Chilling Out Sonoma Style

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

To escape the winter doldrums about a decade ago, Chuck and I headed to the California wine country of Napa and Sonoma. Who needed an excuse to drink wine, eat great food and chill out beneath the California sun?

The area is beautiful, and one winery after the other welcomes patrons into their lobbies featuring a wonderland of products and decorative items for the home covered in grapes. Grape napkins, grape dish towels, grape salt and pepper shakers, grape pillowcases, grape pottery, grape toilet paper – you get the picture. After a dozen wineries, this got old and expensive! They used to let you sample the wine for free, now they all charge to taste the wine. So we decided to try something different the next day…okay, I decided. Chuck wants you to know he had nothing to do with this decision.

We all know that this part of the country is known for its spas and relaxation, so I checked out the local facilities and pondered which one to sign us up for. I love massages, and Chuck had never had one so I thought I’d surprise him with this treat.

Something different than what we have at home in Myrtle Beach was the goal of this mission. The yellow pages and visitor guides were full of choices, but I knew I would never want to put my private parts in mud, so that was out of the question. I once had a mud-pack facial and that was gross enough!

Continuing to peruse the ads, I saw something that sounded very interesting. It was an “enzyme bath” guaranteed to relieve stress, great for allergy sufferers, therapeutic to the core. Perfect! It included a thirty-minute hot cleansing tea served outside in a private tea garden, thirty-minutes in the enzyme tub, and a one-hour massage. It sounded good to me for $175 each plus tip, and we ladies know that massages aren’t cheap, so plus the tea and the bath I figured this was a deal. Book it, I did!

In order to surprise Chuck, I never told him where we were going or what we were about to do, but when we pulled up our rental car in front of “Sensuous Sonoma Spa” he did not know what to expect. Frankly, I did not either!

We were welcomed by a very ethereal woman who looked like I did in the sixties – love, peace, long hair, no make-up, but not wearing bell-bottoms. Instead she was barefooted wearing an oriental muumuu and probably had her yoga attire beneath it. She looked somewhat anorexic to me. You know the type I’m talking about. To top it all off, her name was Ariel.

Well, our new best friend Ariel, escorted us to an area behind a big white sheet where she told us to undress and change into these big fluffy white robes. They were so fluffy that we looked twice our size, kind of like Mr. and Mrs. Frosty the Snowman. Chuck said, “Honey, you’ve got to be kidding!” I explained it was something different for us, opening new doors, reaching out to a new horizon, a new adventure! Then he burst out laughing. Actually so did I. We looked hideous.

We were then directed to the Garden of Eden, oops that was supposed to be the garden of relaxation, and told to relax in each others arms as we awaited our purifying tea. The minute she left us alone, we cracked up again, almost scared of what would happen next.

The tea arrived looking much like the tea served in a Chinese restaurant, but this contained all sorts of herbs, spices, lemongrass and even some sort of sticks that were suppose to make us relax and purify. Not only did it look bad, it smelled bad and tasted worse. Heck, the last time I had tea at least the tea was good, and the scones were even better!

Thirty minutes later, we were directed to the bathroom to “purge the impurities from our bodies.” That was followed by the famous enzyme bath. Here the room was very steamy and hot with two huge tubs that looked like horse feeding stalls filled with cedar type chips, similar to what you put in a hamster cage. Ariel asked us to disrobe as she took a big shovel and scooped down deep into each tub to carve out a space for us to lie down. Chuck had trouble taking off his robe as he is rather shy, but he later said he had not been naked in front of another woman in over twenty years. But as we lay side by side in our enzyme tubs she came back with the shovel and covered us up to our necks with the cedar chips and then quietly left the room.

Well, as you can imagine all we could do was laugh. We laughed so much, we cried. We just knew we must be on “Candid Camera.” We surely have been duped because no one could possibly enjoy this. It wasn’t even comfortable. And I thought having mud on my your “you know what” would be yucky. Well, chips of cedar digging into your back, butt and other areas that God never meant for cedar to seep into ain’t no fun either. However, we laughed and talked and laughed some more even though we were told to be quiet and relax.

When bath time was over, Ariel returned and asked us to stand up. We both looked like Chia-Pets from Mongolia with cedar chips clinging to every inch of our bodies. We could not contain our laughter as Ariel preceded to hose us off with a big green garden hose. Chuck was mortified, while I totally lost all self-control laughing harder than I had in all my life.

Finally, we were taken to separate rooms for our deep tissue massages. This part I enjoyed. I had never had a male masseuse before, so it was a little nerve racking, but I was exhausted from all the hysterical laughter, and needed the break. As for my precious husband, he was quick to tell me after the ordeal was over that he wanted me to be the only woman who ever touches his body like that again. He hated it, and said it was too invasive. (Even if he was lying, that was so sweet, wasn’t it?)

So our big, supposed-to-be-romantic-and-relaxing afternoon was a total bust. Umm, maybe not a total waste, after all we got the best laughs of our married life so far, and a great true tale to tell our friends and family, including all of you Sasee readers, about our very memorable, not so Sensuous Sonoma Spa experience.

About this writer

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatar Close