Dear Ritz-Carlton Spa: You had us at VIP Salon, the site of our 50-minute Reconnect Couple’s Massage.
Turns out we had exactly what we needed to address travel-weary muscles: a beautiful setting, thoughtful décor, a ready-to-relax mindset and two expert therapists who knew exactly how to melt away the hour by massaging away our stress. Hats off to Prissilla and Dee.
At check-in, we were offered add-ons ($24 each) that included smooth and firm body butter, hand or foot reviver, back reviver, dry brushing, Moroccan oil hair treatment or hot stones. Kathy opted for the latter; Fletcher went with the straight massage.
The room featured side-by-side massage tables, of course, plus a tub (shown above) and comforting ambience that matched the casual elegance of this out-of-the-way Ritz-Carlton property, tucked beautifully in nature amid a large lake/golf community.
The Spa, an impressive 27,000-square-feet, stand-alone structure, is located steps away from the lobby on a covered open walkway that also serves as parking for the resort’s little train for an orientation tour for guests. (Yes, adults ride, too, which we did on our first visit here three years ago.)
With rain in the forecast this time, we happily embraced a spa day, and it turns out it was an incredibly relaxing five hours – a break from everything, which we (and many others) seldom allow, so the gratitude meter registered at its peak.
Usually our spa visits entail a site tour, treatment and an hour or so to enjoy whatever extras might be available. Here we had several hours to partake of all the amenities like those in the men and women’s locker rooms: sauna, steam room, hot tub and cold plunge pool. The dressing areas were outfitted with any needs to prepare for a lunch date or evening out post-treatments, too.
Part of what inspired the “linger longer” attitude – (there’s a dining venue on property plus a road by that name) — was a suggestion from our masseuses. Their written recommendation to each of us post-massage was to sample the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi, in that order. That idea worked beautifully.
What also worked beautifully were these two masseuses. The massage begins face down, with both checking to be sure we were comfortable, particularly with the temperature of the heated beds. Both spoke quietly when asking if the pressure was to our liking or requesting we turn over.
A wonderful start was a comfy, weighted heat pack placed on our backs, which helped loosen tight muscles. Prior to the massage, we were offered a choice of two essential oils - eucalyptus or lavender. We each chose lavender. Three deep inhales helped prepared us mentally.
Another fragrance easily recognized during the massage was Yoga Balm, which we were offered at Charlotte, NC's Ritz-Carlton spa as a take-home sample. Prissilla also sent Kathy home with a small sample of the yummy body butter. Next time.
New Moves We’d Not Seen
We were each surprised, that after hundreds of massages in spots all over the world, these ladies had some new “moves” we had not experienced.
Fletcher asked Dee, “wow, what’s going on there?” when she held one pressure point on his low back and another, on the opposite side up by his shoulder blade. Each trigger point, she said, was likely addressing some recent pain. She was indeed spot on, showing a great sense of knowing when to hone in and where body work was most needed.
At another point, Fletcher mentioned it was unusual that Dee was massaging each of his calves at the same time. “There’s method in my madness,” she replied. By comparing, she was personalizing her approach. Another effective face-down technique was when she raised one leg and bent it at the knee, then stretched it over the other outstretched leg to be able to work on the his thigh and calf muscles.
Kathy, on the other hand, trying to regain strength in a post meniscus-surgery knee, found release once face up when Prissilla performed a great IT-band stretch. She first pulled the bent leg out sideways and gave the knee – stretched out off the table – a good push-and-hold. She followed by then pulling the leg out straight then gently placing it off the side of the table bent at the knee toward the floor. Here, Prissilla pushed her own leg against Kathy’s, holding it in a stretch. Afterward, when Kathy remarked it was a massage move she’d never seen, Prissilla encouraged her to try it at home. (Pictured: Kathy with Prissilla post-treatment.)
Both therapists listened to specific requests and were meticulous in providing hot towels to the feet twice and once to the back before we turned face up. We noticed the precision they used in placing a dry, warm towel on top, then easily and steadily removing the wet towel that was losing warmth. It made for a smooth transition.
Spa Lunch and Pool Workout
After taking the therapists’ advice to hit our respective steam/sauna/Jacuzzis, we met up at the large, attractive, inviting spa pool on the facility’s lower level, flanked by a small hot tub and electric, stone-faced fireplace on one end. The long stretch of pool is beneath a soaring ceiling with pitched beams.
The spa’s treatment rooms are at ground level upstairs just beyond the reception desk and spa gift shop. Steps away is the Spa Café, which features welcoming loungers chairs, every pair of two separated by gauzy curtains on either side. The centerpiece is a bar with seating and a big-screen TV projecting changing, calm scenes in nature.
Guests, like us, merely pick up the bar phone and order room service delivered here. Less than 30 minutes later, we were enjoying peach smoothies – a very Georgia thing – along with healthy salads, all nicely presented on a white tablecloth rolling cart just like the Ritz-Carlton uses for its in-room dining (which we sampled for two great breakfasts).
As we savored our spa lunch, staffer Angela checked on us and suggested a glass of wine. Great idea, we agreed, so we “let” her talk us into it. Not to worry, we'd each already downed several complimentary, 10-ounce water servings in the spa after our massages and between steam and sauna. So, yes, post-massage you should avoid alcohol for a time, but, on the other hand it is a celebration to be pampered at a Ritz-Carlton spa for such a long stretch.
After lunch with a few Instagram posts from our morning completed, we headed into the pool for a self-created workout that we use at home.
We had the entire pool to ourselves ‑ earlier upstairs, Kathy likewise had the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi on the women’s side as her own private playground, too. Lucky us.
Kathy, still mindful of the need to ice her healing knee, opted to return to the spa ladies’ lounge and hit the cold pool, which was indeed a shock to her fully relaxed system. But, you do what’s needed. The icy cold water was a good choice. Fifteen minutes later, she rejoined Fletcher at the spa pool for the final plunge of the spa day – that fireside hot tub.
As we departed, fellow travelers Darrin and Melissa arrived to take our spot in the bubbly waters. At the start of the spa day, Kathy had spotted Melissa in the ladies lounge – she described her earlier manicure as heavenly. And yes, Melissa hands, sporting red nail polish, were baby-soft to the touch.
Ahh, spahh – our happy place – and this one is in such a lovely setting, on Georgia’s Lake Oconee amid rolling hillsides, with lots of pines, six standout golf courses and more.
Also at the Spa
The spa salon offers hair, make-up, waxing and mani/pedis for both men and women plus, of course, a wide variety of massages, facials and body treatments.
And while Fletcher did not sample it this trip, the spa does feature a Gent's Den offering old-fashioned steel razor shaves, shoe shines, mustache trims, haircuts and nail grooming. Complimentary tastings of bourbons including the resort’s exclusive, small-batch Woodford Reserve blend, are available for guests to savor during any 50- or 80-minute service. The room also features a large, flat-screen television often, no doubt, tuned to golf.
If You're Going: The Reynolds Ritz-Carlton Spa is located at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, GA. For more, visit reynoldslakeoconee.com and choose spa or call 706.467.7185. Coming soon: The spa will be undergoing a $1 million renovation. Good news for us: That means we’ll have to return for more in-depth research, right?
About Reynolds Lake Oconee: Surrounded by more than 350 miles of shoreline on Georgia’s historic Lake Oconee, the golf destination resort community of Reynolds Lake Oconee features six championship golf courses and is home to The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf, an instructional and club fitting facility. The setting is an outdoor recreation paradise that includes the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, tennis center, swimming pools, pedestrian trails, wellness campus, and full-service marinas to facilitate watersports.
Guests can choose private accommodations that include luxury resort condominiums and cottages, or The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a 251-room lakefront, award-winning resort and spa.
(Photos courtesy of Reynolds Lake Oconee and Fletcher Newbern)