Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Burke Williams Spa: At Least the Water Tastes Good

"Most people like them, but massages aren't for everyone." She said as she handed me a cup of lemon and fruit-infused water.

I took the cup from her outstretched hand. "Yeah, I guess not." I wanted to add something biting in response to her "most people" dig, but feared she might punish me with another tortuous 50-minutes of exceedingly unpleasant muscle rubbing.

"Be sure to drink lots of water today." She instructed, before turning to leave. "You'll need to flush out all the toxins through your urine."

I cringed at her use of the word "urine," but nodded agreeably. As soon as she left, I drained my small sippy cup and immediately refilled it. Toxins? What sort of witch craft were these Burke Williams people practicing? And how did any sane person find this sort of thing relaxing? I had spent the entire session either gritting my teeth when my masseuse stabbed her bony fingers into my back and neck, or gripping the table with ticklish discomfort when her touch was too light on my sensitive nerve endings. And that massage she gave my head? Horrific! My hair and scalp aren't the moistest of environments, but they certainly should not have been making those horrible scraping noises when she applied pressure!

Heading back to the women's spa area (with another cup of water), I couldn't help but feel out of place. The whole "spa" experience was a bit off-putting to me. Even though the massage had been a birthday present (3 years ago), I felt over-indulgent, self-conscious and slightly like I was being kept against my will in some sort of cult-like monastery. The over-sized robes, dark corners, dim lighting, and ugly burgundy color palate only further enhanced that illusion, and I was eager to change back into my jeans and t-shirt so I could get the heck out of there.

Except, I really wanted more of the fruit-infused water.

As I chugged more than my fair share of the quality H20 stand near the exit, I cursed myself for not bringing a water bottle with me so I could take some with me to continue the process of flushing out the evil "toxins." I would have certainly liked to pilfer some of the delectably refreshing frozen lemonade shooters that were available earlier that morning. (I'd drunk more than my fair share of those too...)

I took one last sip of the precious liquid, crushed the cup in my hand and tossed it in the garbage with finality. I knew I would not be back in the torture chamber any time soon. Massages aren't for everybody, but, thankfully, food and water are.


Heather said...

oh no! a bad massage?! I've had them before too - when I was in Morocco we stayed at this uber-ritzy hotel the night before flying out since it was near the airport. I was tense from backpacking for two weeks and wanted a massage so I booked one. it was HORRIBLE! she talked the whole time, making it hard for me to relax, and was just a bad masseuse - to much pressure, not enough, and then she asked me if I wanted my "front" massaged. um, no thanks. me and the girls are just fine. wtf?!?! it was awful. i'm all for different cultures and stuff, but that's just kinda weird. i've had good ones, though, too. there's this place in australia that does massages with water jets instead of people. it was amazing.

and yeah, i think the carrot emulsion would be tasty with pork chops! let me know how it goes!!

Esi said...

I have never really had a professional massage, but sorry yours was so bad! Which BW did you go to? I will make sure not to go to that one!

Diana H. said...

Heather - A frontal massage? I think not! I was a little nervous when my masseuse told me to flip over, but fortunately it was only so she could do the front of my legs and arms. That part actually wasn't so bad, but the rest was just not my cup of tea!

Esi - It was the Santa Monica location. I was told that it is nicer than the WeHo location, and everyone was very pleasant and friendly. I think it's just my own issue -- I don't really like to be touched!

Futile Sniffer said...

Aww, that's so sad that massages aren't for you! It sounds like your masseuse sucked though. Was it a deep tissue? Because those can sometimes be painful. I can't believe they said the word "urine," so cold and creepy!

One time I got a massage at Exhale and the masseuse had a jagged fingernail that occasionally felt like it was cutting into my back. I didn't know what to say. I should have said something, but I was too shy and embarrassed.

Kirby! said...

What a bummer! At least you didn't pay for it.

If you would want to give the whole spa thing another try in a less pretentious setting, you should go to the Burke Williams training center in Culver City. It's free (!) except for tip, and they do it in a big room that you share with other people, which I actually sort of prefer to a private room (which is a too intimate for me). I got a deluxe 80-minute facial there, and it was so awesome and relaxing-- they massaged my hands and feet and scalp, and you could choose your pressure level, so there's no danger of getting pummeled against your will. Plus, they're getting evaluated on their performance, so you could even argue that they put more thought into it than someone at the actual spa.

They also do manicures and stuff like that. Just thought I would pass along the tip!

Nicole said...

I went to the Sherman Oaks location w/a group of ladies pre-wedding and you know what? the massage was my least favorite part of the day! everything else (especially the water) was fantastic but from what I remember the massage was just 'eh' and I think someone else that was with us really disliked her massage! Weird.....