My toe nails are Tiffany Box Blue. This plucky pedicure choice is because it is February and sandal season isn’t for another three months. Mary has opted for a dark violet and Sue is heading to Florida in two weeks and went with a neutral, pale pink.
The pedicure is the last of our spa treatments at Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox, Massachusetts. We are cocooned in terry cloth, happy to have our winter toes exposed to some pampering, yet sad that our massages in dusk lighting with Yanni music in the background are over.
“I warned Ryan that I am a tense person so don’t expect too much from me,” I say to my fellow spa ladies about my young, male masseur, “but he assured me I wasn’t tight at all.”
We laugh a lot when we get together and can say whatever is on our minds without offending each other. Maybe it’s because I’ve known these girls since the Berlin Wall came down, Margaret Thatcher resigned, Iraq invaded Kuwait, Milli Vanilli relinquished their Grammy and Vanilla Ice was a rapper not a flipper.
We were in college when I first met Mary. Part-time employees for the pension management division of a large insurance company, our afternoons were sleepy, long, with grey cubicles, grey people, flickering fluorescent lights and reams of green and white lined computer paper. We bonded while signing male executive’s signatures on sales letters, collating, stuffing envelopes and filing new pension laws into three ring binders.
Mary, Sue and I were all English majors, each taking our degrees into different professions. Mary is a librarian at an inner city elementary school working on her second master’s degree, Sue is the chair of the English Department at a community college and I head up fund-raising for a YMCA.
For the last decade we have enjoyed an annual spa weekend of shopping, eating, and indulging in seaweed wraps, aromatherapy, hot stone massages, honey facials all while solving the world’s problems. There is no laundry, no constant TV airing Teen Titan’s Go, or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and endless marathons of Fast N’ Loud.
In a one hour car ride we cover a lot of topic territory. An expert linguistic wouldn’t be able to follow our stream of conscious conversation. In five minutes we volley from ten different topics: the election, anthroposophical medicine, old boyfriends, husbands, vacations, vaccinations, millennials, and whether or not we are messing up our kids.
There are two boys between the three of us and their life consists of cello, private school, drums, basketball, drama club, art classes, trips to Disney and London … we conclude our kids are living the dream.
Every year we try to select a new hotel and spa combination for our weekends. We consider ourselves spa connoisseurs and love to critique our experiences.
Mystic, Connecticut: The Red Door Spa at the Mystic Marriott is one of my favorite spas. They know how to do spa and the Marriott is nicely equipped, with a great Starbucks in the lobby. Close to the ocean, downtown Mystic, and a half hour from Connecticut casinos it is a nice overnight destination. Decent shopping at the Clinton and Westbrook Outlets off of 95.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire: The Wentworth Hotel is beautiful, recently renovated and nicely situated by the water. Portsmouth has great dining options and a really inviting downtown area for strolling and shopping. The Kittery, Maine outlets aren’t too far away for shopping as well. We went in late fall and ate at the Martingale Wharf twice. Their outside deck is right on the water and they have heat lamps, fire pits and blankets to wrap yourself warmly from the crisp, fall air. The Spa Girls all agreed that the spa’s waiting room was like a doctor’s office and the spa staff chatted us up too much during our treatments. The hotel also needed to provide some nice accouterments in the lobby area. How about some live music on a Saturday night, or a coffee and tea set up all day long?
We have gone to spas close to the Connecticut casinos of Foxwood and Mohegun Sun including the Spa at Norwich. What’s nice about the casino’s proximity is that you have easy access to entertainment, gambling and restaurants. I will say these spas are very busy, with lots of people so if you are looking for tranquility opt for a spa away from casinos. We enjoyed the rustic, colonial bar at the Spa at Norwich and chatting up the bartender from Hungary.
The Saybrook Point Inn Spa is also newly renovated with soft blues and white decor. The hotel has some nice restaurants and hosts weddings great for crashing. Sue and I enjoy crashing weddings. At Saybrook Point, Dana and Bobby were getting married so we enjoyed their Facebooth and got our picture taken and uploaded onto my Facebook page:
After we successfully infiltrated Facebooth, Sue and I tried to bust a move on the dance floor to Ton Loc, but the wedding bouncer escorted us off the dance floor and we boogied back out into the hallway giggling.
Sue and I did try to crash a wedding at the Wentworth. This couple spent some serious money on their band who were great. They had bouncers too, but they at least let us hover at the door for two songs and then told us to leave.
Despite all our outlet shopping, our best luck is at our favorite store, T. J. Maxx. What’s especially nice is that Sue’s husband is a big wig at TJX so we enjoy texting him suggestions to improve the shopping experience. Of course Dave, Sue’s husband, oversees Home Goods and doesn’t really care what we think of TJ Maxx. We think the three of us would make great TJ Maxx spokespeople, like the three women who sing the praises of Big Lots every Christmas.
It might be another year before our next spa weekend so we are talking about doing a spa day in my town. There is a TJ Maxx, Natural Nails Salon and Spa where for $75 you can get a manipedi and a half hour facial.
Back at Cranwell Resort, we settle into some chaise lounges by the indoor pool, Berkshire mountains stand just outside the bright plate glass windows. When we get to be Spa Girls for a day or two it’s like being 22 again … maybe more like 32 again. In our minds time has stopped and we are just young girls, laughing, carefree and far away from middle age complications.
Three elderly women breast stroke up and down the pool, their hair in kerchiefs to protect their tight perms.
“Will that be us in 35 years,” I ask.
Sue and Mary say, “definitely”.