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Alchemist Michael Scholes reveals secrets of scent at Salamander Resort

Wafting through the Salamander Resort’s spa reception lounge, a signature fragrance hints of tobacco, sandalwood, cedar, and jasmine. Perhaps it reminds you of a new-mown field, or the forested hills around Middleburg, pleasing the senses, calming the mind.

Actually, the scent was blended by alchemist Michael Scholes with essential oils designed to capture all that Salamander represents.

Scholes created the spa’s Laboratory of Flowers Apothecary. “We formulate fragrances using organic essential oils,” he explains, “combined to create blends that are highly affective and that smell good.”

Crafted in his laboratory near Dulles airport, more than 10 different essential oils are used to create synergistic blends. Behind the spa treatment rooms, therapists select scents to match your mood. Applied by adding to unscented massage oils, or added by the drop to any part of the body that needs attention, they transform a typical massage into a therapeutic experience.

Synergies consist of calming/sleep, circulation, energy, feminine balance, muscle ease, pain relief, pre-natal relaxation, restorative, and stress relief. Made to order and delivered the same day as they are produced, the oils’ synergy complements Salamander spa’s experience in well-being.

Creating a signature fragrance for the Salamander spa, Scholes researched the resort’s equestrian origins. The blend is inspired by the natural environment, he told me, Earthy, smokey, and grounding, with uplifting sensual notes, it makes you feel close to nature.

Based on the ancient art of alchemy practiced by European doctors and goldsmiths, Scholes discovered a new world of natural fragrances in California. Arriving in 1987 from his home in the UK, he met a French doctor who used l’aromathérapie to treat patients. In the 90s, spas introduced aromatherapy in personal care products for bath, body, skin and hair.

Natural fragrance, through the eyes of an alchemist, is a traditional method of extracting fragrance through distillation. Flowers and plants are cooked until they release their very essence, and then are condensed to recapture their complex chemical make-up. During this process the resulting concentrate often contains constituents that are not found in the original plant material. They are used whole, never isolated, and are combined with other essential oils to create complex blends designed for specific purposes, working simultaneously on multiple levels, physical, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual.

Introducing seasonal blends, Salamander Spa currently offers an energizing spring/summer treatment enhanced by bamboo. This 80 minute treatment follows an optional (add on) visit to the Moroccan-inspired Rasul chamber, where organic mud is self-applied as steam heat transports minerals in the mud, releasing toxins and calming the nervous system. A gentle skin exfoliation with a blend of essential oils designed specifically to improve circulation and tone muscles, an invigorating mask, emollient facial, and nourishing scalp treatment prepare you for a full-body massage with heated bamboo sticks.

Why bamboo? Scholes explains: “It is a very strong wood with a very smooth and deep satisfying feel that represents quick growth, with room on the inside to expand while feeling supported.” And indeed he found it growing around Middleburg.

Anointed by oil that helps release frustrations and tension while balancing the emotions, you’re ready for the races.

Contact: 540-326-4045

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