A Feng Shui Master might call it the result of good chi, but I say it was random good timing that the launch of Porter Airlines’ new service from Toronto to Boston coincided with the first anniversary of the Mandarin Oriental Boston and my intended visit.
Weather co-operating, the flight gets you there in roughly 65-minutes, and Logan International is so conveniently close to the city core, it’s a quick and easy getaway destination.
The city offers numerous spas — many of which are mixed in with cafes, galleries and designer shops along chic Newbury Street in the ritzy Back Bay neighbourhood — but with the opening of the Mandarin Oriental, the spa bar has been raised.
Simply arriving at the sleek boutique hotel sets the tone for anyone seeking a sense of well-being. That could have something to do with the Feng Shui Master who consulted on the project.
Among the things he recommended was relocating the front entrance to align with the Charles River and allow the free flow of good energy from the water element.
Further nods to Feng Shui principals are incorporated throughout as fire, metal and other elements are worked into the gracious and contemporary design and decor.
Located on the fourth level of the hotel, the gracious spa anchors the Lifestyle Floor. This is where you also find eight Lifestyle Rooms with special amenities such as bamboo floors, yoga mats and a selection of wellness-related reading material.
The small but well-equipped gym is also here. No worries if you’ve forgotten to pack your work-out gear — the spa provides. Clothing, shoes and socks come complimentary courtesy of the spa and Nike. I asked, and they delivered to my room neatly presented on a bamboo tray.
As guests enter the spa, the sound of water trickling down a marble wall sets a calming mood. Memories of other Mandarin Oriental hotels visited — Singapore, Miami, New York — come to mind and I know it’s the little touches that make the MO spa collection distinctive.
The arrival ritual, for instance, offers guests a small bowl of herbal tea and a hot cloth presented on a small bamboo tray, as shoes are exchanged for a pair of spa sandals. There are fresh orchids gently placed on pristine white towels and a gift for each guest.
The largest and most luxurious in the city, the spa offers nine treatment rooms, private wet areas and a tranquil Tea Lounge where spa meals are served. In the ladies’ locker room with its experiential shower, whirlpool and Crystal Steam Room, I take time to steam and allow the crystals to draw out any negative energies, then cool down courtesy of a fountain of crushed ice.
Spas in the collection each offer a full menu of services with signature treatments such as the customized Time Rituals and those developed in consultation with specialists of Traditional Chinese Medicine but today, I decided to “buy local.” and go for the New England Retreat.
This one hour and 50-minute experience — including scrub, wrap and massage — incorporates local-grown herbs such as horsetail, lavender, calendula and St. John’s Wort. As with most of the spa brand’s specialty treatments, this one begins with a ritual foot bath and the pure resonating peal of Tibetan chimes.
It’s a lovely treatment and totally appropriate for a city that bills itself as the Gateway to New England.
Post treatment, it’s back to the relaxation room for a quiet moment, to sip on water and snack on almonds before heading to nearby Newbury Street for a little retail therapy. It’s all about balance.