St. Regis Monarch Beach, Part I
I don’t take the time to pamper myself, I’m too busy. Or I feel too guilty. For example, over one year ago my friend gave me a gift card for a massage and I have yet to use it. The last time I had a professional mani/pedi was last October for the Glamour Reel Moments event but before that, it had been five years. My last facial? Let me search my memory bank…six years ago? I resort to cutting and coloring my own hair because I hate to take the time for it.
I had the opportunity to visit the St. Regis Monarch Beach for a few hours and get a massage at Spa Gaucin, a five star spa located in Dana Point. This is an incredibly special treat. Because these things don’t happen on a regular basis. I'm lucky if I get all ten fingernails painted at one time.
Although the morning is overcast the sun begins to shine over the St. Regis. The place is vast with endless hills of verdant lawns and lush, colorful flowers. When we walk through the massive iron gate, the scent of fresh flowers cannot be ignored. A giant flower arrangement greets us as we step inside. Every inch of flooring in the foyer shines. There is nary a spot or speck of dust in sight. A pleasant reprieve from my normal day of soccer cleats, dirty socks and dog hair. Not to mention crumbs on the floor, crumpled school papers and open boxes of cereal littering the kitchen.
I immediately head to Spa Gaucin for my massage. After my kids fighting every five minutes, various homework issues, and yet another computer virus wiping out the hard drive, my tense back cries out for stress relief. I arrive a little early for my ten a.m. appointment but don't wait around. I am whisked into a comfy room with a giant fireplace. I sit down for less than five minutes and eat a handful of almonds. In white dishes around the spa facility are dried fruits and almonds for snacking along with bottles of water. A tower of Red Delicious apples, bright and shiny, wait to be eaten. I should come here as often as possible. Just to sit and do nothing.
The spa girl tells me everything is ready so I head back to the changing area. I am pleasantly surprised to see a cushy robe and spa shoes waiting for me. Me? Yes. Along with a mug and organic tea bag, a bag of spa treats and a thoughtful shower cap.
Even though there is one other woman in the changing area- strutting around naked and comfortable with it- I change in the curtained dressing room. The robe envelopes me in warm comfort…ahhhh. The enormous sink/makeup/changing area is so clean that even if you bent down to find a stray hair, you’d come up empty handed.
Well-lit makeup mirrors, styling products, blow dryers and curling irons are there to use. The naked woman leisurely fixes her makeup in front of the mirror while I try to hide my eyes. But I can't help but look.
Heat rises from the Jacuzzi tub, where the bubbling water signals tranquility. Pitchers of iced spa water are available along with orange and cucumber slices. Beyond the Jacuzzi is the room where I wait for my masseuse. Here, I sink into an ultra-cushioned couch and page through magazines, uninterrupted. Although there is a carafe of coffee available, I don’t want to have a full bladder when I get my massage so I skip it. I bet it was full bodied, freshly roasted and hot.
in the coffee shop
I have a hard time relaxing because I have so much to do on any given day. But being far from home, I don't worry about floors that need to be mopped. My friendly masseuse, Karen, leads me down a winding corridor into a room that features a crackling fire in the marble fireplace. The lights are dim, soothing music plays, I begin to feel my spine untangle. A warm blanket is placed over me. I'm ready for my Mediterranean Massage.
Here’s the official information on the specialty:
The Mediterranean massage offers light to medium pressure strokes which are executed with hydrating Chardonnay grapeseed oil. This signature service includes a warm, tension releasing back compress and aromatic fig and cassis body butter application.
I chat with Karen while she gently works away the stress from my weary muscles using warmed oils. When my time comes to an end, she offers me a glass of organic white wine. How could I refuse? I must point out the thoughtful gestures of unlimited water bottles, fresh seedless black grapes, tranquil music and how Karen so kindly wraps my hair so it doesn't get oil in it! I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day with an oily coif. Wouldn't that be tragic on such a lovely day?
As I sip my amazing chilled wine on the way back to the changing area, Karen offers me use of the “tranquility room”. Sounds heavenly, yes? I am in a rush to get back to my friend who accompanied me for the day. It's rare that we venture out of our ten mile radius of school or work, the grocery store or mall so a day at the Monarch Beach was an experience I wanted to share with her. I change back into my clothes, bidding farewell to the robe. It was a light terry cloth on the inside but cotton on the outside…I want to keep it. They sell them in the gift shop so I know where to find one.