A Massage to Melt For: Pelican Hill Spa’s New Collection

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The women’s aqua colonnade at The Spa at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast
— Photo courtesy Pelican Hill Resort

In my 55 years as a journalist, I can honestly say this was the most difficult feature I’ve ever written.

Based on this experience, I offer the following advice to aspiring journalists: Never sit down to write immediately after receiving an incredibly relaxing and sleep-inducing massage.

And I know massages, having enjoyed every kind of massage imaginable, from Tahitian hot rocks to Thai back dances, from Nepalese bone breakers to Russian deep tissue manipulation (applied by a woman whom I think must’ve been a retired KGB enforcer).

Although, in this day and age, one needn’t jet off to far-flung, exotic destinations to receive a truly world class massage: It is found at The Spa at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast.

Spa Director Zully Cardona, a respected health-and-beauty-industry leader, recently revamped the resort’s Forbes five-star-rated spa menu to embrace “the most current ideas in wellness,” and blended quite a few suggestions from the Spa’s international customers that they felt would improve their spa experiences.”

Cardona introduced both the “Massage Therapy Collection” and the “Advanced Massage Therapy Collection,” each of the 11 massages being unique, and each massage application perfected by the Spa’s 35 therapists.

In all, The Spa has 80 on staff, including hair stylists, the spectrum of salon specialists, fitness and wellness experts.

A treatment room at The Spa at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast
— Photo courtesy Pelican Hill Resort

Fortunately, of all the writers at the “Indy,” I was most qualified to write about The Spa, in large part due to my advanced age, consistent aches and pains, and my oaken inflexibility.

Also, I thought of it first.

Out of the 11 in the collection, I chose the “Detox + Invigorate Massage.” I don’t drink nor take drugs, so what was I detoxing from? My masseuse, Anna, explained that our bodies create toxins merely through the process of living, and those toxins are filtered out of the skin; this massage selection provided the cleansing that I needed. At the same time, she explained, it cleanses the mind. Of course, having been a Coast Guardsman in my youth, I still require cleansing to this day.

The moment a guest walks into The Spa’s cavernous reception hall, the outside world ceases to exist. You sense the tranquility and relaxation that are sure to come.

Next step is saying goodbye to your street clothes and slipping into a robe that embraces you like a warm hug. Then a brief wait in the library-quiet men’s or women’s lounge until greeted by your masseuse.

When I first shook hands with Anna, I immediately knew that had my body been marble, it would’ve been sculpted into the fourth dimension.

She escorted me down muted halls to treatment room number seven (out of 22), my haven — and heaven — for the next 80 minutes. Anna slipped out of the room for a couple of minutes while I slipped out of the robe, then under the heated blankets. She returned and started the massage — and I slipped into a near coma.

She mixed essential oils of balsam, juniper and pine in her hands, held them beneath my nose and instructed that I take two deep breaths. Thus began 80-minutes of what The Spa’s brochure describes as a “swift and invigorating massage,” coupled with inhalation therapy.

The women’s aqua colonnade at The Spa at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast
— Photo courtesy Pelican Hill Resort

As if she had radar in her fingers and elbows, Anna found every knot that could tie up a muscle, and every trigger point that needed to be pulled. Yes, tough old sailor me had to ask her to lighten up just a bit. Fortunately, much of the massage consisted of the more traditional openhanded movement along the linear structure of the muscles, and that alone was reward for the momentary discomfort.

This treatment also featured reflexology on my feet. At first it was like tickling, so Anna adjusted the pressure, which obviated my natural reaction to kick out. After dodging my reflexive kicking, Anna wrapped each foot in a treated and heated cloth, and bagged them. When freed, my age-battered feet never looked more lovely.

This could become habit forming.

Indescribably soft music played unobtrusively in the background. It was so relaxing, I can’t understand how the musicians stayed awake to finish the tune. I know it helped lull me to sleep sporadically throughout the massage.

At the disappointing announcement that my massage was over, Anna left the room after having neatly laid out my robe on the table, and waited patiently outside while I foggily tried to remember where to put my arms.

My final recommendation: Make all calls and reservations well in advance because I guarantee that, for at least several hours after, your muscles will be too relaxed to even lift a finger.


For more information, visit pelicanhill.com/spa or call (855) 467-6800. 

Contact the Richard Simon at [email protected]

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