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Posted by on Oct 30, 2007 in Spa Reviews | 0 comments

The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg




The theme of wellness through the centuries is carried out with such programs as The Williamsburg Regimen, a 50-minute guided walk inspired by the 18th century. It includes a brisk morning walk in the fresh air of the adjacent Audubon sanctuaries and the environs of Colonial Williamsburg s Historic Area.


With spa travel gaining in popularity with every passing year, it can be difficult for a new spa to distinguish and brand itself. The 20,000-square-foot Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, which opened in the spring of this year, had no such problem. Located as it is in a place where America s early history lives, the spa had a veritable timeline of healing methods and specific cures from which to draw.

The result: a splendid menu of services anchored by spa experiences inspired by each of the past five centuries.

From the 17th century and the wellness techniques of the Powhatan Indians, who heated their bodies in sweathouses and then plunged into cold water– is the Cleansing Hot Stones Experience (two hours, $265; couples, $525). This modern interpretation warms the body with hot stones, then wraps it in her-infused steaming linen to encourage the natural release of toxins. Aromatherapy clothes are applied to refresh the brow. The experience concludes with a full-body hot stone massage using oil infused with lavender, cypress, juniper and rosemary.

During the 18th century, doctors noted the relationship between cleanliness and health; they realized that dirt on the skin prevented the essential process of perspiration. And so people began mixing baths of herbal and apothecary, a ritual adapted for today s spa patrons in the Colonial Herbal Spa Experience (two hours, $265; couples, $525). This begins with a cleansing foot bath, followed by an orange-ginger body scrub, an herbal body wrap (using a variety of colonial herbs) and a signature Williamsburg massage.

African American traditions during the 19th century focused on the use of herbs for healing. In the Root and Herbal Spa Experience (two hours, $285; couples $565), the Spa translates this by incorporating body exfoliation and an herbal bath with a strengthening full body massage. The exfoliating High Road Powder helps to boost spirit and energy before a soak in an invigorating herbal bath steeped in Ritual Bath Tea and an invigorating massage.

The 20th century saw developments in medicine, health care, fitness, wellness and technologically advanced spa equipment. This latter development, coupled with the history of bathing rituals inspired the Williamsburg Water Cures Spa Experience (90 minutes, $245), which consists of a full-body dry-brush exfoliation, followed by a hydrotherapy Vichy shower rain massage, concluding with a traditional Aqua Latte bath to seal in the skin s moisture.

Late in the 20th century and continuing into the present day is the popularity of laser treatments and microdermabrasion. These inspired the Skin Rejuvenation Spa Experience (90 minutes, $165), which I chose during my visit. .I had experienced microdermabrasion just once, some years ago when the treatment first appeared on the spa scene. At that time, the treatment blasted particles at the skin to cleanse and exfoliate. Not only was it uncomfortable, it left my face an unsightly bright red color. When I learned that this version was particle-less, I was eager to try it. First, my esthetician Tanya performed a deep pore cleansing and skin analysis (dry, except around the nose) to prepare my face for a particle-free ultrasonic exfoliation. This was followed by an enzyme-rich mask that was specific to my skin type and an oxygen treatment to brighten my skin. For the final step, Tanya applied an antioxidant serum and vitamin-rich moisturizer. The results: similar to but much more gentle than the old-fashioned microdermabrasion. My skin was fresh and bright and I felt no need for makeup.

williamsburg-4After this hi-tech treatment, I chose a Colonial Manicure ($30) and Pedicure ($70). My esthetician, Shannon Kee explained that she would be using vegan nail products. Vegan? I asked. What did that mean? Apparently, most nail polishes and such use animal by-products; vegan meant that no such by-products are used. As it is the by-products that are used to make the polishes last longer, there is a trade-off here, one that I was willing to make. (Though the polish on my nails did not last as long as usual, the color on my toes did last, probably due to the fact that I do very little work with my toes.)

Shannon s nail techniques were gentle and thorough; she soaked and moisturized both hands and feet, then softened and conditioned cuticles instead of cutting them. I chose a pale beige polish for my hands and a sassy gold for my toes. My time in the nail salon virtually flew by. And while I was drying, Shannon thoroughly scrubbed and sanitized everything she had used for my mani/pedi. I like to prepare for the next client while you re here so you can see how careful we are. She added that everything was also cleaned regularly with bleach all of which was very reassuring, as there are many instances of unpleasant, even dangerous infections following nail treatments in unsanitary conditions.

My final spa treatment was unplanned. Shortly before I traveled to Williamsburg, I had been suffering with really nasty allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion and a hacking cough. Hoping to ease my symptoms so I could enjoy the historic district, I booked a detox massage (one hour, $110) and asked my therapist, Nicole Carson, to focus on the appropriate areas. I asked Nicole if we could do most of the work with me facing up, as the face-down-in-the-cradle position was really difficult with extreme nasal congestion. She assured me that would be no problem and began what was a soothing and relaxing Swedish massage that used warm herbal towels and blends of aromatic oils. Though she did work on my arms and legs, she directed most of her efforts to my head and upper body, where it was most needed. When we were finished, I felt quite relaxed, and in the hours that followed, there was a notable improvement in symptoms, with the cough coming on less frequently and with the congestion easing.

williamsburg-5All in all, my experience at the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg was both healing and pampering. The spa has 12 treatment rooms and a menu that was designed by Sylvia Sepielli, recipient of the 2006 International Spa Association (ISPA) Visionary Award. It not only draws on the healing techniques of America s past, it also includes a full complement of facials, body treatments, baths and skin and nail care and spa packages.

The adjoining Fitness Training Quarters (daily fee $20) offer a fine selection of state-of-the-art equipment, including elliptical machines, stair steppers, treadmills, weight training stations and free weights. Group exercise classes are also available.

The theme of wellness through the centuries is carried out with such programs as The Williamsburg Regimen, a 50-minute guided walk inspired by the 18th century. It includes a brisk morning walk in the fresh air of the adjacent Audubon sanctuaries and the environs of Colonial Williamsburg s Historic Area. Maps are available for guests who wish to take their own walks.

Another option is the 50-minute Training Club Exercise Class, inspired by the 19th century. Training club swinging, best described as circular weight training, was introduced into American physical fitness culture in the early 1860s and enjoyed immense popularity. The classes here pair traditional exercises with music and training techniques from yesteryear to build strength, coordination, endurance and patience.

The spa facilities, which include private lockers, steam rooms, signature shower and whirlpools are immaculate and inviting. The spacious relaxation area is so comfortable, it s difficult to leave.

The Spa is located steps from the hotels of The Resort Collection of Colonial Williamsburg. It is open to day visitors as well as to resort guests.

For information and reservations, call 800-688-6479 or visit:

During my spa getaway, I stayed at The Williamsburg Inn, the crown jewel of Colonial Williamsburg Hotels. The landmark property, conceived and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., opened in April 1937. It remains, as it was in his day, a place rich in tradition created by an accomplished team of architects, craftsmen and artisans–a hotel that has not only welcomed royalty from all over the world, it has also served as a second home to generations of guests.

williamsburg-1Though my room was as spacious and comfortable as the suites in some hotels (guest rooms average 500 square feet) and my bathroom a sybaritic study in marble, the knockout accommodation at the Inn is The Queen s Suite, named in honor of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, who stayed in the suite for her 1957 visit for the 350th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. The furnishings are typical of the Regency period, and most are handcrafted reproductions, some designed specifically for this suite. The drapery fabrics are documented reproduction silks from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Dining at the Inn is a pleasant and satisfying experience; the food, whether a light snack, room service or a full meal in the Regency Room, is beautifully prepared and presented. In keeping with the spirit of Williamsburg, I had one dinner at the King s Arms Tavern, an 18th century style chop house where the wait staff is dressed in period clothing and the menu includes drinks of the period and such delectables as Peanut Soup and Collops of Pork.

If I had been a golfer, I would undoubtedly have headed straight for the 18-hole Golden Horseshoe Gold Course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and ranked consistently as one of the best in the nation. As it was, I spent much of my free time in the historic district, watching the colonists debate, incite revolution and carry on with the business of living in their various shops and enterprises. One evening, I was part of a very convincing one hour re-creation of an event that occurred in Williamsburg in 1727: the trial of two accused pirates, John Vidal and Martha Farley. I won t reveal how the verdict went, but I will say that we, in the courtroom, voted correctly.

And on the day I had to leave for home, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, a veritable treasure trove that including three centuries worth of portraits, furniture, musical instruments and other objects that perfectly complemented the history in which I d been immersed for the past three days.

For more information about the Williamsburg Inn as well as general visitor information, call 1-800-HISTORY or check:

Note: Other accommodations are the Williamsburg Lodge, Colonial Houses, Governor s Inn and the Woodlands Hotels & Suites.

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Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Bargains | 0 comments

Spas Get Creative With Top Massages

Spas Get Creative With Top Massages


According to the ISPA 2012 U.S. Spa Industry Study, the number one treatment offered at spas in the United States is a massage. Of the massages offered in spas across the United States the most popular are deep tissue/sports, Swedish, pregnancy, hot stone, and aromatherapy.

Massages are the top treatments at spas nationwide.

The brine inhalation-light therapy lounge at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev.

Deep tissue, otherwise known as a sports massage, is the most popular massage offered at 95 percent of spas in the United States. This massage technique separates muscle groups and loosens fascia (a thin layer of connective tissue covering and supporting or connecting the muscles or inner organs of the body) so as to bring about the realignment of the body and freedom of movement.

“To enhance the experience of the popular deep tissue massage we have recently added the bamboo massage to our menu. This innovative treatment uses heated bamboo rods as an extension of the therapist’s hands to roll and knead the tissue,” said Jackie Schieding, head concierge at Bella Sante Spa in Boston, Mass.

The Swedish massage is offered at 94 percent of all spas in the United States and is used to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation.

Angela Avellino, assistant spa director at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. said, “Warm basalt stones are incorporated into our Swedish massage to enhance the guest desired outcome. Guests have the option of lotion, gel or oil and can choose from lavender, citrus ruby grapefruit, peppermint or sandalwood.”

Prenatal massage is therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the special needs of the mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of pregnancy and is offered at 89 percent of all spas in the United States.

“Our prenatal treatment utilizes a synergy of essential oils that actually assist the body during the vast amount of changes happening during pregnancy. Our goal is to make the mom-to-be as comfortable and relaxed as possible and listen to her needs, whether it be her feet, low back or any area that is strained or compromised to allow the body some time to repair and regenerate,” said Ann Brown, spa director at Spa Shiki in Lake Ozark, Mo.

Hot stone massage is when the therapist uses smooth, heated stones, either as an extension of their own hands, or by placing them on the body while they massage other parts of the body. Stone massages are offered at 87 percent of spas in the United States.

Bailey Polifka, spa manager at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev. said, “We recommend to our guests that after a hot stone massage they should relax in the brine inhalation-light therapy lounge.  It is the perfect complement for the body to cool down and receive the added respiratory benefits from the salt aerosols and chromatherapy via the optic nerve.”

Eighty-four percent of spas in the United States are offering aromatherapy massages. Aromatherapy massage includes the application of essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers during the massage.

“One of the most popular massages at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey is our cocoa massage, which offers aromatherapy benefits through its use of cocoa. This treatment allows guests to release the tension and stress from their body while relaxing their mind and spirit through the scent of chocolate,” said Shian Wing, spa director at The Spa at Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa.

Rather than adding different components to current treatments, some spas are combing treatments to create a unique package treatment for their guests.

“One of our most popular massages is our massage sampler. This massage combines five different modalities into one. This 60/90 minute massage incorporates deep tissue, aromatherapy, reflexology, Swedish, and hot stones into one continuous service. Our guests love it. It is a great first massage for guests not sure what they want to try,” said Kate Mearns, spa director at The Spa in Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va.

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in Bargains | 0 comments

The Spa At Kingsmill: An Unexpected Gem

The Spa At Kingsmill: An Unexpected Gem


Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia has been known for its golf first and tennis second. But that may soon change: the spa is improving at a rapid pace and reaching for world-class.

Spa manager, Shari McGhee, and her team are constantly on the lookout for new natural products and Shari is willing to have those tried out on her. Her excitement and enthusiasm are contagious throughout the spa and among its therapists.

Since Kingsmill was purchased by Xanterra Parks & Resorts in 2010, funds have been allocated for major spa improvements each year, and it shows. This year, anti-bacterial macrobiotic flooring was added, and the plans go on and on. Shari’s ideas are boundless and she is great at prioritizing what she feels is the most beneficial.

My day started with a tour of the spa, followed by a deep tissue massage ($110), signature renewing facial ($100), and finishing with a shampoo with deep conditioning, blow-dry and style ($45).

Kingsmill Spa offers so many standard and unique treatments in each category of service. Of its nine different massages, the sampler is a good choice for someone who is uncertain about what they want to experience. Most massages are either 50 or 75 minutes. Five different facials are offered, as well as three peels, plus enhancements. Body treatments are worth mentioning, as six are offered; the decadent chocolate wrap sounds good enough to eat. Four different manicures and three pedicure selections are offered.

The salon performs hair styling and coloring, as well as make-up and waxing.

As some men have finally caught on to the benefits of spending time at a spa, they have been provided with a full line of services.

The wet suite includes a whirlpool, sauna and steam room.  Men and women have separate waiting/quiet rooms.

I think Kingsmill Spa has all the features of a destination spa.  Attached to the spa is a sports club with indoor and outdoor pools, as well as a state-of-the art fitness center. I believe the selection of packages will keep expanding and improving. For an established resort, the spa prices seemed reasonable to me.

Kingsmill Spa has indoor and outdoor pools.

Kingsmill Spa has all the features of a destination spa.

Accommodations at Kingsmill are condos, so a group can easily get together for a getaway. If you want to leave the property, shuttles are available to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.  The Williamsburg Winery is also a worthwhile stop if you are driving.

Check out their spa packages online at the Kingsmill Spa.

Kingsmill Resort

1010 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185

800.965.4772 or 757.253.8230

Maralyn D. Hill, The Epicurean Explorer, is president of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).

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Posted by on Jun 30, 2004 in Spa Reviews | 0 comments

Architect of Well Being: Tag Galyean

Architect of Well Being: Tag Galyean


SPA REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON TAG GALYEAN, AIA, founder and master design conceptualist of the TAG Studio in West Virginia, a group of resort design specialists nationwide who collaborate in defining the needs of each resort s environment, establish long-term planning and design concepts, and participate in all design decisions.

TAG attended Stanford University and the Pratt Institute and received a bachelor of architecture degree, with honors. He has served as Governor of Cranbrook Schools, thesis advisor at MIT, Resort Master Plan speaker for the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and guest lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

If you ve visited spas at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Greenbrier Hotel, Turnberry Isle Resort, The Hotel Hershey, La Quinta Resort and Club, or The Broadmoor Hotel, you ve seen and experienced the work of TAG Galyean, an award-winning resort design consultant with more than 30 years of experience.

Recently Spa Review spoke with TAG about his work and his vision.


SR: Water, light, and color are the key elements in spa design. Please explain.

TG: There is an inter-relationship among all these elements. They are serene, comforting, clean, and fresh; they take you out of the material world into the spiritual space that is free-flowing and translucent.

SR: One of the most exciting recent spa innovations you ve introduced is the Silver Shower, with a price tag of $100,000. Why so expensive?

TG: The shower has traditionally been used in pre-massage hydro-heat therapies. It s been historically known since Roman times. At first it was delivered in pools of water; the actual shower phenomenon was only possible after the turn of the century, with the introduction of modern plumbing.

The first luxury spa post-World War I was created at the Greenbrier. They had a shower that was the severe Scotch spray or Swiss shower. We perfected that version there in 1987. For every spa since then, we ve created a unique shower in presentation and environment. Regarding the Silver Shower, hydrotherapy has traditionally been attendant driven, with someone adjusting the controls and so forth. In the last three years, we ve taken that concept and added technology. Now at the Broadmoor spa which we re expanding and re-doing though it s only 10 years old we will have two Silver Showers using 18 showerheads, electronically controlled, wired to a computer with 2 touch screens and programmed to customize the experience for each individual. The attendant will input the size and preference of the guest; the shower takes over and delivers a five-minute treatment that is truly spectacular, relaxing, energizing, better than anything we can manually control.

SR: You ve stated the bathtub is the second key important hydrotherapy in a spa. What s new in tub design?

TG:We have 12 new flow-through bathtubs at the Broadmoor. They do not re-circulate any water; the water flows through. It enters the tub over the shoulder area, then spills over the infinity edge at the foot of the tub. It has a complex filtering system with no chlorine. In short, it gets you back to the natural hot water spring; the water is all fresh and clean. Once people understand that concept, they won t want to be in any other kind of tub again.

SR: What spa innovations do you foresee in the future?

TG:There are two kinds of spas, the destination spa, where the guest can have a life-changing experience and the two-hour kind of experience, which is more like an amenity. I don t see the destination spa changing a great deal, except that perhaps there will be more of a medical side to it. The destination spa has a small but loyal market that is growing incrementally. The amenity spa, which is available at many resorts, offers more of a pampering interlude and doesn t really try to change your life. Pampering is still the major desire there, still experienced mainly by women, though men are becoming less fearful and more interested. A growing number of people are interested in what benefits these treatments offer. Consumers are getting smarter and better informed; they don t want faddish treatments rubbing barbecue sauce all over themselves they are looking for treatments that are sound and have benefits.

SR: Your plans for the future?

TG:As I said, we re updating and expanding the Broadmoor; the opening is in April. We ve added ten rooms, freshened it up and introduced the spectacular new hydrotherapies. The Broadmoor is the only place on earth where those two therapies–the Silver Shower and the new tubs are available. We re expanding the Hershey Spa, doubling the capacity and adding a salon, so that it s a significant part of the spa and not just a footnote. In the future, we ll be working on Tucker s Point in Bermuda. That will be an extremely high-end resort hotel and residences; the spa there will set a new standard. Also, we re starting a project with Colonial Williamsburg, an upscale resort that will have a medical clinic and spa.

The TAG Studio
219 E. Washington St.
Lewisburg, WV 24901
(304) 647-3520

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