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Escape summer at National Harbor with Gaylord Relache Spa botanical treatments

Relache Spa at Gaylord National
Relache Spa at Gaylord National
Gaylord National

Relache Spa at Gaylord National


Drenched in wild ginger, a signature scent of the Relache Spa at Gaylord National Resort, my voyage to National Harbor was a refreshing escape from summer heat. With a new menu of botanical treatments inspired by the resort’s atrium garden, weatherproof, this is Washington’s best bargain.

Check in Monday through Thursday and the Spa Escape package costs $215, including two treatments and lunch with wine in the spa.

For the ultimate summer pampering, three botanical treatments are in the $325 package Monday-Thursday; Friday through Sunday the cost is $340. Plus a 20% gratuity for your therapist. Summer seasonal treatments are available daily through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

Located above the hotel reception area, the Relache Spa is a luxurious oasis. Views of the Potomac are calming as you relax in the lounge and sip herbal tea. Arrive early to detox in the sauna and soak in the whirlpool just outside the locker room. Settle into a posh robe and forget your daily stress.

The Relache Spa at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center caters to a diverse crowd (minimum age 18) with 11 treatment rooms. The spa's name expresses its philosophy: Relache means “let go” or “take a breather” in French. The menu of massages, body treatments, facials, and salon services features top-quality skincare products like Eminence, HydroPeptide, Jane Iredale, Jan Marini, and Kneipp European bath salts.

New this summer, hydrating botanical treatments add to your glow. Available a la carte, Green Tea and Lemongrass offerings include a body scrub, facial, and pedicure. And there’s an 80-minute Relache signature botanical facial that increases circulation and firms your skin ($210 Monday-Thursday, $220 Friday-Sunday).

To understand these natural therapeutic qualities, I selected the Relache Botanical Body Ritual, a 105-minute combination of body exfoliation and scrub, scalp massage, wrap, and full-body massage ($290 Monday-Thursday, $300 Friday-Sunday).

In the soothing hands of Gulcin Johnson, stress melts away. A seasoned professional, Johnson has worked at Gaylord several years, and clearly enjoys her work. First, we discussed scent for the massage oil. Joining in the farm-to-spa movement, Gaylord hotels partnered with Body Bliss to develop custom aromatherapy blends that incorporate indigenous plants from each of its four regions. Here in the mid-Atlantic, the grounding scent of wild ginger was my choice.

Other signature scents use lavender, blue sage, and citrus magnolia. Adding a touch of echinacea to the blend gave support to my immune system, and wintergreen soothed muscles and joints.

Getting to National Harbor without a car, I rode Metro to Alexandria where an ExecuCar whisked me over the Wilson bridge and into the hotel in less time than it takes to park at the sprawling riverfront resort. Other options include Metrobus from the Green line station at Branch Avenue, renting a bike at Alexandria, and water taxi from Old Town.

Spending a day at National Harbor, you can ride the new Ferris Wheel, shop, go boating, and stay for dinner or lunch. The spa becomes your base, with full amenities in the spacious locker rooms.

The spa at Gaylord National Harbor brings natural healing to a new level.

Reservations: 301/965-4400 or visit