Cooking Up Comfort
Burlington, VT, the largest city in the state, is known mostly for its hipsters, outdoor enthustiasts, and musicians. Foodies are also attracted to the city for its array of scrumptious dining options and the chance to taste some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the place in which it was founded. Spa-going foodies can satiate their cravings for both passions at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa (Essex, VT), which is located just miles from downtown Burlington and boasts the 21,000-square-foot Spa at The Essex.
As the Burlington area’s only AAA Four Diamond hotel, The Essex takes food and dining seriously—it is home to an award-winning restaurant, and guests can participate in cooking classes held in the J.K. Adams and Chef’s Kitchen classrooms of Cook Academy. Food even has a place at the spa. In addition to offering treatments that nourish the skin with fresh ingredients, the spa also houses a cafe lounge and juice bar for guests to indulge in healthy drinks and snacks pre- and post-treatment. “Due to our standing as a culinary resort, we are able to offer a unique spa-friendly menu to our clients, ensuring their good health doesn’t end when their treatment is completed,” says spa director Karen Watson. “We feel that the quality of the products that we put on our skin is just as important as the food that we eat. Our menu of services features the benefits of ingredients found in our kitchens and gardens, and all treatments are designed to produce profound results while also pleasing the senses.”
Guests can experience the fruitful benefits of the local ingredients in many of the face and body treatments, like the popular Signature Customized Body Treatment ($140, 50 minutes), which allows guests to create their own body treatment recipes in a body scrub, a body butter, or a massage oil to be used during the service. In addition, the Energizing Body Glow ($60, 25 minutes; $160, 80 minutes) uses bamboo grains infused with essential oils of ginger and lime to gently remove dull, rough, and dry skin, while warmed towels steeped with peppermint, lemon-lime, and pine remove the scrub, revealing smooth, radiant skin.
Even the product lines used at the spa were carefully chosen based on their ingredients, many of which are natural and food-based. “Many of our product lines—Skin Authority, Epicuren, and Aromafloria—highlight quality food-based ingredients, from avocados and green tea to ginger and soy,” says Watson. “These ingredients have excellent benefits for the skin.”
In addition to face and body treatments, the spa offers men’s services and those designed for young adults, like the Young Adult Clear Skin Facial ($115, 50 minutes), which cleanses and exfoliates skin while soothing it and correcting breakouts. Manicures, pedicures, makeup applications, and hair services take place in the adjoining salon area. The space also boasts 10 treatment rooms; men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam rooms, saunas, and private lounges; a four-lane 25-yard indoor pool; an outdoor hot tub; and a fully-equipped fitness center. “When people come to our spa, they are looking for a tranquil environment, rich in hospitality,” says Watson. “I have found that while people are spending their money more readily these days, they are also more particular at ensuring that the value is evident and their expectations are exceeded. A visit to The Spa at The Essex is a complete experience, not like a simple visit to a day spa.”
The spa’s 15 full-time and 18 part-time employees can accommodate up to 120 guests per day. Yet, the five relaxation areas within the spa are designed to make the space feel peaceful and not at all crowded. In addition to the serene environment, the spa’s educated staff help create an unforgettable experience. “We make customer service a major priority,” says Watson. “We train our staff for several days before they even begin their employment here.” Watson considers customer service to be one of the main reasons why the spa is so successful, and at the same time considers it one of the biggest challenges. It’s something she constantly works hard at to ensure guests enjoy their experience and also to attract new clients. She says, “We strive to ensure that guests understand that our traditional Vermont hospitality and the expertise of our extraordinary spa staff are our special ingredients for a memorable spa visit.”