You know those days when you say, “Calgon, take me away”? I was having one of those kinds of days when I entered the elevator on the ground floor of Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and punched PH.
Seconds later, the elevator doors drew back on the penthouse floor and presented the Waikiki Plantation Spa. It felt like waking after a long work week realizing it was Saturday. You exhale. Your shoulders relax. You stretch. And you know you will live to fight the good fight—whatever that may be—again. Sometimes, all it takes is the right environment to put a new spin on your day.
With its warm colors and wood and stone motifs, the Waikiki Plantation Spa is blend of Zen and tropical living. A friendly attendant escorted me to the women’s changing room—tastefully appointed, a tad on the small side, but I prefer intimacy in a spa not a locker room feel. Besides, it doesn’t take much for me to escape to Never Never Land once my body hits the table, and I close my eyes. When had the last time been?
I changed into my overstuffed, white robe and plastic slippers—de rigueur spa attire—but I wasn’t yet sufficiently into spa-titude to muffle the negative quip, “Why do all spas insist on these same, hard plastic shoes that cut my feet?”
But that would come.
Next, I was escorted up a flight of stairs and handed a chilled glass of peach green tea. I reclined on the 1,000-square-foot meditation deck and gazed upon the waters of Waikiki from the 17th floor. Surfers caught waves. Stand up paddlers walked on water. A sailboat and cloud floated by. From this distant vantage point, it was all very surreal.
I relaxed into my lounger chair, but my fingers continued to air-type. That’s a quirk of mine. I type my thoughts into thin air. I suppose it’s because I spend so much time at a keyboard doing just that. My husband has even pointed out that I type when I rest my hand on his leg. And in my sleep. (Wouldn’t it be cool if I could record my dreams that way?)
My scheduled treatment was the spa’s signature, 80-minute “Plantation Facial.” It would incorporate, I was told, products from a new skin care line called H. Maloha that is touted to change how the skin ages. Don’t all skin care products profess this, I wondered. Obviously, I was still sniping. I hadn’t entered Never Land yet, much less Never Never Land.
But that would come.
And I will admit this: I have had many facials. Some, even, at places that act all hoighty-toighty. However, this facial—using H. Maloha products—didn’t burn my face, didn’t make my pores pucker, and didn’t once make my skin feel worked. Whatever was going on behind the scenes with that ground-breaking “bionutrient technology,” it felt good. Soft and gentle. Like the rain that would fall as I relaxed again on the meditation deck after my facial.
My facial technician, Karen, greeted me on the meditation deck and led me to my treatment room. As treatment rooms go, this one came equipped with the standard hook on the back of the door for your robe, small sink in the corner loaded with small bottles and vials that made me think of a chemistry lab, and a massage table in the center. A piano interlude played from some source I wasn’t able to identify. A shaded lamp in the corner lit the small room, no bigger than an entry-level walk-in closet. All in all, it was perfect. Like my own private cave—or Red Tent—in which to disappear for 80 minutes.
Karen slid a bolster under my knees to support my back. She covered me with a heavy-weight sheet. She snapped on the steam machine which pushed warm, moist air onto my face. And she slid a hot cloth behind my neck. “Take a deep breath,” Karen said, and I inhaled the scent of peppermint. “And again,” she said. More peppermint.
The time had come.
I caught my fingers typing the start to this blog essay, which, had I not edited it, would have read:
I don’t have a gardener, housekeeper or cleaning lady. I don’t color my hair, get my nails done or have any body parts waxed. But until the economy collapsed, I did go to a massage therapist once a month, because I do believe in pampering myself.
I had to edit that opening, though, because I realized it was no longer true. Oh, sure, I allow myself my fill of books, my personal form of indulgence. And I received a lovely facial from a woman named Monika for my birthday earlier in the year, but I had not resumed my monthly pampering, my monthly gift to myself for a job well done and a life well lived.
Karen’s fingers flitted over my face like a butterfly’s wings. She washed my face, exfoliated it, toned it and smoothed on a mask. Between layers, she instructed me to breathe deep and waved the scent of peppermint in the air. She spritz’ed my face. She moisturized it. She massaged each hand and foot.
In turn, my body melted into the padded massage table, no delineation between it and me. By the time, Karen whispered in my ear to stay and luxuriate in the stillness, my fingers had long since stopped typing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to make a phone call. For a massage.