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Anitra Brown

New England's Spa Heaven

By February 4, 2013

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I'm in Lenox, Mass., known for offering three very different spa experiences: Canyon Ranch Lenox, one of the world's best destination spas; Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf, an intimate resort spa built around an 1894 Gilded Age mansion; and Kripalu, a mecca for yogis and yoginis.

I'm starting my trip with two nights at Cranwell. While there are twelve rooms and suites in the opulent historic mansion, which is tantalizingly near Wyndhurst restaurant, I decided to stay in the new carriage house. It replaced the original one that burned down in 2010, but Cranwell found the the original plans and created something looks much the same from the outside. Inside, the rooms are large, comfortable and fresh. And it's connected to the spa via heated indoor walkways -- very important in winter!

After checking in I headed to the spa for a Collagen Booster Therapy facial with Babor, a highly regarded German skin care line. Babor has several different lines, including one that's organic, but I went for the results-oriented Dr. Babor line. The 30% glycolic peel and hard-setting thermal mask left my skin glowing and hydrated, just as promised.

Then it was off to dinner at Wyndhurst, where I dined on a series of "small plates" that kept my palate intrigued. My favorite: two grilled lamb chops over white bean and bacon cassoulet, with a glass of Adelsheim Pinot Noir. The old mansion has such great atmosphere that I decided to enjoy a glass of port by the fire rather than rush back to my room to watch Downton Abbey. Why watch aristocrats on TV when you're walking around in a hotel that makes you feel like one?

Plus it's an unbelievable rate on "Serenity Sundays". From now through May you can stay here for $159 a night, and get 20% off your spa services. It's a perfect overnight getaway for couples, and adding on a second night makes it even more relaxing.

In the morning I enjoyed an an egg-white omelet and mixed berries in the Music Room, then took a Kripalu yoga class. Cranwell Spa now has anywhere from four to six exercise classes a day for $15 each, plus cross-country skiing when conditions are right.

Then I was ready for a lavish 1 hour 50-minute treatment called Grand Mosaik, which starts with a thorough and interesting exfoliation. Ginny quickly applied a body oil made from macadamia nut and sesame seed oils, sprinkled a very fine salt over the part of the body she was working (I felt like a lovely confectionary), then rubbed my skin vigorously.

she brushed the salt off with a towel, then applied a body cream made with spring water, micronized volcanic rock (to remineralize the body), algae extracts (detoxifying), and elsberries (anti-oxidants) in almond oil and vitamin E. Then she set me up in the dry flotation system (sort of a warm waterbed that you sink down into). I laid on what looked like a huge teabag filled with chamomile, horsetail extract, rosemary and other herbs. Ginny placed another one on my belly, then wrapped me up. You start out on a hard platform, but when you're ready it drops away and you sink down into the warmth of the waterbed, without getting wet.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of rest, you rinse off in the shower, dry off, and then return to the massage. I loved Ginny's techniques, which included working the attachment points of the muscles, stretching, compression, and rocking moves derived from the Trager Method. These are the signs of an experienced therapist who loves her work.

I came on this spa trip with an intention to heal from the sudden loss of my brother last summer, and I have felt very well cared for here at Cranwell. It's a lovely place, the people have been very kind. The spa treatments were wonderful, and the yoga class was just right for getting my body moving again. And I loved the fine dining experience in Wyndhurst. I don't think I lost any weight having Cranwell's Famous Apple Tart, but just enjoying a meal so very much felt healthy and life-affirming.

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