Although it's only a little more than a year old, the Spa at Sawgrass, part of the famed 4,800-acre Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa, situated in Ponte Vedra Beach on northern Florida's Atlantic Coast, has already proved to be a valuable addition to the resort's wealth of amenities and services. Set in a lush landscape of lagoons framed by moss-draped oaks and giant magnolias, the spa warmly welcomes guests into a tranquil space of Zen-inspired serenity suffused with the subtle aroma of Sawgrass's signature scent of lemongrass, ginger, and sandalwood. The soothing effect of the spa's interior is enhanced by its decor of bamboo, polished wood paneling, and cream stone tiles.
The 20,000-square-foot facility is administered by a staff of 65, which includes massage therapists, estheticians, and nail technicians. "The performance of the staff is critical to a spa's success, and I am especially proud of the team we have put together at Sawgrass," says spa director Tanya Lee, who goes on to emphasize the importance of the spa's "special brand of southern hospitality extended to guests." Formerly a spa consultant in Italy, Lee was also involved in the opening of The Spa at the Breakers (Palm Beach, FL) and later served as spa director at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Koloa, HI). She arrived at the property in July 2004 and over the next six months helped develop the spa menu as well as oversaw the hiring and training of personnel to ensure that all would be up and running smoothly in time for the opening.
"Massage is by far the preferred treatment, so fourteen of the nineteen treatment rooms are dedicated to massage with four allotted for skincare and one for nail services," notes Lee. Two deluxe body rooms come equipped with Vichy showers and baths that offer a distinctive massage combining air, heat, and water along with a chromatherapy option featuring mood-enhancing colors that evoke emotions from calm and tranquil to creative and stimulating. Guests who prefer an outdoor massage can enjoy the airy atmosphere of the Tea House, a custom-designed teakwood cabana with gauze curtains billowing in the breeze.
The spa is set amid lagoons, moss-draped oaks, palm trees, and giant magnolias.
Specially trained "relaxation artists" are on hand to greet guests and assist them in creating a personalized program of treatments tailored to their particular preferences. Possibilities range from 25-minute Express Therapies to five-hour treatment packages. While most treatments are available for 50- or 80-minute increments, Express Therapies have been designed to provide the maximum benefit for guests with limited time. The menu of brief encounters includes a 25-minute Sawgrass customized massage, energizing and detoxifying baths, and express manicures and pedicures.
According to Lee, women usually opt for the 50-minute Sawgrass Customized Massage ($85), which is one of Sawgrass's signature services and is also available for 25 ($50), 80 ($135), and 110 minutes ($185). "This is a basic Swedish massage, and with guest approval, the therapist may also incorporate shiatsu and deep-tissue techniques during the treatment as well as reflexology," says Lee. The use of oils and lotions enhance the massage, and stones employed in the warm stone massage may also be used during the treatment.
A variety of manicures and pedicures are available in a colorful, spacious setting.
The favorite men's treatment is the Sports Massage ($105, 50 minutes), consisting of a deep-tissue massage with assisted stretching. It is especially popular with golfers seeking relief from tightness or stiffness in the shoulders and back. Sawgrass has long been a golf mecca and currently ranks as the second-largest golf resort in the U.S., with five courses interspersed among its 4,800 acres. As a result, the spa offers a range of golf-inspired treatments and packages. For instance, All Fores ($85, 50 minutes) is a combination hand-and-foot massage using a variety of techniques, including pressure point and stone therapy.
"Our second most popular treatment is the pedicure, and this is in line with a recent trend across the country where nail treatments have taken off," says Lee. "Pedicures have become comparable to a facial for the feet, employing more pampering techniques such as wrapping feet in hot towels and placing stones between the toes. I find that men are much more open to foot treatments than ever before and have come to realize that nothing is better than a pedicure."
Fourteen of the 19 treatment rooms at the spa are dedicated to massage.
Treatments run the gamut from an East-Indian-inspired Ayurveda treatment ($85, 50 minutes; $135, 80 minutes) and the Soothing Aloe Body Mask ($85, 50 minutes) to Thai Massage ($105, 50 minutes; $150, 80 minutes) and the Pressure Point Hand and Foot Massage ($50, 25 minutes; $85, 50 minutes). For those seeking the ultimate indulgence, packages entitled Touch, Mind, Body, and Soul include up to six treatments plus a special lunch from Soothies, the spa's refreshment area. For example, Touch ($500, 5 1/2 hours) offers guests their choice of hydrotherapy bath, body treatment, massage, facial, manicure, and pedicure, whereas Mind ($400, 5 hours) includes visualization and breathing exercises as well as choice of hydrotherapy bath, facial or massage, body treatment, and manicure and pedicure. Although Sawgrass is primarily known as a golf resort, with the addition of the spa, it is also building a reputation as a bonafide spa destination.