An Almost Perfect Spa Experience

I love an afternoon at the spa. Realistically, it doesn’t take much for me to feel pampered. A glass of wine waiting for me after a long meeting? Pampered. Walking a dog in the rain so that I don’t have to? Pampered. I’m comparatively low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spot a luxury spa with the best of them.  Renew the Spa at James Royal Palm Hotel is pure luxury.

So, after sleeping in late, a causal breakfast and commensurate lounging around, we visited the Spa for some real pampering. As with many luxury hotels spas the staff makes a point of checking you in immediately. I was brought to a small but comfortable changing area. After getting settled in a thick, fluffy white robe, I was offered a glass of champagne and given the opportunity relax in a lounge area, where there was also water and light snacks like dried apricots or almonds.

Why anyone would sit inside is beyond me, because of the Spa’s enormous outside patio that overlooks both of the James Pools. It’s serene, but also makes terrific people watching. Depending on where you sit, you can even see the beach. With a glass of champagne, it was a great way to relax!

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Don’t sit inside while waiting for your treatment at Renew the Spa. Sit outside and soak up the sun while enjoying this view.

Whether the staff was clocking our wait, or just had naturally impeccable timing, they nailed it. We had enough time to sit outside and relax, sipping champagne. But not so much time that we had a noticeable wait. All three therapists came out simultaneously, introduced themselves and identified who was treating whom. As we were escorted to our individual treatment rooms, warm lavender rests were placed on our necks. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a massage but I’ve never had this done before. It was a nice touch. The lavender was soothing and the heat was perfect to help loosen tense neck muscles.

Now, having a therapist who doesn’t understand muscle structure, pressure points and therefore doesn’t really create the relaxing experience I’m looking for is a personal pet peeve of mine. Thankfully, I didn’t have that problem. Once in our individual rooms, my therapist started the massage with a salt foot soak. While my feet sat in soothing warm water, getting massaged by my therapist, she went over the massage basics and treatment options. What type of massage did I prefer (e.g., Swedish, deep tissue, etc.)? Did I want aromatherapy, stretching, bamboo or reflexology?

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The salt foot soak doesn’t look like much here but it was heavenly.

I’m still working through a knee injury, so I selected to incorporate stretching. My therapist* was very attentive, asked significant questions about my knee injury such as how it happened, what my current rehab was, etc. She did some specific stretching and manipulation that I am convinced accelerated my recovery. It could have been a placebo effect on my part, but that’s how good she was. I left feeling like I could do a triathlon (even though I can’t even swim).

I would say fly to Miami just to visit Renew BUT… there is one small and unfortunate caveat. After the massage was finished my therapist came back with an arm full of recommended products for me to “consider picking up to continue my treatment.” BOOM, Zen-killer.

I don’t know about others, but when someone is in a blissful state, it’s poor timing to up-sell. I thought maybe it was me but my friends had the same complaint of an up-sell experience and were equally dismayed. We agreed spas are a business but the approach was so off-putting it left us with a kink in our otherwise relaxed bodies.

Not even this amazing post-treatment salt scrub “bar” could overcome the frustrating up-sell experience.

Travel Tip: Renew the Spa is a luxury spa and has corresponding luxury prices. Keep an eye on GiltCity for specials to offset the expense. And, maybe, at the beginning you can let them know you don’t like to talk after a massage, or be sold anything.

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Author: Judi Kennedy

Wanderlust. A professional aunt, fitness enthusiast, dog owner and avid reader the rest of the time.

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