For 13 years, I have been a member and supporter of the International Spa Association (ISPA) (it is, after all, where I met my husband). I was thrilled to be invited to attend the East Coast ISPA Media Event (I’m late to the party – this week’s was ISPA’s 22nd – but who’s counting?). This annual event showcases some of the most innovative brands and trends in the spa industry.
I looked forward to the train ride (DC-NYC) all morning. The Quiet Car is a luxury to me – one of the few public areas where silence reigns. The silence and the rhythm of the train relaxes me, quiets my mind.
I was still thinking about that when I walked into Gotham Hall and started making my way through the crowd. Somehow the Universe (or was it Lynne McNees?) guided me to the SolTec Lounge, where I experienced something strangely similar yet much more luxurious than the Amtrak Quiet Car. It is a lounge chair like many found in spas – except it is not. The fiber glass base looks like it belongs in a space ship. The feel of the vinyl is like velvet. The curvature of the chair fits my body perfectly. Nestled in the chair, I happily accepted earphones, and was told to close my eyes and let go of my thoughts, let go of my stress. As if (do you know me?). My thoughts stayed with me, but I could see how the vibrations (train, anyone?), synchronized to the monotonous and repetitive music that layers water sounds, chants, and a beat, could indeed help my brain chill out. Dan Cohen, the founder and neurologist, chuckled knowingly when I told him I wanted one in my home. I just hope a DC-area spa invests in these very promptly.
Still thinking about the need for relaxation, for quiet, and how our brains are so wired that we need assistance (like that provided by the SolTec Lounge) to disconnect, I found myself in the Mandarin Oriental area. Osa Mallo, the Spa Director of Mandarin Oriental Miami invited me to take a Digital Wellness Health Quiz. A what? For the first time in my life, I got an F. Apparently, I am too plugged in and need to bring mindfulness to my technology use. She immediately made me feel better – “you are not the only one with a score above 10,” she said with kindness. This is why the Mandarin Oriental is launching their Digital Wellness Consultations and Digital Wellness Detox Treatments. Guests are asked to surrender their phones as they walk into the spa (Osa smiles at the look of panic in my eyes as she says this). They are invited to enjoy digital-free activities in the lounge, such as reading and coloring. Their phones are cleaned while the guest enjoys their spa treatment. I kind of want to try this, and I kind of don’t.
As I walk from Gotham Hall back to Penn Station, to take the train back to DC, once again looking forward to the Quiet Car, I wonder about the duality of my wishes and expectations. How do I combine my desire for constant connection and my fantasy of spending three hours in the SolTec Lounge? How do I reconcile my love of Botox and my attraction to the Digital Detox?
Pictured here with Lynne McNess (President of ISPA)