Revisiting my hometown is like spending time with an old friend- it brings back memories and creates new ones, all the while marveling at the latest changes. I grew up in North Carolina, which is now one of my favorite places to visit in part due to the burst of new restaurants, bars, museums and of course, southern charm. The pace is slow and friendly, and the air is clean- relaxation is paramount to my visits. This past trip included an experience I would gladly travel for again: an organic facial at the breathtaking Umstead Hotel and Spa. The spa itself has just undergone a comprehensive three month renovation, and I was amazed by the transformation. The 16,000 square feet of sprawling space spans two floors and takes its cue from nature, encouraging contemplation and relaxation. Natural elements of river rock, granite, bamboo, and glass have been incorporated into the updated design, which is fitting given the close proximity of the resort to the William B. Umstead State Park. During my spa experience, I fell in love with the textiles, locally sourced pottery and artwork which create the unique ambiance of the spa. The spa’s whirlpool is perfect for settling the mind and soul before or after a treatment. If the weather is warm, the quiet outdoor pool area is ideal for lounging and taking in the serene tree canopy and Carolina blue sky, which spa guests are privy to!
My sweet esthetician Verlinda took me back to an airy treatment room and explained that the organic facial uses only the best of the best natural lines, De La Terre Skincare. The line is 100% organic which means not one iota is synthetic, and everything is gluten-free and vegan as well. I could throw my worries of parabens, petrochemicals or mineral oils to the wind. An expert therapist with experience can analyze your skin within a minute or so, and tell you things (almost like palm-reading!) about your skin’s life that you thought were way in the past. After skillfully formulating a custom facial session tailored to my skin’s needs, Verlinda created a nurturing and holistic facial experience for me, after which not one clogged pore was visible, and refreshed skin made an appearance. She also made sure that my skin was well-protected at the end, using rich moisturizers and a natural sun-protectant which physically scatters harmful UV rays instead of relying on chemicals. The ambiance of the room hit the spot for me, with light woodsy fragrances and a touch of lavender and soft music massaging the ears. As a soft landing following the uber-relaxing and soothing facial, I settled into a plush lounger in the solarium, where I nibbled on fresh fruit and sipped artisan tea, nary a stress within miles.
The Umstead Hotel and Spa is by far one of the most spectacular and sophisticated properties in the region, and it’s no surprise that it is the state’s most highly rated hotel. With the Spa as it’s new triumph, it’s the place to stay for the discerning traveler. I can’t wait to return and experience the Spa’s specially-designed facilities for couples. The three dedicated treatment rooms are each outfitted with a private deep-soaking tub, how decadent!