Four days of a fully loaded, all the bells and whistles visit to Disney World can really take a toll on a not-as-young-as-I-used-to-be body. For those of us needing a little sprucing up, or just some quality “me time,” there are two locations of Senses, A Disney Spa.
As part of a media visit to get to know Disney’s Golden Oak luxury residential resort community, I was given a choice of add-on activities, including a spa treatment. Having Golden Oak’s uber concierge-style resident services team arrange for personal (as well as residential and resort) requests is just one of the many lovely perks of living large at Disney.
A Little Bit of Upstate New York In Florida
Although there are two locations of Senses, including one right next to where I was staying at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, I ordered up the Signature Revitalizing Blueberry Facial from the Senses Disney Spa menu at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort in Downtown Disney.
Since I live so close to Saratoga Springs, the upstate New York city whose Victorian-era wellness retreats inspired the Disney spa, I was curious to see how close it is to the original.
I was told that the darker color palette, with lots of deep blues and greens, alluded to Saratoga Spring’s equestrian heritage. Yet entering the spa, I was struck by the organic quality of the décor. The front desk was covered in a green onyx veneer, and backed by a wall with rustic wood and stone paneling. And as I climbed the stairs of the two-story building, I was encouraged to look for hummingbirds—a spa motif symbolizing strength and tranquility—amidst the twig and leaf rails.
Taking the Waters
My first stop on the spa journey was at an elixir station that reminded me of “taking the waters” in Saratoga Springs, NY. Luckily, it’s nothing like its inspiration.
As one of the few naturally carbonated springs in the country, Saratoga mineral water is reputed to have all kinds of medicinal benefits. Visitors who can stomach the sulfurous scent (smells like rotten eggs!) fill up water bottles at any of 17 taps throughout the city, many housed in elaborate Victorian architecture.
The Disney spa version features three much tastier elixirs (Relax is Strawberry, Renew is Pomegranate Limeade, and Imagine is Mango Tango.) Although I only tried the Renew elixir, I’m confident that all of the juice flavors are equally delicious.
The Water Cure
Given that Saratoga Spring’s popularity hinged on the purported benefits of its mineral waters, it’s no surprise that hydrotherapy became an important part of the “Queen of Spas” retreat menus.
Likewise at Senses, hydrotherapy plays an important role. I regretted not having more time to relax at the spa before my scheduled facial. The hot tub was so inviting, and even in passing, the scent of eucalyptus emanating from the steam room was already at work loosening up my asthmatic lungs. But it was the heated green tile lounger that caught my interest. It looked deceptively solid, but up close its warmth was soft and pliant, begging to be napped on.
And as if that isn’t enough H20 goodness, there’s the Saratoga Springs Hydrotherapy Treatment and Massage Experience that includes a warm stones massage and deep soak. Ahhh!
Blueberries for Sandra
Alas, my evening plans didn’t leave time for a nap. I went straight to the locker room where I was provided with a plush robe and sandals to wear during the blueberry facial, if I so chose. Concerned that my clothes would end up covered in blueberry stains, I gratefully wore the robe. But there was no need to worry.
The translucent potions used on my face relied on blueberry’s antioxidant qualities to soften skin, not its color. In any case, during the facial and massage I lay under a sheet while my robe hung on a warming rack.
At the end of the 80-minute treatment, I was a puddle of relaxed mush. And that’s before I nibbled on a fresh-made Mango Curry Antioxidant Jelly and trotted over to the Relaxation Chamber. Even with a refreshing snack of cucumber-infused water and mini healthy cupcakes, it’s a wonder I didn’t fall asleep right there on a leather lounger!
Renewed and Ready to Party
My only regret was that I didn’t book a longer spa package. The three-hour “Me Time” with bath, massage, facial, and pedicure was tempting. Or even better, the “Saratoga Springs Getaway,” a four-hour extravaganza that added a body wrap to the experience. Not to mention that with all the possible add-ons, you could literally spend the entire day at the spa. Imagine that!
Last stop was back at the locker room where showers and beauty supplies are kept on hand for freshening up before heading out.
I don’t know to what extent the Senses, A Disney Spa, resembles the 19th century wellness retreats of Saratoga Springs. Contrary to my kids’ beliefs, I haven’t been around that long. But I can say that after a couple of hours on the Journey of Renewal, I was more than ready to celebrate another magical night at Disney.
Sandra Foyt makes her home in New York and writes about family travel at AlbanyKid.com and all sorts of vacations at GetawayMavens.com. Disney Golden Oak hosted her stay.