What’s better than an incredibly posh spa in the hotel that was the inspiration for Gilmore Girls? Not much. It’s the best combination since champagne and strawberries, The Rock and The Tooth Fairy, coffee and pumpkin spice. Literally, this cannot be overstated. I was sent to review the Mayflower Grace Spa for a magazine story (I know-I hate me too) but my real excitement was about exploring Stars Hollow, I mean Washington, Connecticut.
This charming hotel that inspired the series just happens to also have a world class spa, Lorelai would approve. From the New York Times “In 1999, a television writer named Amy Sherman-Palladino vacationed at the Mayflower Grace, a five-star inn built high on a hill here. In true Hollywood fashion, she returned to her hometown, Los Angeles, and from her brief visit spun Stars Hollow — a charming New England small town with its own resident troubadour. Stars Hollow would become the setting for “Gilmore Girls,” her cultishly popular mother-daughter dramedy that ran for seven seasons on the WB (and later the CW).”
Getting to the Mayflower Grace: The hotel is in Washington Depot, it’s the kind of town where you’ll find Barbara Streisand and gentleman farmers wearing Barbour jackets and drinking organic tea. Sadly there is no troubadour, but the area is chock full of charming stores. Pop into New Preston (which is part of Washington) and check out The Smithy (all local goods), Privet House (you need everything in here) and J Seitz (just trust me). It’s a 2 hour drive from New York City, and about 1 hr 15 min from Greenwich. Run a map, your GPS will take you to an entrance that doesn’t exist for the hotel, I learned this the hard way, the hotel says it happens frequently.
Checking in at Mayflower Grace: There are only 30 rooms in this boutique hotel, I was lucky enough to stay in a Grace Suite which has a little more space. My advice is to book a room in Allerton Cottage which is literally crawling distance from the spa entrance. My suite had a canopy bed draped in silk, antique furniture and private patio with wicker rockers.
The Spa: You can only book spa appointments if you are a guest at Mayflower Grace, which is a good thing because with only 30 rooms it keeps the sprawling 20,000 square foot spa feeling like your own private retreat. Before you even step in the front door you’ll be asked to remove your shoes and stow them in a locker. I suggest getting there as early as possible to enjoy the lounging area. I slipped into my robe and ordered a lobster roll which was delivered to my chenille covered chaise lounge with a view. And this was just 2 hours after dropping the kids off at school. Bring a swimsuit you’ll want to go for a swim in the sun warmed indoor pool.
There are also four exercise studios and a full schedule of fitness activities, I can tell you nothing about them because I did absolutely none of them. I did however go for a few hikes on the property and did a little forest bathing. So yes, I am calling rolling around in some leaves “exercise”.
Spa Treatments I Recommend:
I don’t often veer from the tried and true massage, I like to know what I’m getting in a spa treatment. For the story however I had to try their most unique offerings, barely any massage involved. I was skeptical. One of the treatments involved someone clanging bowls around my head, I was certain that could not be relaxing, but booked it anyway.
Elemental Wellness: When I saw this on my schedule I went back to the PR person and asked her exactly what I was in for, she replied that I would “get in touch with my essential self”. I joked that I hoped I would like her. This 90 minute treatment starts with a questionnaire about your personality and nature. It might surprise you to learn that I’m an introvert and am not super jazzed about talking to people, especially strangers. The treatment is based on your inner nature and the therapist prepared mud treatments that proved “transdermal nutrition”. From the website: “Like the oceans of the world and the stars in the sky we are composed of the same chemical elements of all creation. Each of us has a special constitution and therefore a unique biochemical balance. Our predominant characteristics, innate physical and emotional qualities are our constitution. Knowing your constitution allows you to know your body and mind better. We are at our very best when our inherent constitution is in balance.
In our signature Elemental Body Therapies, your advanced wellness therapist will determine your constitution and customize your blend to deliver transdermal nutrition for your unique biochemical needs. This approach is much more effective than taking supplements because mineral nutrients are meant to be provided synergistically. Our constitutional blends from Earth Matters Apothecary are synergistically formulated with marine elements, wild algae, medicinal clays, wild herbs and organic essential oils. The oils act as catalysts to the marine elements, promoting nutrient absorption and detoxification, enhancing the regenerative effects as well as a sense of wellbeing. It is through these therapies and specially designed meals that we can promote optimal vitality within ourselves.”
So what does that mean? I took a luxurious mud bath in a huge tub, then she wrapped me up like a mud burrito while doing energy work. This is all in the same room. Then I hopped in the shower that had, I am not kidding you, 10 different jets and showered off. The treatment finishes with a 30 minute massage. I don’t know about the nutrition I received, but I was almost catatonic after the treatment. If you are wondering what type you are – take the quiz HERE.
Sound Healing: It’s hard to describe why lying on a table with bowls being vibrated around you is deeply relaxing, but it is. Sound therapy is an ancient Tibetan practice and as my therapist explained to me, we are made of water and well vibrate. Think of how peaceful it is in yoga class when everyone chants Om, now multiply that by 100. My therapist used a variety of bowls both near me and on me, she also used tuning forks placing them in places where I was in pain. When I arrived I had stuffy sinuses and wasn’t feeling great, she placed the tuning forks on my face as they vibrated. It could be all the relaxing, or that I was sleeping in a bed devoid of children, animals and snoring spouses, but the next day my sinuses were blissfully clear. In addition to the bowls, my therapist also did energy work. I never thought I would recommend this treatment, but I honestly do.
Everything else you need to know:
The hiking around the hotel and in Litchfield in general is really gorgeous and not super “hikey” if you know what I mean. Pack leggings and sneakers you don’t mind getting dirty, no need to go crazy with hiking boots. But seriously, even if you only hike from the spa to the restaurant (about 20 minutes) you’ll enjoy the fresh air and scenery.
The restaurant has a charming glassed in side porch, they don’t serve food there unless you ask. I ordered breakfast and enjoyed my New York Times and full linen and china service from my rocking chair.
Want to visit a working organic farm? My darling friends own the Back 40 just around the corner from the Mayflower Grace, call the Back 40 Mercantile at 203-637-0240, ask for Lesley King, tell her I sent you. You might recognize the name from Fashion Friday, I get a lot of my great finds at their boutique in Old Greenwich, the Back 40 Mercantile. Read more about the Kings and their farm in the story I wrote for Greenwich Magazine.
Rates at Mayflower Grace:
You can save a little money by coming midweek (and avoid at least one night of supervising homework). A standard room starts at $675 per night and a Grace Suite is $ 1,575. They are currently running a mid-week special that includes continental breakfast and a $150 spa credit. Call the hotel to check availability: 860-869-9466.
I was hosted for the purposes of a review, the print article will appear in the January issue of Greenwich Magazine.