Ahhh… just what the Dr. Wilkinson ordered. Some adventuring in Calistoga without kids or husband or a car full of swim supplies and pillow pets in tow. Just me, a coffee, and my music on a long, beautiful stretch of road through wine country.
I went to meet an old and dear friend in Calistoga at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort. I’ve heard about this place, always with the same asterisked statement:
It’s relaxing and awesome*
*but no frills.
And it’s true, there are no frills. It’s not a Day Spa, it’s a Health Spa with a true old-school-no-nonsense approach that whips, rather than eases, your body into relaxation.
I am going to digress here for a sec but if you’ve ever had a Thai massage then you might have experienced the following progression. First surprise “WTF? Why is this person beating me up?” then fear “WTF, I can’t breath with this foot crushing my chest” and finally bliss “OMG, my body feels amazing.” Sitting in hot mud is a little like this progression.
When you walk into the treatment room at Dr. Wilkinson’s, you smell the hot mud even before you see the giant tile vat. Dare I say it had a slight manure smell to it? It’s volcanic ash, peat, and spring water… no manure here, just mud. Hot mud.
Once you ease your way into the mud, you’re then covered up to your chin and a facial mask is applied to your face. Then two cucumber slices are plopped onto your eyes and you sit there for 10ish minutes. It takes a minute to get used to the heat and weight of the mud on your chest (oh, and the smell) but once that subsides, it’s really very relaxing. You’re suspended in the mud, the heat all around you, and your skin feels slightly numb and tingly. So it’s like this: “WTF, that mud looks and smells like my garden” then “WTF, this is super hot and kinda stinky” then “OMG, it’s already time to get out? Can I stay in?”
I am REALLY mad at myself for not asking the very friendly spa technician to grab my camera and snap a shot of me stuck in the mud. Oh well, next time
You then rinse off all the mud and get into a bubbling mineral bath. But again, we’re not talking spa jets here. It was a tube and pump kinda thing that made some serious bubble action. I felt like what an egg must feel like in a pot of boiling water but without the heat.
I then hit up the steam room, standard stuff here, and then got wrapped in a light blanket to normalize my body temperature with a couple more slices of cool cucumber on my lids.
Going into this adventure, I was feeling a little rough from some wine tasting the day before. Coming out of this treatment, I felt refreshed and detoxified. Dr. Wilkinson’s gets my thumbs up.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort