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A spa weekend does wonders

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We’ve all heard the warnings regarding stress and its hormonal antagonist; cortisol, the fight-or-flight response, which has grabbed headlines as a major culprit in maladies such as depression, obesity and a suppressed immune system. Just browse the health aisle of your favorite books store, titles like Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes you Fat And Ruins Your Health, and the Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st-Century Stress Syndrome all support the message that stress is pervasive and dangerous to our health. What to do? If a major lifestyle changes is too daunting, consider a weekend at a wine country spa. No flying hassles, transit time is about an hour, and it just might be the necessary nudge toward the road to recovery.

Don’t let choosing the right spa add to your stress—we’ve highlighted a few options in different parts of the wine country. All guaranteed to buff and polish your inner and outer self.

The Carneros Inn (Carneros)

Tired souls and sore muscles can luxuriate in this country farmhouse-cum-sophisticated-sanctuary, under an hour’s drive from Marin. Spa goers are rewarded by the comfy yet chic white decor, tranquil vibe and handmade lotions and potions created especially for Carneros Inn. Feeling anti social? Opt for your treatment(s) in your private cottage. A hallmark of the design objective to blend not boast is the use of rustic materials such as corrugated metal roofs and fences, which not only reflect the agrarian environs, but also the beautiful glow of the sunset, notes Keith Rogal, the property’s founder. Each cottage is fronted by a welcoming porch along with generous, private outdoor spaces, further enhancing a sense of retreat.

Beyond the relaxation qualities of the property, the spa, directed by Jeannie Jarnot, is an integrated oasis. “We believe that to truly relax is to become at ease with your surroundings,” Jarnot says, “so whether you pick fresh lavender from your private garden or relax into a sun salutation in our new motion studio, we want you to be perfectly comfortable at all times. After a relaxing steam or sauna, guests can anticipate their upcoming treatment in stress-zapping cozy lounge chair, by the heated infinity pool, or out on the private sun-drenched slate deck overlooking the fields. The extensive treatment menu is broken down into categories; harvests, minerals, cellars, farms, flowers and creeks. This mélange of options translates into epidermal treats like orchard olive stone and honeydew exfoliation, goat butter massage and revitalizers such as the Carneros healing gem and stone massage. We like to use local ingredients, native to the Carneros region, such as goat butter, apricots and Chardonnay seed oil for most of our treatments and then blend in some exotic ingredients from faraway places, like Thai lemongrass, Japanese citrus and Moroccan mint.  I like to have fun and create treatments with ingredients that inspire, much like a chef or a cook.”

Spring ’07 marks the completion of phase two, which includes a general store, a lap pool lined with fully wired cabanas, Jacuzzi spa, kids pool, a 3,000-square-foot fitness center and a yoga studio. Presently there are 86 cottages and several homes composed of two master suites and plenty of entertaining space-available for a short or long-term stay.    carnerosinn.com, 707-299-4900

Spa du Soleil at Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford, CA)

Spa du Soleil, the “Spa of the Sun,” is a radiant, high-end spa escape. With spectacular panoramic valley views, the light-filled spa is an elegant relaxation retreat that can easily be enjoyed for hours on end. “Our guests are highly successful, sophisticated, well traveled and looking for a complete escape,” says spa director Peggy Francis. “They are here for excellent bodywork, tranquility, beauty and outstanding service.”

Three artfully landscaped outdoor pools, each fed by a natural on-site spring, allow guests to enjoy a cold, warm, or hot soak pre-and post-treatment while enjoying the valley views. Each of the eight treatment rooms in the 7,000-square-foot spa also has access to a private garden and soaking tub or outdoor shower. Groups or couples can also enjoy the spacious Melisse Suite which has a fireplace and an idyllic outdoor area with a heated pool.

The heart of the spa menu consists of the signature treatment categories, a series of therapies inspired by Napa Valley. The vineyard options call upon the antioxidant power of grapes with grapeseed oil used in all the treatments. The garden treatments use locally harvested herbs and flowers, as well as essential oils and aromatherapy. Featuring local organic olive oil, the grove treatments incorporate the moisturizing properties of olives, while the valley treatments draw on the healing muds and minerals for which the region was initially known to help renew, balance and detoxify the body. Seasonal offerings are equally inspired.

Deluxe accommodations at the 50-room hillside inn, magnificent award-winning dining options at the 20-year-old restaurant, a comprehensive 1,300-bottle wine list and an impeccable contemporary art collection found throughout the resort make a stay here an ideal option for cultured relaxation seekers. aubergedusoleil.com, 800.348.5406

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