A Pilgrimage to Tranquility



THEY SAY IT'S THE JOURNEY AND NOT THE destination that matters. However, visitors to the recently opened Mayflower Destination Spa at the Mayflower Inn in Washington, CT, might disagree after experiencing all this spa has to offer. The brainchild of Adriana Mnuchin and her daughter, Lisa Hedley, Mayflower Destination Spa is set on a 58-acre estate in rural Connecticut, less than two hours from the frenetic pace of New York City.

 The Mayflower Inn is set on an idyllic 58-acre estate in rural Connecticut.
The Mayflower Inn is set on an idyllic 58-acre estate in rural Connecticut.

In 1992, Mnuchin and her husband, Robert, a former Goldman Sachs partner, bought and lovingly restored the 30-room Mayflower Inn & Spa. Although the inn had a spa, Mnuchin envisioned creating something much more substantial. Three years ago, the opportune moment presented itself when a nearby piece of land became available. The additional acreage provided the perfect location for the new spa.

Believing the time was right, Mnuchin broached the idea to her daughter, who was on bed rest, pregnant with her fourth child. The two then devoted themselves whole-heartedly to the task of developing the spa. "When we started working to create the Mayflower Destination Spa, my mother and I were determined to set a new standard for the spa experience, one that is uniquely beneficial," says Hedley, who serves as president and creative director. "We are striving to provide the ultimate blend of personalized service, classes that range from challenging to restorative, nourishing spa treatments, luxurious accommodations, and innovative spa cuisine."

Ideal for couples, this treatment room features a hydrotherapy tub and shower built for two.
Ideal for couples, this treatment room features a hydrotherapy tub and shower built for two.

Set on the newly acquired land, the 20,000-square-foot Spa House serves as the hub for all spa-related activity. Designed by New York-based interior designer Randy Ridless, it provides a luxurious retreat with its soft colors and sensuous fabrics. Mnuchin was adamant that the decor complement the classic New England architectural exteriors of the Spa House and Mayflower Inn. She also wanted the color scheme to reflect the natural surroundings and create a sense of meditative calm. Enveloping guests in total relaxation, the sun-drenched Garden Room is just one of the Spa House's many highlights. Others include the indoor pool, the mosaic-domed whirlpool, and the seasonally scented Thermal Sanctuary.

A cozy window seat gives the residential-style changing rooms a comforting sense of home.
A cozy window seat gives the residential-style changing rooms a comforting sense of home.

Guests can experience the Mayflower Spa in any number of ways. For those interested in the full destination experience, the spa offers a Sunday through Friday retreat for up to 28 women at a time. According to Hedley, the spa is geared primarily toward women because it creates a scenario in which guests can bond more intimately. Men needn't despair over being left out, however, as the spa offers numerous co-ed weeks as well as three weekend options in which they can participate. The Ultimate Mayflower Weekend ($2,310) includes two nights accommodation, six healthy spa cuisine meals, unlimited access to all scheduled Active Body and Mind-Spirit classes and two 60-minute treatments per person. The Mayflower Spa Weekend ($1,850) offers a similar package without the spa cuisine. Weekend guests not enrolled in a spa plan can also enjoy the Spa House with an access fee of $100, which allows them to participate in all scheduled Active Body classes, access to the facilities, such as pools and Thermal Sanctuary, and á la carte spa and salon treatments. Specialty weeks are available for couples and men.

The all-white Garden Room invites guests to relax in the lap of luxury.
The all-white Garden Room invites guests to relax in the lap of luxury.

To get the most out of the Mayflower experience, guests take part in a pre-arrival consultation to discuss their goals and intentions. The consult, referred to as a Blue Heron Insight, is designed to give Mayflower's personal spa advisors help in developing an individualized program that meets the needs of each guest. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a spa advisor and given a tour of the Spa House and an opportunity to meet their fellow spa guests.

The spa's  Thermal Sanctuary features a number of decorative accents.
The spa's Thermal Sanctuary features a number of decorative accents.

An important component of the destination spa experience, cuisine was given careful consideration by both Mnuchin and Hedley. Wanting to offer nutritious but delicious fare, the two brought in chef Cary Neff, who served as executive chef at Miraval Life in Balance Resort and Spa in Catalina, AZ. There, he introduced his award-winning Conscious Cuisine, which is based on the premise that eating nutritiously doesn't have to be boring or bland. As the spa cuisine consultant for Mayflower Inn & Spa, Neff developed a series of menus incorporating seasonally changing and locally grown herbs and produce. Guests enjoy lunch at the Spa House loggia along with a variety of fresh juices, teas, and healthy snacks throughout the day. Dinner is served in the spa dining room at Mayflower House, part of the main inn.

Guests work up quite an appetite with all there is to do at the spa. With a host of activities from which to choose, guests typically begin each day at 7 A.M. with either an outdoor walk or the Mayflower Rise & Shine, an invigorating sequence of movements, in the Willow studio. Other indoor activities include Ballet, Blue Heron Yoga Blend, Funk & Fun, NIA, Pilates, Yoga Flow, and more. The Spa House comes complete with four fully equipped exercise studios, including a private Pilates studio, to accommodate such pursuits. Taking advantage of its locale near Connecticut's Steeprock Reserve, the spa also offers a number of outdoor activities. For those interested in more mindful pursuits, the spa offers a full menu of Mind-Spirit classes, which include Memoir Writing, Music Therapy, and more. All seek to provide ways to quiet the mind and gain a sense of greater self-awareness.

Guests are encouraged to relax in the seasonally scented Thermal Sanctuary prior to their spa treatments.
Guests are encouraged to relax in the seasonally scented Thermal Sanctuary prior to their spa treatments.

In creating the menu, Hedley wanted to offer treatments that would be responsive to the skin's needs. She also thought it important to select seasonally balanced treatments and those that address all the senses. For instance, the Mayflower Sweet Surrender ($145, 60 minutes) uses a blend of acupressure, craniosacral, and lymphatic work to promote relaxation. Aromatherapy, guided visualizations, and music are all available to enhance the session.

Unlike most spas, Mayflower Destination Spa offers guests unlimited treatments. According to Hedley, the idea behind this was to encourage guests to sample a variety of treatments and not feel limited by the price. Although this might seem a recipe for disaster with guests scheduling treatment after treatment, the reality is that most guests average about two treatments a day. Proving there can be too much of a good thing, Hedley notes that guests are more likely to cancel treatments as the week progresses. Many guests also alter their schedules after hearing feedback from other guests. According to Hedley, every week different classes and treatments reign supreme as guests discuss their favorites with each other.



From providing freshly laundered t-shirts and warm-up suits each day to heart rate monitors and MP3 Players with personalized music selections, the spa leaves little to chance, as Mnuchin and Hedley have thought of virtually everything so that their guests needn't bother. Ultimately, the mother-daughter duo focused on creating the type of spa they wanted to visit. The end result brings luxury to the forefront and raises the bar on the destination spa experience. "We love it when guests tell us that they've learned something here that translates into a tool or strategy they can take back and use in their daily life," says Hedley. "For us, that's the greatest compliment."

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