I INHALED THE DELICATE SCENT of the sage wafting through the air as I lay motionless on the table, the soft sound of my therapist’s feet grazing the ground as she navigated her way around the dark room, waving a smoldering stack of herbs in rhythm to a soundtrack of ritualistic music. All at once the sounds ceased and the room stilled, signaling the real healing would soon begin.
It had been exactly two months and 21 days since I last had a good night’s sleep when I walked into the Woodlands Spa at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. I know that because that was the exact age of my son on that day, whose arrival brought great joy and many sleepless nights into my life. I booked the hour- and-45-minute Dream Catcher massage at the spa in hopes of finding relaxation and possibly even restoration for the often dreamless sleep patterns I was quickly developing.
I found so much more.
Like many of the treatments at Woodlands Spa, the Dream Catcher Massage acts as an homage to the resort’s Native American roots, promoting well-being and relaxation for guests with a wide range of targeted treatments. Dream catchers were a common talisman used by Native Americans to protect them from bad dreams and evil spirits; only good dreams and positive energy would pass through to the sleeper below. The concept of positive energy work inspired the spa treatment which begins with the burning of white sage to purify the mind and body and ends with a “casting of the nets” to symbolize rebirth. It also incorporates relaxing lomi lomi massage techniques to enhance the treatment and truly bring about a spiritual and physical healing in guests. The spa first opened in 1988 but has since undergone countless upgrades and remodels to bring it to its current 32,000 square feet with 40 treatment rooms where guests can select from a menu of approximately 60 treatment options. The price of all spa treatments includes the use of an indoor heated lap pool, whirlpool, sauna areas, locker rooms, steam rooms and a fitness center, transforming even a simple 25-minute facial into cause for at least a half day at the spa. Along with a range of facials, massages and body treatments, the spa offers hydrotherapy rituals like the Rosemary-Mint Immersion that combines a relaxing massage with a hydrating soak experience.
Even though the spa hosts more than 43,000 treatments each year, most spa guests remain surprised by the exclusive feel and private atmosphere they experience while in the spa, where quiet areas are sacred and even the hair and nail salons have a calming ambience about them. The spa is open to guests 14 years of age and older. However, younger guests aren’t left out of the pampering and are welcomed at The Grove, a kids’ spa offering age-appropriate services like teen massages and manicures and pedicures for children ages 5–13.
One of the newest additions to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort’s wellness offerings is the Holistic Healing Center, located adjacent to the resort’s Falling Rock accommodations. The center integrates Eastern and Western techniques for achieving life balance and wellness. Therapists, educators and medical practitioners work together at the Holistic Healing Center to offer whole-body solutions that go deeper than simply treating the physical symptoms guests are experiencing. The center operates, as do many European wellness resorts, with many guests staying for weeks to undergo treatments ranging from twice-weekly acupuncture sessions and metabolic counseling with meal-planning sessions to infrared therapies and sensory deprivation sessions. The center aims to help heal guests mentally and physically, and four treatment rooms provide the space for more than 33 different treatments, including a private meditation room, a private consultation space and an outdoor Zen garden.
The goal at both the Holistic Healing Center and Woodlands Spa is transformation; treatments aren’t placed on the menu for popularity’s sake but rather because each has been chosen — and often created by an expert on staff — to offer a true service for guests, from relaxing massages to sleep-promoting therapies like the one I chose.
I didn’t drift off to sleep once during the entire hour and 45 minutes I was on the table during the Dream Catcher, but as the rhythmic hum of the singing bowl reverberated through the room, my mind seemed to wake up for the first time in months. I woke with a clarity of who I was — not just a mom, not just a wife — and felt a renewed passion for pursuing the healthy habits that once filled my days before becoming a mom. I may not have gotten back the two months and 21 days of missed sleep, but I returned to my family renewed, refreshed and rested enough to help inspire my little boy’s very own dreams.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
1001 Lafayette Drive Farmington, PA 15437
tel 866 344 6957