11 Dorrance St.
Providence, Rhode Island
Debbie, the manager at The Spa at the Providence Biltmore, was so generous in offering me the opportunity to come in and try a couple of their services. Since spa services are not normally in the budget at Chez Boliyou, I was excited and curious to check it out.
As you'd expect at the Biltmore, the staff, from the valets to the woman at the front desk, were welcoming and accommodating. The spa area itself is dimly lit with candles and diffused lighting. The pale, silvery blue walls, bamboo, stones and metal rods give it a very Asian vibe, with the elements of Feng Shui. The background music, a New-Age combination of pan flute, piano and birdsong, I thought would be irritating, but I found it really added to the experience.
I was shown into the changing room where the most comfortable robe I've ever worn was waiting for me. I'm sure it was silk, soft, comfortable without being too warm. In fact, one thing I noticed throughout my visit is how perfect the temperature was.
From the changing room I went to the relaxation/waiting area. There were magazines there, though the lighting was too dim to make use of them. Regardless, the ambiance was more about relaxing and meditation than reading. It was only a minute or two before Kenji came in and led me to a treatment room for a Pure Fiji Hydrating Treatment.
Here's the description of the treatment from the site:
"Raw cane sugar harvested from the sun drenched plantations of Fiji combined with exotic oils exfoliate, nourish and rehydrate the skin. Relax as the sugar is massaged into the skin with coconut milk eliminating dry, dull skin to reveal new and healthy skin creating a warm glow."Although I tried to look at the experience clinically, I was still a bit apprehensive about being exposed during treatment. There was nothing to worry about: Only the part of the body being treated was uncovered, and Kenji was careful to not only cover but wrap the rest of me in the blankets.
First, Kenji showed me the products he'd be using and explained the three-part process. First he'd moisturize with coconut milk, then exfoliate with sugar scrub, and finish with body butter. I laid on a heated, cushioned table under blankets that were warm enough to relax the muscles without being heavy.
We talked a bit as he worked. I told him that, since he does these treatments a couple of times a day, he must have the softest, most hydrated and exfoliated hands in the world. When the treatment was done, I felt relaxed, smooth and silky. Kenji gave me a bottle of water and I waited in the relaxation room for the next treatment.
Again it was only a few minutes before Megan, the message therapist, arrived to give me the Signature Massage:
"A personalized massage that targets the areas aching for attention. A combination of deep pressure as well as light, relaxing strokes leaves you with a renewed sense of well being. Your treatment is enhanced by one of our Aromatherapy Oils."It was very much the same experience as the Fiji Hydrating treatment, although the massage was deeper into the muscle and there was only one step in the process.
I found out about stiff muscles I never knew were there, including some in my right shoulder blade from "guarding" an old rotator cuff injury. Like Kenji, Megan explained the process. She selected a relaxing aromatherapy oil, which probably accounts for why she and I didn't talk nearly as much as I did with Kenji.
After a thoroughly relaxing massage and another bottle of water, I went back to the changing room to shower and put my clothes back on. That was the only problem I had in the experience: I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to operate the showers. There were three knobs, all of which turned, but none of which wanted to make water come out of the spigot. It didn't help that my hands were a bit slick from massage oil (yes, the glorious Megan massaged fingers and toes), or that I didn't wear my glasses in the shower. It's my own fault that I was just too embarrassed to ask anyone for help, but I ended up taking my shower at home.
I was relaxed all day afterward, and can still feel the effects of the hydrating treatment on my skin. It's smoother and fresher-looking. I loved the scent of aromatherapy oil that lingered on my skin until after the shower. In fact, I can say that my very first spa experience was a smashing success. And I really, really miss that soft, comfy white robe.