A Day at the Spa 5

Spavia owner Dawn Porter says, “wellness is a necessity.” After my time there, I couldn’t agree more.

I am in the throes of back to school chaos and have a migraine by the time my kids and I have crossed the last item off our back to school shopping list. It’s probably due to the brain energy required to figure out the complicated problem of how to split glue stick packs up in the fairest way for each classroom, and if it’s kosher to send pencils unsharpened on the first day. Or it could be the stress of trying to gauge how much my kids will grow so that I’m not buying new uniform pants within a month’s time, or new shoes to replace ones not worn out but simply outgrown.

Regardless, I walk into Spavia two days later with the leftovers of my headache, and more tension in my neck than I know what to do with. I’m stressed. This time of year is getting to me, and I’m mentally cataloging calendar items, due dates, and worries about my children.

But that starts to ease the minute I cross the threshold into Spavia. The immediate calm is surprising, given Spavia’s location on State Street in an unassuming corner of a busy strip mall. I’m greeted by fresh-faced girls with big smiles who help me fill out a personal profile and then whisk me away to a beautiful locker room where a soft robe and slippers await.

I change, wander into the relaxation room and ease back on to the pillows that line a banquette couch, while wearing a warm lavender neck pillow and balancing a cup of tea in one hand and a little book in the other. It’s strangely multi-taskish, given the quiet setting and I find I’m still a ball of busy nerves, unable to control my thoughts.

I sip the tea and open the book. On the first page I flip to, a hand-lettered quote urges “Let Go.” And I decide to try, grateful suddenly for the dimness of the room, the lack of magazines with alarmist headlines and pop culture references, and the soft music. The space has somehow managed to turn all the outside noise down, and it’s helping me—suggesting I turn down the inside noise too.

But it’s a process. Spavia owner Dawn Porter says that the word “spavia” actually means “the path to wellness.” And this rings true in my moment of trying to “Let Go.” Maybe it’s hard for us stressed-out types to immediately unplug; maybe it takes a time or two of practicing it. Or maybe it’s just that the extra stressy types need this kind of calm on the regular.

And this is what I’m thinking as soon as Oakli starts my Premier Vita-C Radiance Facial (60 minutes, $99)—that I already want to come back. I don’t know if it’s the gentle exfoliating, the painting of something thick and wonderful and cold back on my face after it steams, or the hot stone arm and shoulder massage included with the procedure, but I already want to experience it all again. Thankfully, returning regularly is truly an affordable option, as Spavia offers membership packages that discount each service, allow services to roll over month-to-month, and even lets family members share.

Rachel is my massage therapist. She is sweet and professional, asking specifically about where I hurt, if she should watch for anything, if she’s allowed to touch my hair. (Which I appreciate because my hair happens to be clean, and I hate washing it.) What follows is the Essential Signature Massage, aka the best massage I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure I drooled, fell asleep and didn’t care one bit about what my hair looked like as she teased the dregs of that headache and tension out of my neck. Rachel incorporates the long, fluid movements of Swedish massage into the full body, 60 minutes, $79 treatment, but tells me that there are other options available, including hot stone, deep tissue, couples, maternity and sports massages.

On my way out, I run into a membership client who asks how my day went. I gush; she agrees, saying that Spavia is the best place she’s ever been for massages, and that it’s greatly helped her chronic back pain. She emphasizes the concept that, although often associate with luxury, taking care of your body in this way is necessary. Today she is getting a spray tan for fun, and it’s then that I learn that in addition to massages and facials, Spavia also offers natural eyelash extensions, body treatments, skin therapy and waxing.

It’s true that I’m charmed by the place, and it feels like a little bit of heaven in my otherwise often-chaotic world. I see my car outside the windows—it represents the millions of places I will have to run my children to all afternoon, but I’m ok with it. I walk out of Spavia happy and relaxed, in a cloud of guava scented lotion with marks on my face from the massage table. I am taking the Zen with me: the sky looks bluer and the world looks gorgeous, even from the car. As I drive away, my phone starts to ping and vibrate—I have four missed calls and 15 texts. And it doesn’t stress me out one bit.