Spa Weekends at the Inn at Perry Cabin
Winter blues got you down? Book a spa weekend getaway in Maryland or Virginia.
Sitting in my home office on a cold day in January, I can’t stop staring at the silver maple tree outside my window. Just looking at its parched branches has me reaching for my misshapen tube of hand cream for the umpteenth time. I definitely have a case of the winter blues.
Looking for a bit of commiseration, I call my childhood friend Ladan who lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three kids. Soon, we are perusing online pictures of the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond in St. Michaels, Md., fantasizing about getting away.
The images on the inn’s website are idyllic: sun-washed waters lapping the edge of a lush lawn and hydrangea bushes hugging the Ionic-columned historic mansion. “I hear it’s got a fantastic spa,” Ladan says.
We both know the place won’t look much like those summery pictures at this time of year, but the idea of a girls’ getaway is nevertheless appealing. We seldom see each other because our lives are so consumed with work and family. And a
weekend of pampering sounds like the perfect way to recover from the holiday madness.
“Let’s do it,” I say, hitting the reservations button and tossing the tube of hand cream into the trash can.
THE FRIDAY I drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the sky is a bitter lemon-gray and the waters are shrouded in mist. By the time I reach the inn, it’s pouring-down rain. I make a beeline for the check-in.
“Your friend hasn’t arrived yet, but you’re just in time for our cava cocktail tasting,” the receptionist says with a smile. It all sounds a bit Club Med to me, but I wander into the book-lined library anyway and join a group of guests clustered on plump armchairs and sofas. All eyes and ears are on server Chance Miller, who hands me an Orange Blossom cocktail of sparkling Spanish wine effervescing over a sugar cube. It’s balanced by a dash of Bitters and topped with St-Germain, a fragrant liquor crafted from elderflowers. An expertly applied orange twist garnishes the rim.
Miller shares the history of Sabrage, the Napoleonic art of slicing open a champagne bottle with a sharp saber. “Usually, I’d invite you onto the lawn, but today, for obvious reasons, I’ll demonstrate the technique under the awning and you can watch from the window,” he says. Seconds later, we see him through the window, swiping straight through the glass bottleneck with a sharp blade. The guests “ooh-and-aah.” Not a drop of bubbly is wasted.
WE AWAKE THE next morning to find a handwritten note on our breakfast tray, reminding us of our spa treatments and times. Sheets of rain continue to come down, but the inn’s oversize navy umbrellas cover us amply as we make our way to the outbuilding that houses the Linden Spa—named for the allée of linden trees leading up to the original mansion.
Spa concierge Kari Olson ushers us from the gloom into a softly lit reception area. A small adjacent boutique sells the products used in the spa, as well as locally produced linden honey from the inn’s apiary.
After donning terry-lined seersucker robes in the locker room, Ladan and I are led down a hall to the “relaxation room” where the walls are decorated with framed pressed flowers, and a row of tan recliners faces an enclosed courtyard. Healthy nibbles (walnut halves, dried apricots and fresh berries) sit on a sideboard, and we are offered cool cucumber water or the inn’s signature tea made of rose petals, linden blossoms and French lavender. Heated and weighted neck rolls are placed on our shoulders.
The inn’s most popular winter treatments include the “Herbal Remedy Massage” ($200), which incorporates a hot herb-filled detoxifying poultice; the warming “Hot Stone Massage” ($200); and the “Winter Renewal Package” ($135), which features a massage or facial followed by a light meal.
Today, Ladan has booked a “Foot Reflexology” treatment ($95), while I’m splurging on the “St. Michaels Tri-Crystal Experience” ($200), a full-body microdermabrasion treatment designed to soften and regenerate the skin. It begins (as do all of our spa therapies on this visit) with a warm footbath. Then I head into a darkened room, where a massage therapist applies a scrub in circular strokes over my body, gently exfoliating away dull winter skin. After I take a cooling shower, she lightly massages my new skin with a rehydrating blend of both coconut milk and moisturizer.
ON SUNDAY MORNING, we decide to give another resort activity a whirl. “I’ve been wanting to try Qigong forever,” says Ladan, who is far more athletic than I am and regularly does yoga. As it turns out, we’re the only guests on this particular day who have opted for the ancient Chinese practice, which is designed to enhance the flow of energy throughout the body through physical poses, breathing techniques and focused intention.
Our instructor, Doug Musser—a formidable 63-year-old former Army captain—is also the activities coordinator for the resort. He says that during the winter months, the inn’s indoor classes also include workshops on picture-frame making, journal writing and wine-tasting.
As Musser guides us through a relaxing limbering exercise involving multiple neck rolls, he asks, “Do you hear the clicks and pops? The medical term is crepitus, same root as decrepit.”
Later that afternoon—feeling decidedly less decrepit and completely oblivious to the rain—we are back in the spa, getting more footbaths as the prelude to “Winter Renewal Packages.” This time we have both opted for facials instead of massages.
My facial involves hot towel compresses; tight circular massages with creamy cleansers; a buffing mask that gently sloughs off; an apricot-infused toner; and a rehydrating moisturizer. I also tack on a 15-minute Anti-Aging Hand Treatment ($25) and the Feet Treat ($25). In the end, I come out feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated than I can remember being in years.
AFTER OUR FACIALS, we are invited to choose between a two-course luncheon at the Stars restaurant, with its picture windows and French doors, or high tea in the morning room and library, which are connected via a bookcase door. We opt for the latter.
“My wife is of Japanese lineage, so I know tea is an important part of culture,” says Miller, the server. This time, he is setting down a French press with tea leaves steeping in it. He then returns with a selection of petit fours, finger sandwiches and the inn’s signature blackberry scones, all served on pretty china. Perched on a powder-blue linen sofa, we look outside and note that the rain has finally abated. No sunshine yet, but we are glowing nevertheless. We agree to make this girls’ getaway thing an annual tradition.
Later, as I’m preparing to head home, I pass the library and catch a glimpse of Miller out of the corner of my eye. He’s standing before another rapt audience in front of a roaring fire. A wrought-iron implement is glowing in the hearth, and an ice bath and a feather are nearby.
“Has anyone ever seen vintage port opened the proper Portuguese way with port tongs?” he asks.
Charlotte Safavi is a freelance writer in Alexandria.
Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond, 308 Watkins Lane / St. Michaels, Md, 410-745-2200 / belmond.com
More Spa Getaways
Many of us crave a quiet escape after the holidays. These three high-end spas offer doting service and first-rate facilities. We contacted each to see which cold-weather treatments they are offering this winter. Please note that seasonal packages can vary, so it’s worth checking with the spa before booking a trip.
KESWICK HALL is a 48-room luxury resort on 600 acres near Charlottesville. Tucked inside the resort’s members-only golf club is the Spa at Keswick Hall, offering spa treatments to both club members and hotel guests. Though the spa doesn’t currently offer manicures and pedicures, it has a range of facials, massages and body treatments, including a new one called “The Keswick Reserve” ($465). This 3 1/2-hour regimen takes inspiration from the surrounding wine country and draws on the free-radical-busting power of antioxidants. It starts with a glass of red wine and includes a 60-minute grape-seed oil massage, Shiraz body scrub, red wine body mask and Pinot Noir facial.
Another popular winter package is called “A Day to Remember” ($340) and includes a hot stone massage; peppermint-and-wintergreen essential oil body treatment; 60-minute reflexology treatment; and light lunch.
During the winter, the spa also offers a 20 percent discount on “The Skin Rejuvenator” (making it $260 instead of $325), which incorporates a lavender-infused mineral salt exfoliation, a hydrating body wrap and a multivitamin facial.
Keswick Hall, 701 Club Drive, Keswick, Va.; 434-979-3440; www.keswick.com
Kick Back in Horse Country
Opened in August 2013, the 168-room SALAMANDER RESORT & SPA sits in the heart of Middleburg’s horse country. The resort’s 23,000-square-foot spa features six fireplaces and an outdoor fire pit, as well as 14 treatment rooms that are open to both hotel guests and the public.
The “Rebalancing Ritual” ($195-$220) is an 80-minute treatment that includes a dry exfoliation and massage with essential oils; the products change seasonally. This winter’s massage incorporates essential oils of pine, juniper and spruce, as well as shea butter.
Other winter treats at the spa include a self-administered Moroccan-inspired Rasul body treatment ($90-$165), an ancient cleansing ritual that comes from the tradition of Turkish baths. Popular with couples, the treatment includes applying a mud-based product to the skin and then entering a steam chamber. Afterward, you can relax in a mosaic-tiled whirlpool and on heated stone loungers.
Winter hands and feet always need help, and the “Quench Manicure and Pedicure” ($120) combines a sugar scrub with rehydrating shea butter oils and lotions. Afterward, you can tack on a 15-minute hydrating paraffin treatment ($15) if you’d like.
Salamander Resort & Spa, 500 North Pendleton St., Middleburg, Va.; 800-651-0721; www.salamanderresort.com
Cozy Up in the City
If you’re looking for some pampering closer to home, consider the FOUR SEASONS HOTEL in Georgetown, named one of the top 100 U.S. spa hotels by Condé Nast readers in 2012.
One of its new offerings is the “Moroccan Oil Hydration Ritual” ($265-$285), which uses the brand’s hair and body products to rehydrate winter skin. The “Kate Somerville Dermal Quench” ($230-$300) uses a dermatological oxygen machine to deliver a serum of vitamins and nutrients directly to the skin’s pores. Or, there's the “Kate Somerville Signature Treatment” ($360-$370), which pairs the oxygen machine treatment with light therapy to even the skin tone.
For couples, the “Night Spa” package ($1,800) is always on tap but sweeter when it is cold outside. It includes two monogrammed bathrobes, 80-minute massages, flowers, exclusive use of the hotel’s pool for several hours and dinner. For an additional fee ($500), you can stay the night.
Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-342-0444; www.fourseasons.com