casa madrona

Marin County offers some of the most accessible and stunning nature in California. The town of Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, is the  picturesque home of the Casa Madrona Inn and Spa. A welcome change of pace from city life, it is the only destination spa in Marin County, drawing locals, hotel guests and tourists alike. 

The spa lobby and lounge welcome guests with beiges and browns, dark and earthy. Aromas of lavender flirt with the olfactory glands while the eyes adjust to the dim light, allowing rest to begin descending as soon as you enter the spa. Its ambiance is warm and unpretentious, but not at all for lack of luxury. Indeed, any veteran spa-goer would feel more than comfortable with the range of services and sophisticated facilities, which include eight treatment rooms, two estheticians, a nail technician and eight body-workers. Casa Madrona has recently unveiled a revolutionary partnership with a local company called Barefoot and Pregnant to become the country’s first maternity destination spa for expecting mothers, offering such luxuries as belly facials and prenatal massages. 

The spa manager, Cassandra Erpenbach, welcomed me to inquire about any of the treatments, explaining that she takes pleasure in watching an initially timid client come for a massage and leave with a vow to come more often and take better care of his or her body. In my case at least, it worked. After a long week of legal writing and nail-biting lectures, I could have been lured to weekend parties to relieve my typical law-student stress. Fortunately I was offered the option of Casa Madrona’s Detoxifying Seaweed Body Wrap! 

The treatment had three distinct and delicious phases. For an entire hour and a half, I lie on a table that had a sort of arm hanging over it with six or more shower heads pointing down at me and faux ivy wrapped around it. The first hour had me guessing how the super-shower was going to work out. The room did not feel like a shower room at all, but was much warmer and reminiscent of a massage setting. 

My therapist exfoliated me from neck to toe with a gritty scrub to remove dead cells and impurities. She generously kept towels in all the necessary places to preserve my modesty and wiped away the exfoliating cream with warm washcloths. Next, she delivered into my hands a delightfully warm beanbag-type pillow I could hold while she mixed a batch of seaweed body mask and slopped it on me from neck to toes. She then proceeded to make me into a giant human burrito with the plastic wrap, on which I was lying with the heated beanbag inside, as she gracefully massaged my face and head into a bliss out of which I am surprised to this day that I was able to awaken from.

After understanding exactly what it means to be a burrito for some time, my therapist started to turn on the shower nozzles, a process that took about five minutes alone. The horizontal Vishy shower is the best of both bath and shower worlds: the reclined relaxing position of a bathtub and the continuously warm and clean water from a shower. Lastly, I was toweled off and rubbed down with oils.

To absorb the delightful state of surrender into which my body had just been introduced, I took several minutes to relax afterward in the steam room. The combination of hydration with the body oils the therapist had rubbed on my skin was soothing and rejuvenating. I would return in a heartbeat to Casa Madrona for the seaweed wrap. It was lusciously detoxifying and motivated me to take better care of myself – maybe even during final exams!

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