Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, a 2000-room hotel and meetings venue on 41 acres on the Potomac, may be the largest non-casino hotel on the East Coast, so it’s no surprise, with 20,000 square feet for relaxation, pampering and exercise, that its Relâche Spa may also be the biggest spa. There are a lot of conventioneers and spouses longing to relax, or “relâche,” as they say in France.
The facilities are impressive: An indoor junior Olympic-sized 24-meter pool, open daily 5 a.m.–9 p.m., whose entire front glass wall opens up to a pool bar and lounge overlooking the Potomac; a 4,000-square-foot fitness center open 24/7 with 24 pieces of cardio equipment, including treadmills, bikes, cross trainers, and a row machine, each with television and radio, plus personal yoga and fitness trainers; a separate salon for beauty treatments and the spa itself–both open daily, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. weekends.
"Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, a 2000-room hotel and meetings venue on 41 acres on the Potomac, may be the largest non-casino hotel on the East Coast, so it’s no surprise, with 20,000 square feet for relaxation, pampering and exercise, that its Relâche Spa may also be the biggest spa."
The spacious high-ceilinged lobby is a sophisticated Art Deco setting: black and white striped marble floor, black wood chairs with white fabrics, mirrored frames and opaque glass. It leads to a dozen treatment rooms, of which the star is certainly the multi-windowed Couples Room in a prized corner location with wide-angle views of the Potomac and the marina, twin beds, a generous double-size shower at one end, and a whirlpool bath flanked by rose-swaddled candles at the other. Spa therapists can bring a variety of treatments (except for manicures and pedicures) to couples here. Another pan-treatment room, with hydrotherapy equipment, is being readied for VIP Spa Guests so they don’t have to move from room to room for different treatments.
I was booked for the signature Swedish massage but switched to the hot stone treatment (in deference to lower back problems). After a short wait in the Lounge, and some snacking in the bowl of nuts and dried fruit, I was led to one of the treatment rooms. The therapist placed four stones down my back, plus two each on back of thighs and arms, removing and replacing them as she massaged each area with hot oil. I turned over for the same procedure in front. There was no menu of aromatic oils, just one unscented oil for the whole treatment. Except for the vaguely non-soothing music, it was a nice simple straightforward treatment, a welcome change from some over-produced massages I’ve had in the past. It occurred to me that one reason might be that the spa and its products, like everything in the hotel, are managed by Gaylord.
Here’s a rundown of the main spa menu. All therapies include use of the sauna, steam room, and whirlpool.
Relâche Signature Massage (50 mins. $145 / 80 mins. $225). A Swedish massage for reducing stress, relieving tension, easing pain and improving circulation, customized for clients’ needs.
Soothing Stone Massage (50 mins. $145 / 80 mins. $225). The heat of smooth basalt river stones penetrates deep into the muscles, allowing them to completely unwind.
A Moment Together (50 mins. $290 / 80 mins. $450). A treatment of choice in the Couples Room.
Deep Tissue Massage (50 mins. $145 / 80 mins. $225). Direct deep pressure and slow, penetrating strokes ease chronic muscle tension and pain. Maximize this experience with a hydrotherapy relaxation soak.
Sports Massage (50 mins. $145 / 80 mins. $225). A therapeutic massage incorporates stretching, range of motion, and area-specific strokes to maximize full muscle performance and reduce recovery time for injured muscles. This is not a full body massage.
Aromatherapy (50 mins. $155 / 80 mins. $235). Essential oils sooth and detoxify, enhancing your massage for mind, body and spirit.
Focus Massage (25 mins. $75). Concentrates to release stress/tension for either neck, shoulders or back.
Skin treatments are where organic oils and ingredients are used.
Relâche Allure (60 mins. $145). . A signature customized facial rich in micronutrients nourishes your skin to support cellular renewal and repair. The head, neck and shoulder massage also improves the complexion and muscle tone.
Petite Facial (30 mins. $95). A mini version of the custom Relache Allure facial, applying a dermal resurfacing treatment for a refreshed complexion in just minutes.
Age-Defying Catio Vital (80 mins. $245). botanical antioxidants help skin against free radial damage, restoring its collagen for a tightened, hydrated complexion.
Peel and Life (60 mins, $185). This personalized treatment adapts to all skin types, using gyclic acid, to transform dull and tired skin into a radiant, firm and nourished complexion while a vitamin C specialty mask promotes a healthier, rejuvenated youthful glow.
Firming Eye Treatment ($35; only available with facial service). Antioxidants and peptides reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles.
Three special add-on treatments, available only with facials and massages (each $35):
Paraffin Treatments. Hands or feet are immersed in warm moisturizing paraffin to relax and soften stiff joints.
Hand and Foot Moisturizing Therapies. Revives tired hands or feet, especially for those who spend hours at a keyboard or on the move.
Calm Scalp Massage. Warmed aromatic oils are slowly drizzled onto the scalp and massaged to release tension, leaving hair silky smooth.
Scrubs (each 50 mins. $155):
Tropical Island Glow. Warm coconut milk is gently drizzled over the body in preparation for the pure sugar cane plus your choice of scented hydration from the tropics: star fruit or coconut or mango scent.
Enrich Body Treatment. For dry and dehydrated skin, the body is exfoliated and prepared for the hydration with essential oils and butters, plus a scalp massage.
Wraps (60 mins. $155):
De-stress Soothing Wrap. The meditative benefits of aromatherapy wrap. After exfoliation, you relax in the aromatic scents of chamomile, rosemary, and frankincense.
Citrus Detox Wrap. A powerful treatment for water retention. After exfoliation, an essential blend of rosemary, pine grapefruit, and juniper berry eliminates unwanted toxins smoothes and refines the skin.
Accompanying this is a full roster of salon services: manicures, pedicures, nail enhancements, hairstyling, make-up services, waxing, brow tinting, even hair highlights and roots touch-up, and more.
In deference to Gaylord’s convention population, the spa offers treatments for stressed-out male conventioneers: Meeting Relief, a specialized 50-minute massage with ginger and rosemary essential oils; For Gentlemen Only, a facial with nutrient-rich marine agents to refresh and invigorate razor-irritated skin; Detoxifying Hydrotherapy, a pressure-point treatment.
Several packages with many moving parts may entice conventioneer families with lots of time to relacher.
Versailles Indulgence (6 hours $495).
Relâche Signature Massage, Manicure Classique, Relâche Allure Facial, Pedicure Classique
Lunch: Simply Organic Salad & Smoothie (1 hour)
Your choice: Makeup Lesson / Shampoo & Style / Fitness Class.
PACKAGE ONE (120 mins. $255). Petite Facial, Manicure, Relâche Signature Massage.
PACKAGE TWO (180 mins. $330). Relâche Allure Facial, Relâche Signature Massage, Shampoo & Style.
PACKAGE THREE (120 mins. $255). Choice of Sport or Deep Tissue Massage, Petite Facial, Gentlemen Professional Haircut.
Couple’s Retreat (210 mins. $800). Relâche Signature Massage, Relâche Allure Facial, Relaxation Wrap, Tea for Two.
Relâche Spa at Gaylord National Resort, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745, Spa Information/Reservations: 301-965-4400, Website: www.gaylordnational.com