I arrived at Cavallo Point – a decommissioned army post turned luxury inn in Sausalito on the outskirts of San Francisco – a little worse for wear, having strained my back. A seven-hour flight from the east coast and lugging suitcases hadn’t helped, so my first port of call was this healing arts centre and state-of-the-art spa.
The Cavallo spa is all about top-to-toe wellness, whether through acupuncture, energy work (a new take on Reiki to relieve stress) or meeting with herbalists who create bespoke “healing garden” planters ($160 for 60 minutes). Also on the treatment menu are nutrition counselling; shamanic journeys that involve Native American processes of soul retrieval and illumination ($250 for 90 minutes); and sessions with hypnotherapists who can tackle everything from addiction to weight control ($225 for 90 minutes).
I hobbled across the sprawling lawn and was greeted by Shaw Coté, the hotel’s treatment manager, who took me in hand. After a leisurely soak in the whirlpool to loosen everything up, I was whisked into a treatment room for an organic massage ($165 for 60 minutes; $320 for two hours). I lay out on the bed, and what followed was a tough but effective combination of Swedish and deep-tissue techniques with Thai stretches thrown in for good measure. Eucalyptus aromatherapy oil ($21 for 8oz) with a hint of arnica sent me off into as much of a reverie as is possible when your limbs and lower quadrilateral muscles are being steadily pummelled, kneaded and pulled.
Ultimately, time and continual TLC will heal my back. But that massage – and sipping a frozen Mayan cacao concoction by the meditation pool – did enable me to stand fully upright again, and even enjoy my time in the foggy City by the Bay.
Suffering from stiff muscles on the other side of the Atlantic? This massage/acupuncture technique at London spa KX might be the one for you. Or for something more 360 degree, go all-out with a Bodhimaya retreat in the depths of Provence.