June 09 2010
I’m too impatient to really enjoy massages and pampering – I usually spend the hour that I’m prone mentally updating my to-do lists. But the last time I was in Sonoma, a friend persuaded me to book an appointment at Osmosis Day Spa, a ramshackle set-up in rural, hippie-ish Freestone (the bakery across the road grows its vegetables and herbs in a garden out back). It’s owned by Michael Stusser, who imported his signature Cedar Enzyme treatment from Japan after it cured his sciatica; this is still the only place to try it stateside.
I was bemused when I saw the room: a giant coffin-like wooden bath filled with steaming cedar mulch into which the attendant gestured I clamber, stark naked. Lying there on the wet, hot mattress-like pile, she then pushed more of the mulch over me until I was entombed except for my head. For 20 minutes I lay there as she mopped my brow and carefully fed me water. It was a disconcerting, reinvigorating experience, as the deep heat – caused by purely a chemical reaction between special plant enzymes and the cedar wood and rice bran – penetrated every muscle in my body. Lying there was like being suspended in a womb-like sauna.
It was only after getting out that I felt the full impact, though – brushed down in the garden and showered, she led me to the resting room where I lay in darkness, sounds and sights muffled, to let my body stabilise. I felt as invigorated as if I’d had a session at the gym followed by a two-hour nap. And I didn’t make a mental to-do list once.
$85 for one person, $150 for two.