Ginormous Golden Tub
I’ll never forget the magical day I spent at the Sonoma Mission Inn Spa in the summer of 2002. Feeling a little beat up after a rough year, I was more than willing to take my mother up on her generous offer of a birthday spa trip. Determined to “get happy”, I soaked in warm spring waters, enjoyed a sumptuous array of treatments and in the afternoon, spontaneously made an appointment to receive an intuitive reading from Sonoma Mission Inn Spa’s in-house clairvoyant.
Having just broken up with my boyfriend, I was more than a little cynical when the reader described the great love that would someday enter my life. Yet this down to earth psychic described my future man so specifically, right down to his eyelashes, (seriously), that I couldn’t help but get a little hopeful. I left that day not only relaxed and thoroughly pampered, but also excited to get back to my life, ready and prepared for new adventures to come.
Fast forward eight years and I’ve returned to Sonoma Mission Inn Spa, this time on a spring day in 2010, eager to re-capture the magic of that long ago summer retreat. Now happily partnered with a man who exactly fits the description from that reading so many years ago, I’m ready to re-experience the Sonoma Mission Inn Spa once more.
For this visit I’ve decided to indulge my love of all things lavender, booking a “Lavender Kur” one of the Spa’s popular specialty treatments. The Kur includes a bath, wrap and massage, each step amply infused with the relaxing aroma of lavender. After changing into my robe in the spa’s spacious and generously supplied locker room, I walk down the spiral staircase and pass the gently bubbling “girl with a vase” fountain that leads to the main spa area.
My therapist, Lisa, cheerfully greets me by name at the front desk and leads me up the hacienda style stairs to my treatment room. Imagine my delight when the door opens to a ginormous golden claw foot tub, filled to the brim with lavender bubbles. At this point it becomes hard for me to pay too much attention to Lisa’s careful description of my treatment, because in my mind, I’m already soaking in the giant golden bathtub of my dreams. Sure enough, I’m soon neck high in fragrant bubbles, sipping cucumber water and leaning back against a thoughtfully arranged towel at the head of the tub.
After just enough soaking time, a knock on the door signals the next step of my treatment. I dry off and Lisa gently applies an aloe vera, lavender and eucalyptus essential oil mixture to my skin, wrapping each limb as she goes. Once I’m firmly ensconced in this fragrant mixture, my face, head and feet are given a thorough massage with a rich lavender cream. Then, I’m unwrapped and given a complete body massage with lavender oil. The grand finale is a mini-acupressure treatment on my feet, followed by refreshing hot towels. Thoroughly relaxed and “lavenderized” Lisa guides me to the waiting room where I rest a minute before enjoying the signature “bathing ritual”.
As one of the only spas in the country with its own supply of thermal mineral water, the Sonoma Mission Inn beautifully showcases this unique feature in a carefully designed indoor bathing area. I first soak in the main warm pool, admiring the overhead sun and moon mural, soothingly painted in hues that complement the overall color scheme of the spa. From this mineral water oasis, I next venture towards the Eucalyptus infused wet sauna, and then to the showers, where I exfoliate with a Rosemary Eucalyptus scrub (thoughtfully provided in every shower). After several rounds of this treatment, I’m so thoroughly relaxed I wonder if I’ll even be able to drive home.
Staff at both the spa and the resort are so gracious I began to wonder if there really is something in the water, possibly a “happy drug” that induces hospitable behavior. After talking with Mary Low, a spa manager, I began to understand that part of the employee vibe is due to the Fairmont itself. As a company that prides itself on employee treatment, staff receives such perks as a company cafeteria complete with homemade soup and organic greens, as well as discounts at a variety of Fairmont locations.
Low, who worked as a massage therapist at the Sonoma Mission Inn first in 1993, left the spa and then returned in a managerial position i after the hotel and spa were bought by the Fairmont Resort in 2006. Asked about the Fairmont’s environmental ethics, I was pleased to learn about the many initiatives implemented by the company in their efforts to “go green”. From the organic, local and paraben-free spa products to the organic eggs and butter used throughout the resort, I was more than a little impressed with the Fairmont’s commitment to greening the planet.
Though I wasn’t able to get another window on my future during this visit to the Sonoma Mission Inn, Mary Low said that intuitive readings continue to be a popular offering at the spa. Besides tarot and clairoyvoyant readings, the spa menu also offers such unique offerings as chakra readings and energy balancing.
Confident that the magic of the Somoma Mission Inn Spa is still alive and well, I can’t wait to return to soak once more in the pools, enjoy a summer treatment and bask in the soothing environment of this special place.
Spa Scoop My favorite spa features
Sonoma Mission Inn Spa
Little Touches: foot acupressure and hot towels at end of treatment
Spa Snacks: seasonal fresh fruit, organic tea selection and dried veggie chips
Lotions and Oils: Tara’s Aromatherapy. Organic, locally owned spa product line
Wellness Program: A seasonal program offered by the spa that includes guided hiking and biking tours, yoga, wellness workshops and more.