Seduced by a Spa

The exclusive Mayflower Spa offers the ultimate in personal pampering, relaxation and rejuvenation.
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Although the

Mayflower Spa is a new kid on the luxury spa block, it is already making quite a name for itself.

A scant six weeks after its June 2006 opening, the Washington, Conn., facility was anointed No. 1 on a list of top destination spas compiled by Travel + Leisure magazine and "Good Morning America."

And Luxury SpaFinder magazine recently dubbed it the country's "most luxurious and most exclusive" spa.

It's no surprise that the upstart edged out the veterans when you consider the achievements of the Mayflower Inn and Spa's power trio: owners Robert and Adriana Mnuchin and their daughter, Lisa Hedley.

A Natural Progression

Robert Mnuchin's more than 30-year tenure at Goldman Sachs included a stint as senior director. Mnuchin, 73, was also a director of the American Stock Exchange and chairman of the Upstairs Trading Committee of the

New York Stock Exchange

.

Adriana Mnuchin has demonstrated her entrepreneurial and creative flair as founder of enterprises as diverse as the Cashmere-Cashmere and Tennis Lady retail chains, as well as the Shakespeare Society in New York.

And before stepping into the job of spa president and creative director, Lisa Hedley, 44, was an attorney and an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker.

All three worked closely with the architect, interior designer and project designer on every phase of the project to create a strikingly serene and luxurious environment for spa guests.

The family first became involved with the property, which is located about two hours from New York City, after Robert Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs in the early 1990s. "When I wanted to change my life, I never thought of it as retirement," says Mnuchin, a self-described workaholic. "But I wanted to do other things. It would be pointless to leave such an exciting position to do something with similar characteristics."

The original Mayflower Inn "was in complete disrepair," Mnuchin continues. "We wanted to put it back on its feet. The grounds, the location gave us a chance to create something special. That was our dream, our vision."

Stairway to Heaven

Decorated with antiques and 18th and 19th century art, the revamped inn has the ambience of a traditional New England country house -- albeit one with flat-screen TVs, voice-mail and Wi-Fi access. The 30 rooms and suites feature fireplaces, steam showers, soaking tubs, custom-blended bath products and ultra-high-thread-count Frette linens.

The new ethereal Spa House, which shares the 58-acre property with the inn, offers treatments, classes and seminars to soothe, strengthen and stimulate.

But the pampering begins even before arrival: The reservation process includes a consultation with a spa adviser, consisting of a discussion about the guest's goals and intentions for the stay, and a scheduling of activities to fulfill them.

Guests can pack lightly, as warm-ups, robes, slippers and outdoor gear such as rain jackets and boots are provided -- as are heart-rate monitors, pedometers and MP3 players with personalized music selections, based on information gleaned from the consultation.

Body, Mind and Spirit

The spa offers a variety of wraps, scrubs, massages and focused treatments such as facials for hands, feet or scalp, or intensive eye or lip treatments.

Among the most unusual offerings are 90-minute "rituals," which combine washes, exfoliations, cool mists and warm oil massages.

The eight treatment rooms -- including one for couples -- are equipped with heated massage tables, and have been soundproofed to ensure that no disturbances from the outside world intrude on the serenity.

Two rooms also contain tubs for mind-clearing soaks, promoting circulation and soothing aching spirits and muscles; steam showers with as many as 10 heads direct a range of gentle and intense sprays all over.

An array of fitness choices are offered in four exercise studios, including one-on-one yoga consultations, cardio classes combining Latin, hip-hop and belly-dancing techniques, and "Pumped-up Playground," based on jumping rope, hula-hooping and other skills originally learned at recess. Pilates and yoga are taught both on land and in the pool, which is also the site for a swim-stroke clinic and kayak-rolling tutorials.

Outdoor activities take place at the adjoining Steeprock Nature Reserve and on the Mayflower property, which was landscaped by Robert Mnuchin himself. "I've always loved trees," he says. "The Mayflower presented an opportunity to take my passion for trees and shrubs to the next level. ... It was a joyous experience, going to nurseries across the Northeast, gathering materials for ... months."

Guests encounter a putting green and a maze garden on the short walk between the inn and the spa.

There are other gardens for yoga and meditation, and a labyrinth for blending movement and meditation, which is also the goal of a guided afternoon "saunter" around the grounds.

Hiking, biking, kayaking, fly-fishing, tennis, rappelling, archery and a variety of nature walks are also available, as are seasonal activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Exercising and nurturing the spirit as well as the body is part of the daily schedule. Guests can relax and listen to music on the gently heated benches of the Thermal Sanctuary while experiencing the glow of color therapy lights in its domed ceiling: Amber is said to promote wisdom, clarity and confidence, while blue triggers serenity, imagination and intuition.

The sanctuary's slightly humid air is delicately scented with a blend of essential oils intended to evoke the spa's woodland setting.

Those who are too blissed out from treatments for further activity can kick back and contemplate the Willem de Kooning painting hanging in the sunlight-filled Garden Room, or just take in the view of Blue Heron Pond.

Evening activities include sessions on memoir writing, star gazing and fung shui. Or guests can join a knitting circle, learn flower arranging, experiment with watercolors, become CPR certified or pick up tips on becoming more organized.

As a complement to all these treatments and activites, the inn and spa's dining rooms specialize in naturally raised meat and poultry, natural grains and local, organic products.

The emphasis on healthy eating extends beyond those menu choices: Culinary teams conduct hour-long tutorials in "conscious cuisine" preparation, including soups, main courses and desserts; a nutritionist is even on staff for one-on-one consultations.

The spa, which accommodates an exclusive 28 guests, offers a variety of special programs: weeks exclusively for men, couples, mothers and daughters, or fathers and sons.

Other weeklong programs focus on memoir writing, an Iron Woman fitness challenge or yoga immersion with master instructors.

The $6,700 weekly rate (or $6,200 per person, double occupancy) includes Mayflower Inn accommodations, unlimited access to all scheduled spa treatments, classes and salon services (such as manicure, pedicure, hair styling and scalp treatments).

Breakfast and dinner, served in the inn's dining room, and lunch, in the spa house's dining loggia, are also included.

Shorter programs are also offered, from the all-inclusive four-night "mini-week" ($5,360) to yoga weekends that include accommodations, all meals, access to the Spa House and all scheduled classes, plus two treatments ($1,300).

And if you're the type who prefers to try before you buy,

individual spa treatments can be booked ($55-$480), as can

accommodations (rooms from $400-$600, suites $650-$1,300); the inn's

dining rooms are also open to the public.

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Elzy Kolb is a freelance writer living in White Plains, N.Y. In addition to writing the monthly JazzWomen! column in Hot House magazine, her articles on the arts, travel, interior design and other topics have appeared in the New York Times, Interior Design magazine and The Stamford Advocate.