The holidays are a busy, stressful time of the year, and Silicon Valley is a busy, frenetic kind of place. Who would have thought there would be a place right in the heart of it that you can escape to and get away from it all? The Four Seasons Hotel at Silicon Valley is located right off the busy, noisy 101 freeway. Right across the highway there's a huge strip mall with retailers like IKEA, Best Buy and the Home Depot. All around the place, people and buses and bikes and cars are hustling and bustling -- but from inside the hotel, you would never know. And once you step inside their Spa, you literally enter an oasis of calm and peace.
Last week the Spa at Four Seasons Silicon Valley invited me to try one of their spa treatments and experience their luxurious service. I'm not a regular spa-goer (although I probably would be if I could afford it!), but I love indulging in a pampering session as a special treat. I've been running myself ragged lately, so in keeping with my newly adopted mantra of Taking Care of Me, I gladly accepted -- and I'm sharing every step of my experience on this post. I know that many of you already know the drill (and some of you may even have a treatment every second Tuesday), but some of you may never have been to a spa and are wondering what the heck goes on in there! You might be hesitant to ask around (for fear of people saying, What? you've never been to a spa??), so this post will give you a general idea.
1) We started with a delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant, Quattro. I'll blog about their superb food in a future post, but for now I'll just say that it was everything a pre-spa lunch should be: nourishing, hydrating, but on the light side. The spa can actually put together a package for you that includes lunch, but if you don't avail of that service, just try to eat light before your treatment.
2) After lunch, we left the restaurant and headed to the spa. Once inside the women's locker room, I was given a spa robe, a pair of slippers, and a locker to put my things in. You are supposed to disrobe for spa body treatments, but if you are extremely uncomfortable about being totally naked, they will give you some disposable underpants to put on. In any case, you're wearing a thick spa robe, so you're not walking around in your birthday suit.
3) Before my treatment, I spent about 10 minutes in the steam room -- this isn't the case for every type of spa treatment, but the spa director suggested it for mine. The steam room is entirely optional, and spa guests can use it before or after their treatments if they wish. If you do use the steam room, just remember to stay well-hydrated (the Spa has a dispenser of iced water right outside the steam room) and watch the clock, because you shouldn't stay inside a steam room for longer than 12-15 minutes. If only there were some sort of clock inside the steam room! I had to keep poking my head outside the door to peek at the clock (maybe they did that on purpose, so people wouldn't stay inside for too long?).
4) Once I got out of the steam room, a spa attendant came to fetch me, and led me to a private spa room where I'd be receiving the treatment. I didn't take my phone into the room (yes, that's how relaxed and unplugged I was!), so I couldn't take a photo of the room, but here's a photo from their website:
Soft instrumental music was playing in the room, and my spa attendant dimmed the lights down even further, so everything was soothing, relaxing and utterly calming. And the treatment hadn't even started!
5) The attendant left the room so I could disrobe and slip underneath the sheets; she returned after about 5 minutes, and started the treatment that I had selected, a Body Sculpting Cellulite and Colon Therapy treatment. Here's a description:
Redefine and smooth your silhouette. A detoxifying fennel and birch peel-off body mask works in combination with specialist massage techniques to deeply cleanse the body’s systems, firm and smooth skin, stimulate circulation and reduce fluid retention. Cleansing of the colon through abdominal massage helps to detoxify the body from the inside out.
Pretty radical, huh? It sounded like quite a technical treatment, not something a first-timer or infrequent spa-goer would try. And abdominal massage? Colon Therapy? Gulp. I've always been a bit nervous about massages, because every time I get a hand or foot massage during a manicure or pedicure, they hurt. I didn't relish the thought of pain coursing through my body, but I decided to be a bit adventurous and put my trust in the Four Seasons.
I'm so glad I did! There was no unspeakable torture, just a wonderfully relaxing experience. The first thing the attendant did was lightly brush my body down with a cactus-bristle brush, in order to exfoliate the skin. Then she lightly massaged my legs, arms and abdomen. It didn't hurt at all; it felt absolutely wonderful! I think it was the first massage I've ever truly enjoyed.
Next up was the body wrap. The attendant slathered a body mask of fennel and birch all over my legs. The body mask was very cool and wet; the attendant warned me that some people find the smell a bit strong, but I had no problem with it.
Once I was covered in goo, she wrapped my legs up in plastic, then moved on to the Colon Therapy. She asked me to inhale slowly, then exhale, and as I exhaled she moved her hands over my abdomen in an upward, sideways, then downward motion, following the path of my intestine. When she first did it, I tensed my ab muscles because she was applying a bit of pressure, but once I got familiar with what she was doing, I relaxed, and it didn't hurt.
Next, she moved on to a head massage. I thought the pressure was a bit too much when she started massaging my temples, but before I could work up the energy to ask her to ease up, she moved on to massaging the nape of my neck, and I immediately dissolved into a contented heap. I drifted in and out of sleep throughout the entire 1-hour treatment, and before I knew it, the attendant was scrubbing the goo off my legs, and it was over.
6) After my treatment, I spent a few minutes relaxing in the spa lounge, sipping a cup of tea. It was a cold, rainy day, otherwise I probably would have spent some time at the pool, which is right outside the spa area. The Four Seasons Silicon Valley pool is amazing (I was there for an event a couple of years ago), and if you go to their spa, you should make sure you leave some time at the end of your treatment to relax.
7) Time to re-enter the real world -- but not without indulging in what I'm going to call their Rainforest Shower. The spa showers have showerheads directly above you and on two sides of the shower stall, as well as a handheld showerhead, so you are literally sprayed with water from all sides. I could have stayed in that shower all day! Here's a photo of it (the spa locker is not far from the showers so I quickly grabbed my phone and snapped this photo):
I left the Spa relaxed, but rejuvenated at the same time. It felt absolutely wonderful to have someone taking care of me for a change, and it's the perfect way to stay sane during the holidays! I highly recommend the Spa at Four Seasons Silicon Valley, and if the spas at the other Four Seasons locations are anything like this one, you should check them out!
If you live near the Four Seasons Silicon Valley, here are some great spa specials you can take advantage of (check your local Four Seasons property for spa rates, treatments and specials):
Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, the Spa celebrates its happy hour with 15% off any Spa service – just mention happy hour pricing when you book your treatment.
Spa Escape with American Express
Spa Escape ... exclusively when you book and pay with any American Express® Card
Reserve and pay for a 75-minute massage or facial, Monday thru Friday, with any American Express® Card -- and you'll get it for the price of 60 minutes when you mention the Spa Escape promotion at time of reservation (ends 3/15/2012).
Holiday Open House
How's this for a discount -- a free mini spa facial! The Spa is hosting a Holiday Open House on Thursday, December 1, 2011, from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. They'll have nibbles to nosh and spa holiday gifts and stocking stuffers to browse and buy. RSVP and reserve your free mini spa facial session at 1 (650) 470-2865.
Disclosure: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley treated me to a complimentary lunch and spa treatment . The views and opinions expressed here are my own.