I seem to be on a bit of a spa kick lately, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to mention my visit a while back to the spa at the luxe Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. It was a month or two after the hotel was converted from the Mansion on Peachtree to a Mandarin Oriental-managed property. My visit did not disappoint, even given the fact that a lot of the staff was still being trained on Mandarin’s signature therapies and overall holistic spa approach.
Spa director Gretchen Vandegrift, who oversees the two-story, 15,000-square-foot facility, came out to introduce herself a few minutes after I checked in. I had just been presented with the welcoming oshibori towel (a warm scented cloth served on a bamboo tray that hints at Mandarin’s Asian influences), so I was already starting to feel pampered. Like a lot of spa directors these days, though, Vandegrift is quick to point out that spas today are more about helping people achieve overall health and wellness, not just being spoiled for a few hours. “Yes, some people need relaxing and pampering, but others need stimulation,” says Vandegrift. So the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta focuses on the individual in order to provide personalized treatments based on your body’s needs at that moment.
I opted for one of their unique “journeys,” an almost-two-hour-long treatment with a refreshing local twist. Called Peaches and Cream, it began with a skin-softening apricot kernel exfoliation, followed by a soothing massage using warm, aromatic cream and peach oil. It ended with a luxurious red clay scalp massage that practically lulled me to sleep. I was so zen, in fact, that instead of heading straight to the showers, I wrapped up in my plush robe and kicked back, mud-caked hair and all, on a chaise out on the outdoor terrace. When the Georgia sun got a little too much, I showered, got dressed, and took a quick spin through the spa boutique before heading back down to the valet (free with your spa visit, by the way) — and sadly, back to reality. Which, to me, is the worst part about a visit to any decent hotel spa. That the whole experience has to end at some point.
You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to take advantage of the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. In fact, spa director Gretchen Vandegrift says that 65 percent of their clientele is made up of locals. To learn more or book a treatment, visit www.mandarinoriental.com/atlanta/luxury-spa. The spa, which is spread out over two floors of the hotel, boasts 14 private treatment rooms (including a VIP couples suite with its own soaking tub and oversize shower), a nail salon, yoga studio, indoor lap pool, fully equipped fitness center, and more, so you can pretty much make an afternoon of it. Treatments, excluding manicures and pedicures, start at $135.