Four Seasons, Palm Beach, FL

Fletcher writes: In my mind I had an idea of what my first shave would be like. I remembered back as a child, that I went with my dad to the local barber shop where the town’s men would gather for a shave and a haircut. Later, I’d seen it in the movies: the guy reclined in the chair; the barber wrapping his face with a towel, whipping up the lather in a cup, dispensing it with a fluffy brush, then ‘stropping’ the straight razor on leather strap hanging from the chair’s frame. Oh, yeah, and in many of the movies there were subsequent moments of suspense and sometimes violence - gangsters rushing in with guns blazing.

Then, of course, there’s (gulp) Johnny Depp as “Sweeney Todd.” OK, forget most of that. I never expected the worse; nevertheless, my first shave was nothing like what I expected.

The room was everything I could have wished for. First, it’s located in the spa within Four Seasons Palm Beach, a fantastic oceanside setting feeling very Hollywood in all the best ways. The treatment is actually called the Traditional Hot Towel Shave.

Kathy and I were escorted to a special VIP Room located off the spa’s relaxation lounge, feeling like rock stars in this 11,000-square-foot facility just steps from the beach. It is often frequented by grooms getting a treatment like the one I’d be getting, or couples (like us) getting side-by-side services. So while Kathy was on one side of the room preparing for a manicure (at a separate manicure table) and pedicure (in a pedicure chair), the other half of the room is decidedly male, more than half if you claim the large plasma television mounted on the wall.

David Porter was my barber, and he put me right at ease suggesting I soak in the bit of pampering I was about to receive. It didn’t take much for me to get into it - hey, this is luxury. I don’t want to do the math, but out of the thousands of shaves I’ve had, this would be the first ever that I had not done myself. So I readily situated myself in the plush chair, let David tuck me in with a black cloth, and put myself into his skillful hands.

David checked out my face — I had intentionally not shaved that day in anticipation of this special spa service — as he explained he was looking for any places to be careful with, like moles or scars. Good, I thought, those movie scenes running through my mind, and no new scars would be appreciated. He put a hot towel over my face, to soften up my whiskers. Soooo soothing, exactly what I expected.

Mixing the right amount of conversation with the right amount of action seemed easy for David. He wasn’t chatty, which gets on my nerves when I’m trying to relax, but was able to touch a few topics of interest - sports, local restaurants, even politics. The election was over and this was Florida, after all.

Off came the towel and he started first with the clarisonic brush, which prepares he face to receive the products - Babor - and the shave. So next came the warmed shaving cream, not from a porcelain cup but from a hot-lather machine. And now for the shiny, sharp razor, not batted on a leather strap. David was prepared.

In the movies, it always looks so fluid, such long strokes, the razor running from throat to ear, lather disappearing as if vacuumed away. To my surprise. David’s strokes were measured and meticulous, and small, very small. To my dismay, it felt a little bit like he was scraping the hair away, about a quarter inch at a time. It took a long time, not unpleasant, at least not totally.

I asked him why.

His quick smile before answering was really all I needed. The razor was sharp and he was making sure he made no mistakes.

“Have you ever cut someone?” I asked.

“Not seriously.” He smiled.

I just relaxed. He gently moved the cream away so he could see where and what he was cutting. Thus all my little imperfections and wrinkles and chin cleft remained perfect and uncut. He took away the hair slowly but thoroughly. This was a professional shave. Laying back, feeling the scrape, scrape, scrape, I have to admit that I kept wondering, since I do have kind of sensitive skin, just how bad my razor burn was going to be?

David finished up. Washed my face. Put on a cool towel. Put on some lotion cream. (Product - good.) Pulled off the sheet. Spun me around to look at the final product in the mirror. But my first move was to run my fingers over my cheeks and chin.

Smooth, as smooth as my face has ever been. And as to the razor burn I so dreaded? Never came. So much for expectations.

Kathy writes: Before our rock-star treatments in Four Seasons’ Special VIP Room, we had a really fantastic couples massage, courtesy of John and Katherine (pictured here with the beautiful his-and-her spa tables ready for us).

We both tucked into our spots — me with John; Fletcher with Katherine — and did some deep breathing to prepare to receive our massages. Both therapists asked about any problem areas, or spots where we’d like a little extra work, and, checked in to see if the pressure was how we liked. I was quickly smiling to myself, face down in the cradle, as I heard the first “umms” coming from Fletcher next to me, the indication that he is getting a great massage. When he does, he does his little hum.

The treatment was lovely, but I think the real stand-out to this particular set-up is that the couples room not only has the massage tables but a huge, oversized steam shower. Our therapists asked if we’d like to give it a try. Our eager “yeses” brought smiles to their faces. They turned the water on so the steam could begin to build up before exiting from the room.

Before their departure, though, they pointed out the chilled water bottles in silver ice bucket and snacks like those offered in the relaxation area: a flaxseed “financier” and blood-orange pate de fruit, along with chilled face cloths.

The steam shower was heavenly. Both his-and-hers sides featured hand-wands along with the overhead showerheads, so you can only imagine the fun we had in our water fights!

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that while Fletcher got his shave, I got my mani/pedi from Irina Zagorouiko, who pampered me senseless. I love that in a therapist.

If You're Going: Spa highlights include a saltwater Jacuzzi, eucalyptus steam room, high-performance showers and relaxation rooms, Couples Spa Suite with two treatment beds, steam room and raindrop shower. For more, visit http://www.fourseasons.com/palmbeach/2016/the_resort/.

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J.S. Fletcher & Kathy M. Newbern,

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