ESCAPING THE DUST OF MY NEW CASA AT ONE OF SAN MIGUEL'S BEST SPAS
March 9, 2011
The invitation from Margarita Valderrama, spa director at Spa Matilda could not have come at a better time. Three weeks into repairs and renovations at our new casa in San Miguel has me feeling up to my ankles in dust; walking the town’s hilly, cobblestone streets have left my feet looking as if they’ve been in a war zone.
One of two new, upscale spas (the other is the spa at the Rosewood San Miguel) in San Miguel’s historic centre, the very stylish and contemporary Spa Matilda, at the equally stylish Hotel Matilda (opened in November, 2010) definitely makes my list of best spas in San Miguel.
Demitri, the spa attendant, meets guests in the concrete and glass lobby of the streetfront, boutique hotel and escorts them pass the dining room and pool areas and down an open staircase to the meticulously-appointed, naturally-lit spa. There are just four treatment rooms: a private hammam for one or two people, two couple’s suites and one single multi-function room. The locker room has two private change rooms each with showers, plus there are indoor and outdoor lounges. All rooms are comfortable with a stylish modern feel.
If you go you’ll find luxurious spa robes, full-size spa products from Nature Bassé (the skin care product line from Spain) in the change rooms, and fresh lavender springs from the hotel’s own garden adding a whisper of colour on stacks of pristine white towels and treatment bed linens.
In between the locker room, the reception desk/retail area and lounge, guests pass through a narrow Apothecary where local ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla are displayed and blended for customized scrubs and wraps.
Other than ornately-carved mirrors that hang on various walls, these customized scrubs and wraps are pretty much the only nod to the flavour of San Miguel. The sleek, internationally-inspired, neutral tone-on-tone design and decor of the hotel has ruffled a few feathers with resident expats living here but well-heeled Mexicans who fill rooms most weekends love the upscale, feel. And, so does this international traveller and new, part-time San Miguel resident.
There’s a small but state-of-the-art gym with glass doors as a noise buffer, a small studio for yoga and Pilates by appointment and a so-called “meditative garden.” This is the only space where the whole spa feel seems to fall apart. The atrium “garden” looks more like a dumping ground for a heap of gravel studded with a few cactus and feeble-looking trees than a place for meditation. The space has so much potential. I would like to think it’s still a work in progress.
In the lounge, with its heated marble floor, I leaf through this month’s English version of Vogue and sip freshly squeezed orange juice until Alma my spa therapists comes to escort me to the private, eucalyptus-scented hammam. Here, the steam is so thick I can barely see the fresh towel-wrapped settee positioned beneath a sophisticated faucet system operating the hamman's rain shower and shower wand. The treatment includes the self-application of special soap, mask and lotion. There is ample time for a steamy “unwind” during this 45-minute Hammam Ritual.
Spa Matilda full menu of services with prices slightly less than you’d find at most luxury hotels. The main product lines are from Germany and Spain. The make-up line is MAC.
My pedicure (using Spa Ritual products) takes place in the private lounge of the deluxe couple’s suite – the size of a small apartment with twin treatment tables, a separate room for whirlpool bath, infinity tub for two, and separate rain shower stall and washroom. It’s a popular spot for couples to spend the better part of a day including lunch served in the space that – when not in use by couples - is used for pedicures.
Educated and trained in Spain, and with 15 years of industry experience under her belt (including her prior position as spa manager at the 5-star Hotel Marquis in Los Cabos) Margarita is a qualified massage and skin care therapist and is trained in acupuncture, homeopathy and Bach Flowers.
Shunning a private office, she works right at the spa’s reception desk so she can interact directly with guests and help them select the right treatments. Margarita says her small team of therapists is hand picked based on training, skill and personality. “We need to live the philosophy that we try to provide,” she says, “mainly love, nurturing and wellness.”
At the moment she is also working with Hotel Matilda’s chef to design a spa cuisine menu.
Visitors to San Miguel may be interested in the Day Pass – available Monday to Thursday for the cost of about $25 U.S. person - which includes use of the gym, locker room and amenities, the lounge with refreshments (tea, juice and water) and the hotel swimming pool.
Drop by the hotel any Thursday to catch a “chick flick” as part of Ladies’ Night in the bar and you could win a spa treatment. The winning “ticket” says Margarita is tucked into one of the truffles passed around to guests at the end of the night.
The movie this Thursday is Frida (Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s legendary female artist). Count me in!
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