Last fall, while most of us were still doing jigsaw puzzles and perfecting our sourdough starter, the Mayflower Inn & Spa was undergoing a facelift. The Washington, Conn., property, which began life as part of a boy’s prep school called The Gunnery, opened as an inn in 1920. One hundred years later, it was time for a major refresh. They closed for three months during the pandemic and reemerged with a dramatic redesign, a new chef-in-residence, and a reinvented spa.
“We like to partner with experts in the field,” says director of rooms Mohit Girdhar. To that end, the 35-room inn, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, teamed up with hotshot New York-based interior designer Celerie Kemble to give the inn a fresh look (bold wallpaper and textural elements). They’re working with Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield (The Breslin and Spotted Pig) to zhoosh up the menu in the Garden Room and the Tap Room, and they partnered with THE WELL, a New York-based wellness brand, to revamp their wellness offerings.
If that sounds like a lot of New York influence for a property set in the Connecticut countryside, in a town with a population of around 3,500, well, that’s the idea. Guests can enjoy the best of the big city without the bustle, in a rural, woodsy retreat in Litchfield County, about two hours from Boston and NYC. Its 58 acres include landscaped gardens, a maze, hiking trails, a pool, and a pond (complete with a waterside hammock and a cherry red canoe). On a recent weekday in April, the place was lively; a family played bocce on the lawn, while couples wearing bathrobes wandered past, heading to their spa appointments. Guests sipped beverages in Adirondack chairs situated to take advantage of spring sunshine. “I think the smaller hotels and resorts are really having a moment,” Girdhar says. People are eager to escape from home but perhaps not yet ready to hop on a plane or stay at a huge, big-city hotel, he notes.
All of this is to share what else you can expect at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, in case some in your party aren’t keen spa-goers. If you do love all things spa, this one offers some intriguing options. Ever tried forest bathing? Gong baths? They’re on the menu here. While some hotel spas are all about pampering, THE WELL at Mayflower Inn is focused on holistic health and wellness. The 20,000-square-foot spa complex comprises an indoor pool, a traditional hammam with light therapy, and a new thermal pool, surrounded by 400 plants that add a calm, greenhouse feel and help purify the air. The relaxation room sports a dining room table that will eventually be the site for chef’s table-at-the-spa dining. Shower and locker room amenities (it’s always fun to try these lotions and potions) are made by clean beauty pioneer Beautycounter. The nail studio features products by Sundays, a non-toxic brand. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center.
Before you enter the spa — before you even land in Connecticut — you may choose to video chat with a wellness counselor to discuss your health and wellness concerns, and services that will address those issues. For example, a health coach may work with an acupuncturist and a massage therapist to tailor a treatment just for you, creating an integrative experience.
Of course, facials are customized to one’s skin type, and the array of richly-moisturizing body treatments sound good enough to eat: The Milk, Lavender & Honey body treatment uses ingredients from local farms, while the Garden Scrub incorporates fresh herbs from the chef’s own garden at the inn.
But to experience the best of this alluring retreat, consider something less expected, like the Forest Craniosacral massage. Under a canopy of trees, “the therapist taps into the rhythm of the cerebral spinal fluid, gently cradling and manipulating the head and lower back,” says Vivianne Garcia Tuñón, vice president of development at THE WELL. While other spas may offer forest bathing, this one offers an after-dark version. “Nighttime forest bathing plays with the elements of nature that happen at night — the sounds, scenes, aromas, and textures,” Garcia Tuñón explains. In addition, the path is illuminated by a beautiful trail of candles.
Meanwhile, the twice-monthly Gong Bath takes place on the nights of the full moon and new moon, utilizing meditation, vibration, sound, and energy to calm the body at a cellular level, she explains. “This concept dates back to ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures.”
It’s no surprise that some of the most intriguing options at THE WELL at Mayflower Inn take place outdoors. In a place like this, it’s easy to embrace the healing power of Mother Nature, and release your Inner Goddess — especially if someone is gently embracing your cranium!
Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, 118 Woodbury Road, Washington, Conn.; 860-868-9466; www.aubergeresorts.com/mayflower. Rates from $859.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org