Spa Spotlight: Seeing the [Spa] Light in Monte Carlo
In February, I was graciously invited to visit the tiny yet robust principality of Monaco by members of its local New York tourism bureau. I was further flattered by a subsequent invitation to experience the renowned spa, Thermes Marins, which connects two of Monte-Carlo’s finest hotels, the Hôtel de Paris and Hôtel Hermitage. After a harrowing journey – which included a rush to the airport in one of the winter’s heaviest snow storms and a five-hour unexpected layover in a Zurich airport terminal with many shops for a tired, tempted traveler – I arrived in sunny Monaco with just five minutes to spare before my spa appointment. Talk about rushing to the spa as soon as you arrive!
In any case, my pace began to slow as I entered the spiraling, gilded lobby of the spa, noticing right away how the use of natural light accentuated the brilliance of the décor. After being greeted warmly by the spa director, my therapist led me to the locker room where I changed and deposited my belongings into a little basket, which an attendant took to a designated storage room. As we wound up the stairway to the treatment facilities, my therapist explained to me the different sections of the spa: the wet areas, the facial and massage rooms, and the hydrotherapy suites, the last of which would be my haven for the next few hours.
As I entered the room, I squinted, my eyes expecting the usual dimly lit treatment room, only to realize I was looking directly out to the Mediterranean Sea! The hydrotherapy suite featured a massage bed, a hydrotherapy tub, a private shower, and most notably, a floor-to-ceiling paneled window overlooking the entire Monte-Carlo bay harbor and the beautiful sea while letting in rays of sunlight. For a split second I worried that I might not be able to relax with the abundance of natural light in the room (not to mention the glimpse of me that those in the harbor might catch), but as I settled onto the massage table and into the first phase of my treatment, a sea salt scrub, I knew I was in for a treat.
Following the scrub, I was led to the hydrotherapy tub for a soak and a brewed beverage (no, not beer) with detoxification elements. Then, I returned to the massage table for a traditional massage and, instead of using oils, my therapist offered to use lotion remembering that I had told of my dinner plans with the site-visit group that evening – how thoughtful!
In the light of Thermes Marins, I experienced first-hand not only the elements of thalassotherapy (of which the spa is known), but the reinvigorating qualities of one of the most abundant sources of energy on earth – sunlight!