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Thursday
Feb232012

Finding Wellness at Old Edwards Inn and Spa — Fit!

To most, a hotel is just a place to stow your bags and sleep while visiting a destination. But for me, the hotel is often my destination.

Which leads me to this wellness "hit" — the Old Edwards Inn and Spa (OEI) in Highlands, NC. From the glass of complimentary champagne that greets you upon arrival to the "Butler's Pantry," which is stocked with complimentary Dove ice cream bars, soda, water and fruit for guests, OEI is my pick for an easy weekend getaway from Atlanta (the drive is less than two hours).

I drove up one dreary Saturday morning, knowing that the chilly winter weather would only make snuggling up at the inn for 24 hours that much more enjoyable. The relaxation begins as soon as you park your car in one of the valet spots out front — the staff takes care of everything from that point on. I received my bubbly, was given a tour of the inn and shown to my room, which was a one-bedroom suite (beautiful, but too much space for one person). 

Around 4 p.m., I ventured down to the spa, where I had a 5 p.m. appointment for a massage. I wasn't surprised to find that this area of the inn was amazing — after all, it was voted the number one spa in North America by Conde Nast Traveler's readers in 2010. Once you go beyond the reception/retail shop, you travel down a warm wood hallway to the spa cafe area, which includes several tables and chairs, oversize armchairs and a glowing fireplace.

After securing my things in the locker room and changing into my bikini, I grabbed a chilled washcloth from the ice-filled basin outside of the steam room and went inside for about 10 minutes to warm up. But the armchairs by the fire were calling my name, so I dried off and donned my spa uniform — a snuggly robe and sandals.

Although the spa cafe was technically closed, the staff gladly brought me a cup of tea, which was some of the best cinnamon tea I've ever had (and purchased a box before I left). While sitting by the fire, I noticed the quiet room area that housed even-more-comfy-looking chaise lounges. So, I was lured into the next room where I finished my tea while snuggled up under a chenille blanket, gazing out the huge picture windows at the cold blue sky.

My masseuse, Kim, came to get me at 5 p.m. and took me back to the treatment room. I opted for a 50-minute Classic massage, and Kim spent the time combining stretches and massage to relax my tight muscles. It was quite enjoyable, but I have to admit that I paid the high fee primarily to use the rest of the spa amenities, since I can get an amazing massage at a place in Smyrna for half the price I paid (stay tuned for more about my favorite masseuse in a later blog). Honestly, I wished that I could have spent more time just lounging in the relaxation area — loved the blankets and chaise lounges! — but the spa was closing.

I headed down to Madison's, OEI's primary restaurant, to see if I could bump up my dinner reservation, as my afternoon snack had long-since disappeared, and was delighted to be invited to sit down, even though I was in casual workout clothes. As always, each bite of food made my mouth smile. And be prepared, because there's no shortage of it. Before your order even comes out, you receive homemade pimento cheese and buttermilk crackers, along with a selection of breads and corn muffins. I ordered a mushroom ravioli dish and finished up with a chocolate soufflé. Oh, and don't forget the homemade pistachio macaroon that greeted me just before the check. After a bath in the huge soaking tub with the soaking salts that are provided to guests and a glass of wine, I was done.

The next morning, I woke up to a foggy wonderland. After helping myself to hot tea and a piece of fruit from the Butler's Pantry, I went to check out the fitness center, which is any fitness instructor's dream. We're talking two-story, has it's own aerobics/spin room plus any kind of weight and card equipment you could desire amazing. I got my fitness on and then went down the street to Buck's Coffee Shop for a breakfast bite, since I had missed the cutoff for breakfast at Madison's (10 a.m.).

After cleaning up, it was time to make my way back down the mountain, but not before the OEI staff provided me with a departure goodie bag that included bottled water and fruit. I will admit that a visit to OEI is a splurge, but splurging every now and then is a necessary part of my wellness routine.

Till next Tuesday, folks — have a FWABulous week!

P.S. Now put images with what you've just read by visiting my Facebook photo gallery from this trip here.

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