Last Christmas I received a gift certificate to a spa. And not just for any old spa, but the Willow Stream Spa at the historic Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. I was elated, and not being a regular ‘spa girl,’ this was a luxury. A year later the gift certificate was burning a hole in my pocket, so I finally made the time to go during my lunch break from work.
With my faded, saggy bathing suit in my bag, I strolled to the spa as if this was all very normal. But as soon as I walked in the door, nervousness took over. I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. Babbling nervously, I told the receptionist my concerns, and she reassured me with her spa-like voice.
She led me down to the bowels of the ancient hotel. I was sure ghosts would be laughing at my saggy bathing suit. She explained I was entitled to use the sauna, steam room, Kur mineral pool, hotel pool and Jacuzzi, AND the sitting room with complimentary yogurt, fruit, and tea. Yahoo!! Snacks!
We went to the change rooms comprising of lockers kitted with fluffy robes and flip flops. Each locker had a resettable punch-code lock. She showed me how it worked, and told me to call the front desk if I needed anything.
Just as she turned to leave, I tried the lock. Lights flashed and gears grinded.
“OH! I broke it already!” I panicked, calling after the girl.
“It’s okay, you didn’t break it,” she crooned in her spa-like voice, “Just press this, this, then this. See, it’s here on the instructions.” She patiently pointed to the instructions RIGHT beside my locker.
“Oh, um…thanks.” I mumbled. She smiled her spa-smile then floated away.
I changed and nervously locked up my stuff. Pristine white towels were everywhere, so I left my old frayed towel, grabbed my robe and flip flops, and went off to investigate.
I had less than an hour, so I had to hurry along. I couldn’t do the sauna or steam room – a wilting hair-do wouldn’t do for work. So I thought I would try the Kur mineral pool.
Fountains splashed at either end of the tiny pool, but the rebounding droplets were a little too much for my liking. So after some navigating I found a spot where my hair wouldn’t suffer, and tried to relax.
The fountains were too loud and there was no music to listen to. With nothing to do I read the plaque about the traditional tepid pool - 50 times over. The recommended fifteen minute soak was taking forever. Added to that, the strategically placed underwater lights highlighted my thigh cellulite.
This wasn’t working.
So maybe the Jacuzzi would be better, and it was also a safe-hair zone. The spa/mineral pool area led way to the hotel guests’ pool and Jacuzzi, separated by a locked door with a code – on the spa side.
So I tried the Jacuzzi….and watched the clock. I was determined to enjoy this. I had the whole place to myself, and this time there were windows to look out, so at least I had SOMETHING to do. Lean back, empty my mind, close my eyes, and…
But I had to get out for a towel to dab the sweat trickling down my face. I not only had my hair to worry about but my make-up, as well.
I got the towel, dabbed delicately, and ignoring the gobs of make-up left on the pristine white towel, went back in the Jacuzzi.
Lean back, empty my mind, close my eyes (one peek at the clock told me I had been in there for 6 minutes), and….
Get out again, get the towel, dab my sweat…
After the third time I finally got smart and put the towel on the pools’ edge beside me.
The dabbing got to be too much, and sweat trickled from my scalp down my forehead. This wasn’t good for neither hair nor make-up, so I got out.
Remember the door with a code leading back to the spa?
I forgot the number.
Luckily there was a phone right next to the vault-like door – for dopes like me – so I called the spa reception desk.
“Um, hi.” I mumbled, dripping on the pool deck in my fluffy robe. “I’m locked out of the spa. I forgot the code to get back in.” I hung my sweaty head and muttered, “Sorry, I’m new.”
With a spa-like sigh, the receptionist told me the code. As I went through the mineral pool area towards the change rooms, I passed the sitting room and remembered – I’m starving!
Trying not to make eye contact with the lady getting a foot massage, I got a yogurt (or two), grabbed a magazine and a tea, and tried to look spa-like. Even after the foot-massage-lady left (I could finally get some peace and quiet!), I couldn’t concentrate.
So I roamed around a bit to get a feel for the place (like I was going to return anytime soon after such stress!).
Seeing as I didn’t have too much time left, I went back to the mineral pool, and positioned myself ‘just so’ to preserve the hair. Luckily it wasn’t hot enough to induce sweat, and then….
I finally relaxed - only 45 minutes after first arriving.
So I guess my New Year’s resolutions will be to take more time to relax, and always follow instructions.