March 2008

Heaven on Hilton Head

Author: Miranda Spencer

The Heavenly Spa by Westin

Their hands moved like professional harpists over my body, face, and scalp, applying natural lotions and masks so soothing that I melt like butter into the table. The hot stones being pressed and rolled over my legs created a cleansing sensation on my skin, as though the toxins that had been building up over the years were somehow being consumed. Breathing became completely effortless, and my mind ceased to worry and think about everything that I had to do or had already done. Later, while relishing my last moments in the heat of the sauna, I made a promise to myself, “If this is what heaven is like, then I promise not to commit another sin for the rest of my life.”

Heaven begins in the lobby. From the moment you walk through the doors of Heavenly Spa by Westin, you are greeted by comfort and relaxation. These emotions are triggered by the mixture of inspiring aromas, soothing music, tranquil waterfalls, welcoming elixirs of blueberry and white tea, and heated neck wraps.

Featuring 9,000 square feet of total feng shui euphoria, the spa is modernly decorated in dark woods, a rich pallet of cool blues, grays, and crèmes, and elegantly burning candles. It is equipped with two locker rooms, nine treatment rooms, a couple’s suite with whirlpool tub, and a beauty salon. This spa is indeed built to invigorate the five senses.

Pleasing aromas surround you in every room and stone-lined hallway. The eyes are gratified by the welcoming décor and dim lighting, and the palate is entranced by the Spa’s signature blueberry and white tea. The emotional sense is eased in a number of ways, one in particular by what Heavenly Spa calls the “burden basket.” The burden basket, a local Gullah tradition, is a small basket made of local sweetgrass, and is offered at the start of each treatment in which to “symbolically” place your burdens. While you indulge in your well-deserved relaxation time, the basket is placed outside of the treatment room so that your everyday stresses won’t hinder your spa experience.

The Heavenly Spa offers a multitude of signature treatments ranging from a sweetgrass foot massage, a couples massage, a rollersage massage, an awakening body wrap or sweetgrass surrender, an indigo facial, solar hand and foot therapy, hair services, waxing and more. My experience with the rollersage hot stone process from Stephen Ley and the indigo facial from Rebecca Sisler left me feeling subliminal.

To many, a “sense of place” is substantial for truly experiencing any destination. The Spa’s operations manager, Sabrina Frick, and marketing coordinator Ellen Lam both agree that local and natural beauties, such as indigo and sweetgrass, are purposefully incorporated into the spa’s treatments for sensorial and energetic reasons.

“Indigo,” says Lam, “is a crop on the island that has had a profound effect on the economic history of Hilton Head Island. The color and the vibrational energy is said to strengthen the body’s own energy through the ‘brow chakra,’ or the third eye.” The treatments using indigo are designed to soften the muscles of the body and to detoxify and purify the skin. Additional energy balancing techniques are integrated through color filters for the lighting of the room, and the sound of music in the tone or pitch of B.

The treatments are not limited to women’s desires of relaxation. According to Lam, 30 percent of shareholders are men. “They normally come in for a massage or for a pedicure,” she said. “Sometimes husbands and wives will come in and enjoy pedicures together while drinking champagne and eating meals ordered by room service,” added Frick.

Kids are even welcome, when accompanied by an adult, for salon care, ice cream mani/pedi’s, first facials, and makeup lessons. The Spa also provides promotions and discounts for groups such as businesses and bridal parties where champagne, chocolates, and other tasty indulgences are supplied. And if you want to take the experience home with you, a large variety of retail items and signature sets such as the sweetgrass body polish and Oprah Winfrey’s own favorite Comfort Zone line are available in the lobby area.

Heavenly Spa in Hilton Head Island is special. Not only is it the first Heavenly Spa built by Westin in the contiguous U.S., but it’s also one of only eight locations in the entire world, including Beijing, China, Langkawi Island, Malaysia, and Nadi, Fiji. Having a Heavenly Spa in our own lush backyard makes Hilton Head Island a more blissful, ideal destination.

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