I know that “going to the spa” is something people do because I’ve seen “Real Housewives” and “Sex in the City.” But still, the concept remains foreign to me. Sure, I’ve had a few massages, but the last place I went was bordered by a Thai restaurant and a karate dojo. Not exactly the preferred environment.
My only goal for the weekend is to relax. I invite my best friend, Karla, for a girls’ weekend at the new Mirbeau Inn & Spa that just opened in Plymouth — far enough south of the city that it feels like we’re getting away, but without the hassle of flying anywhere.
Caught up in the fantasy of spa treatments and resorts, I book a pair of massages and pedicures for the two of us. This is how the other half lives.
When we arrive at Mirbeau, a concierge seems surprised when we tell him we’re here to check in. “Finally,” he says. Things have been slow. He’s eager and enthusiastic. He offers us each a cookie. It’s clear they haven’t been that busy in the few weeks since they opened in June. But business is quickly picking up — and for good reason.
We’re led to our room, a plush, elegant hideout with two queen beds awash in purple. “This is the purple room,” the concierge tells us. He’s not kidding.
Purple damask coverlets. Purple suede headboards framed in the same purple toile that’s used for the curtains and dust ruffle. Purple paisley sitting chairs. Faux exposed beams punctuate the purple ceiling. It’s a lot of purple, but it works.
The bathroom has a claw-footed soaker tub in addition to a stand-up shower. The palette here is white, grey, and black. It’s simple, elegant, and completely unfussy.
A juliet balcony flanked by purple and beige toile curtains overlooks the lily ponds below. A trio of chocolates sits on the bedside table. We bid the concierge adieu and wrap ourselves in the white terry cloth robes we find in the closet.
The bed is incredible. The mattresses — which were custom made for the hotel — are firm at their base with a forgiving top. A lush comforter brings it all together. I wrap myself in the covers, my head cradled in a sea of pillows. It’s like being inside a marshmallow. The relaxation has begun.
The newest Mirbeau location (there’s another in Skaneateles, N.Y.) sits across from The Pinehills Village Green and Shops. Designed by David Bois and Sarah Mobraten of Boston-based architectural firm Arrowstreet, the 50-room hotel was inspired by Monet’s French country house in Giverny, complete with gardens, lily ponds, and even a footbridge (though, while cute, is jarring in bright green against the otherwise natural and muted landscape). White hydrangeas, purple butterfly bushes, daisies, and coneflowers dot the grounds. The interiors, which include custom furniture and fabrics throughout, were designed by Linda Dower (she co-owns the hotel with husband Gary) and Westley Spruill of Boston-based Deeson Design.
The highlight of the weekend, of course, is the spa.
Before our massages, we retreat to the outdoor “aqua terrace,” which is open year-round, and sink into the heated whirlpool. We soak up the sun and sip cocktails while we wait.
“This doesn’t suck,” Karla says.
There is also the indoor resting area, where guests can recline in a lounge chair, dip their feet into a heated massage pool, or get cozy by the fireplace.
The 50-minute Mirbeau “signature massage” is wonderful — just the right pressure with soothing music that’s easy to ignore. I’m given my choice of oils: Classically Calming, which combines sandalwood, lime, ginger, and green tea; or Energizing, a blend of rosemary, mint, and blood orange. The two scents, which are all-natural and designed by Dower, are repeated throughout the hotel and spa in their lotions, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Later, when I shower in the fanciest locker room I’ve ever seen, I use the shampoo and become obsessed. I still can’t stop thinking about how amazing and soft the shampoo made my hair feel.
Another highlight is the eucalyptus-infused steam room. The scent is both calming and invigorating. The room would benefit from a slanted ceiling, though. The water condenses high above and rains down on us in thick, fat drops.
I begin to wonder what a $75 pedicure will be like. Will someone feed me pastries while someone else massages my feet? Will I be fanned with a palm frond? I need to find out.
We sit in heated massage chairs while technicians clean, scrub, lotion, and polish our feet. They pay extra attention to massaging our calves. I expected there to be a paraffin dip included at this price, but that’s extra. Still, the paint lasts for weeks and the extra long massage is worth it.
Mirbeau also offers a fitness center with yoga, cycling, and pilates classes, a weight room, nutritional consultations, and a salon.
There are two restaurants at Mirbeau, both under the helm of executive chef Stephen Coe. Henri-Marie offers elegant fine dining, and then there’s the more casual Bistro & Wine Bar, where we opt to sit on the deck overlooking the pond. There’s a steady, rhythmic croaking from the frogs in that pond through our meal and well into the night. “Frog legs will be on the menu tomorrow,” the manager jokes.
He tells us that at the original Mirbeau location in upstate New York, guests often ask that the “wildlife sountrack” be lowered. Not possible.
A tarte flambe — the French version of a pizzetta — is light and crispy, with mushrooms, cheese, and peppery arugula. An arugula and burrata salad is nothing special, but a shaved celery salad with medjool dates, candied walnuts, and Gorgonzola is refreshing and satisfying.
We opt to split the surf and turf for dinner and expect the waiter to communicate this to the kitchen, anticipating a dish divided between two plates. Instead, we got one entree and an extra plate, which resembled a soap dish, “for sharing.”
Luckily, the main course is delicious. A juicy cut of beef, seared to medium, and tender boiled lobster sit in a pool of pesto and pommes puree. Grilled asparagus spears punctuate the dish.
Elsewhere on the menu, which we’re told is expected to rotate monthly, there’s bouillabaisse, tuna crudo, and duck confit mac and cheese.
A featured recipe for gnocchi is a tease, since there’s no actual gnocchi to be ordered. Our waiter says we could make it at home if we wanted, though.
After dinner we retreat back to our room, enticed more by the plush covers of our beds than a nightcap in the brightly lighted bar and sitting room (called “the Library”).
For breakfast, we order a pair of omelets and eat them in bed, wrapped again in the plush robes we just can’t get enough of.
I don’t want to leave. I could easily sink back into the bed or wander over to the Aqua Terrace — anything to stay in this relaxed state. But the real world beckons.
Merci, Mirbeau, you’ve been good to us.Nicole Cammorata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nicolecammorata.