to the 4th floor which houses the Spa. Exiting the elevator, a wall of flowing water greeted me and transported me into an environment heavy with positive energy and fragrant scents. The pampering begins immediately as the lovely receptionist welcomed me with a cool drink and a warm towel before presenting me with a tray holding non-skid slippers to exchange for my shoes. The Spa Director Sharon Holtz came out to greet me and explain a bit about the new Gemstone Vitality treatment and how it was developed to incorporate the native environment into a treatment of well-being. She also explained that this treatment often leaves one in a state of such total relaxation that retracing one’s steps back to the reception area can be difficult without guidance. She recommended that I take time afterwards to integrate the treatment before rushing out to continue my day. The receptionist then walked me through the 16,000 square feet of space to orient me, explaining the layout and pointing out the Experience Showers, Ice Fountain, Vitality Pool, Quartz Crystal Steam Room, and relaxation room – a meditation area designed to rebalance energy.
Kenny, my aesthetician from Thailand, collected me from the waiting room and ushered me into one of the softly lit sanctuary suites for my treatment. The treatment began with a welcoming foot ritual. Once in a seated position, Kenny slid a large bowl of warm scented water out from under the chair. The bowl contained smooth river rocks and orchid petals were floating on the water. After placing my feet in the bowl for a few minutes, Kenny performed a foot and leg massage, and wrapped each leg in towels while he presented me with the four stones of Garnet, Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz and Amethyst, and asked me to hold each one until one “spoke” to me. They all felt wonderful to me but in the end I choose Amethyst, commonly known as the Wisdom Stone, which helps one focus during meditation and aids in the removal of emotional toxins from the body. The essential oils pared with Amethyst are Release or Flourish, but neither smelled right to me so we tried the essential oils for Smoky Quartz of Awaken and Reflect and Awaken smelled right to me. The properties of Smoky Quartz assist in relieving muscle tension and calming anxiety. Garnet helps relieve tension in the neck and lower back and alleviates feelings of sadness. The aromatherapy oils of Awaken or Flourish are pared with Garnet. Tourmaline calms the nerves and fights against heart disease and deflects negativity. The essential oils are Bloom or Release.
Back to my treatment; after the welcome foot soak, Kenny began the 1 hour 50 minute Gemstone Vitality treatment with a full body scrub of ground calendula seed. Calendula is a healing flower, native to New England. It compliments the use of native stones and oils. After the calendula was rinsed off, Kenny placed both the Amethyst and Smoky Quartz stones, one in each hand, and began a full body massage using the Awaken essential oil I had selected. I must say that the massage was outstanding and whether it was the stones I held in my hand or Kenny’s expertise, the massage dropped me into a wonderful space that left me a bit disoriented just as Spa Director Sharon Holtz had predicted.
After the massage, Kenny led me into the relaxation room which was all soft lights and comfortable couches separated by gauzy curtains. I could have spent a lot of time there but reality called and I finally had to depart. When I left the Spa the receptionist had to remind me to wait while she retrieved my jacket which she had checked when I arrived… as well as my shoes. Good thing she was on the ball.
Of course my Gemstone Vitality treatment was only one of the many rituals and specialty treatments available at the Mandarin Oriental Boston Spa. There are the usual massage, detox, water, body and facial treatments that you would expect to find, but here you also can find journeys and rituals that aid in physical as well as spiritual well-being. For a complete list of treatments visit www.mandarinoriental.com/boston
© May 2012 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.