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Spa Vitale

Spa Vitale

Published: 05-07-2011 - Last Edited: 19-08-2021

Spa Vitale

Most folks in the hospitality industry have an opinion about Chip Conley”™s sleek “post-boutique chic” oasis on the waterfront, Hotel Vitale. When it opened in December 2004, it was criticized for being utilitarian, and even ugly. Now, the muted earth tones, old-fashioned comfort and unbeatable customer service have won many naysayers over. Oh, and have I mentioned that Vitale houses a scrumptious nouveau Italian restaurant ”“ Café Americano ”“ and offers free yoga classes and kayaking on the bay, as well as soothing treatments in their penthouse spa?

There are countless reasons to spend a day or two at Vitale, but none that are as tantalizing as the rooftop spa. A pint-sized nook with a sweeping view of the Bay, Spa Vitale boasts the same modest serenity as the hotel, and an ambiance of sophisticated minimalism combined with Zen refuge that infuses the entire place.

I thumb through the pages of a coffee table book on meditation, before being ushered out to perhaps the spa”™s most distinctive delicacy: an outdoor bamboo garden flanked by a bona fide bathhouse. Actually, it”™s only two 142-gallon deep-soaking tubs, but they”™re enormous enough to warrant some admiration. It”™s the end of another workday along the Bay, when I peel off my robe and settle into the churning tub. Though I”™m shrouded by mini-trees and exotic florals, neighboring buildings loom above me, a constant reminder that I”™m smack dab in the midst of urbanity. Strangely, especially because of most city spas”™ tendency to shoot for a natural backdrop, the metropolitan atmosphere is actually quite refreshing. (Given the vicinity of office windows, bashful spa-goers might want to have their bathing suits on hand if they decide to take a soak.)

I focus on the darkening sky and a smattering of stars above me as I settle into my tub. Lavender, tangerine, rosemary and goat”™s milk have been whipped up in a delicious mixture and tossed into the water, making my skin feel super-soft. I sip on rooibos tea, nibble some grapes and swab my head with cool cloths. Needless to say, the 25-minute bathing ritual comes to an end before I know it.

After the exhilaration of being in my own private oasis, I head off to my next nap-worthy treatment, a Spa Vitale special known as From the Crown on Down, which is a mixture of acupressure techniques and aromatherapy massage. As I burrow underneath the cozy comforter on the massage bed, my gracious therapist brings me herbal tea to sip on before she goes to work. The treatment utilizes a “vitality blend” of sage, lavender and bergamot. The massage component involves just the extremities: a soothing scalp rub, hand massage and foot polish. Smooth river stones are placed all along my chakra points, their heavy warmth making me feel completely grounded and safe. As I emerge from my treatment in a lavender mist, I feel like I”™m coming out of a meditation or yoga session rather than a spa treatment.

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Spa Vitale”™s other offerings include side-by-side Swedish massage in the Aria room, which boasts enormous glass windows that frame the Bay Bridge. A lunch-time favorite is the San Francisco Treat, an hour of attention vigorously lavished on your hands and feet, with an organic lavender sugar scrub and a tingle-inducing peppermint foot masque. Couples interested in taking the spa experience home can also enroll in a hands-on couples massage class, in which a licensed therapist guides you through all the basics and not-so-basics, such as craniosacral therapy or Eastern techniques.

Unlike most hotel spas, Spa Vitale has the intimacy of a tucked-away neighborhood establishment that invites repeat visits. The spa menu is sparser than others, but the quality of service and, of course, the bathhouse with a view are reason enough to swallow down all the hype and head over for some waterfront indulgence.

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