Obvious proclamation of the day: Massages are wonderful. Any activity that allows you to both check out and have someone knead the kinks in your back into submission is alright in my book. I'd get one on a daily basis if I had the wherewithal — I guess I should have married a massage therapist (sorry, honey). So when I plan a spa outing, I want to get the most relaxation and tension relief as humanly possible. Enter Lush's new "The Planets" treatment — a four-hour total immersion into beauty transcendence.
Now, for as much as I love relaxing treatments, I also have a toddler's ability to sit still. That is to say, none. I'm fidgety and cannot turn my brain off for more than a 10-minute stretch here and there. So the idea of laying naked in a room with a stranger for four hours was not really what I had in mind on the relaxation front.
I arrived at the spa on Lexington Avenue in NYC (currently one of only two North American locations) and met my technician, Patty Stamm. In a soothing voice, she offered a patient explanation of the treatment that was about to unfold: a 20-minute consultation, a 90-minute massage, a 30-minute arm massage/palm reading, and an hour-long pampering facial. So technically the total treatment was three hours and 20 minutes, but it took me about 20 minutes to peel myself off the table and back into my clothes at the end, so I added that to my count.
According to Hannah Lammiman of the Lush Spa treatment development team, The Planets was a ritual four years in the making. "We were working on an idea that the body can store thoughts in the muscles," she says. "We started to link tension in the body to a client's thought patterns and realized that if the therapist worked on an area of tension and asked them to talk about the thought, the tension would release much more quickly."
For my consultation, I was asked to shuffle a deck of zodiac cards and then choose a card that resonated the most with my current state of mind. I picked up Mercury, which represented change. A little ambiguous, but I'll take it.
Patty — who currently is only one of two technicians trained to do this particular treatment — led me to a room that was softly lit by a star projector creating a swirling constellation on the ceiling. It reminded me of those little glow-in-the-dark stars we all used to stick above our beds when we were kids. Only this one was infinitely cooler — and more astronomically correct.
I was instructed to disrobe and lay down on the table. I rang the little bell by the bed to signal to Patty that I was ready to begin my treatment. It all felt very Downton Abbey — had Lady Mary been tripping on acid and staring serenely at a celestial ceiling.
Patty explained that she would be using one of Lush's signature massage bars to rub me down — this one was spherical and created exclusively for the Planets treatment. She also said that as she identified my areas of tension, she would talk to me about the significance of that tension; she encouraged me to open up and talk to her about it.
I won't lie — it's pretty awkward spilling your guts to a complete stranger who also happens to be massaging your naked thigh. The first tension area she encountered was strange: Patty spoke about what it signified (career drama, surprise surprise), and there was an uncomfortable silence on my end. She prompted me to talk about my feelings. After we got that initial weirdness out of the way, I let loose about the things in my life that were interfering with my being content (a.k.a., all of the things).
"We all have something on our minds or something we’re going through, whether big or small, but we may not have the time to stop and really reflect on it," explains Patty. "The Planets creates that time and space to sort through whatever it is that needs your attention." It's massage therapy in the truest sense.
I flipped over and we continued the ritual. The finishing touch was a very enjoyable head massage. Everyone, do your partner a favor and learn how to give a scalp massage — they are ridiculously pleasurable.
Next up: tea time. I put on a plush robe and slippers and sat down at a little table in the back of the room. Patty pulled out some proper English tea cups and we sipped the passionfruit and green tea brew together contentedly. I then submerged my hands in a wash basin containing an Intergalactic Bath Bomb; she poured water over it to bubble it up and release its peppermint and cedarwood perfume.
As she rubbed my hands with a tiny massage sphere, she explained the process of palm-reading. My curved Heart line told her that I was both intuitive and someone who expressed emotions easily — which definitely lines up with my zodiac sign, Cancer. My Head line was long, meaning I was someone who thought things through extensively before making a decision (guilty). My forked Life line indicated traveling to far-off places — which was creepy because I had just booked a flight to Iceland for an extended vacation. Nothing like a dead-on palm reading to make your spa treatment feel life-affirming.
Then it was on to my lifting facial. Unlike the rest of the treatment, this part was solely relaxation with no verbal interaction with my technician. At first it was nice to just shut down, but as previously mentioned, I'm impatient. By the time Patty was applying the Rose & Lemon Fresh Face Mask, I was feeling antsy. The audience participation portion of the treatment kept me engaged and relaxed, but the facial let my mind wander around aimlessly on its own. I could have done without that portion for that reason. I could, however, have gone for another scalp massage.
Post-facial it took me a good 15 to 20 minutes to remember how my legs worked and attempt to put clothes on. So basically my daily morning routine in college. I walked out feeling calm, serene...and REALLY hungry; four hours of intense relaxation will do that to a girl. Four hours of intense relaxation also costs a whopping $495, so it's not something you're going to indulge in monthly. But for those who can swing it and are in need of some hardcore chilling out, this might be beneficial. Just come prepared with an open mind — and expect to leave with a less cluttered one.