The Huntington Spa - Review
The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, CA
by Sylvie Greil
The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is hidden away in a posh, very green part of Pasadena, Calif., and on the lovely drive there, past elegant mansions and manicured lawns, your mind already begins to let go off the stresses of living in urban L.A. The hotel has been an area landmark since 1907, appreciated for its historic elegance with turn-of-the-century details like decadent chandeliers and a charming atmosphere of "the good old days." We were excited to try an Ayurvedic treatment at a classic, all-American property, and we were in for a treat!
The Spa has been completely renovated and refurbished, featuring the Chuan Body + Soul element with treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The 11,000-square-foot spa has a state-of-the-art fitness center and thirteen treatment rooms, including a couples room. It offers massages, facials and body treatments, but also TCM options such as acupuncture, Ho Guan (cupping), and ear seeds. These ancient practices promote healing and well-being based on manipulating the body's chi (or Qi), sometimes referred to as life force, through channels called meridians.
The time we went was well before this new addition, and the Eastern-inspired treatment we were excited to try was the Nirvana package, which combines Shirodhara with a cleansing Bindi treatment. It begins with a proper Ayurvedic consultation. According to the Ayurvedic model, people fit into one of three body types—doshas—or combinations thereof: the airy Vata, the fiery Pitta and the very rooted Kapha. A questionnaire and chat with your therapist will reveal your type, based on questions such as whether your skin is dry or oily, whether your appetite is fierce or small, whether you’re prone to anxiety and how easily you digest your food. Based on your dosha, the therapist will use a special oil for your treatment, such as a rose-based one to cool the active, heated Pitta.
Next you’re in for 100 deeply relaxing minutes, which seemingly morph into hours, as you lose all sense of time. The treatment begins with deep-body cleansing with Bindi paste, followed by Shirodhara, an ancient technique where warmed oil is poured on your forehead (more precisely the "Ajana," or third-eye chakra) in a steady stream. This method directly works on the cerebral system for such profound relaxation, you almost feel as though you've entered a trance. Nirvana also incorporates massage, notably of your scalp.
Afterward, the therapist will help peel you off your table—you might feel like you’re coming back from another world and may be a bit disoriented in the most delicious way. She’ll tuck you into a warm robe and help you transition back to reality with a cup of Pitta, Vata or Kapha tea. A glance in the mirror will reveal a younger, smoother version of yourself, minus a big frown and those nagging little vertical lines between the eyebrows. They were gone!
This treatment works wonders for your looks and state-of-mind. Even though you may not have felt particularly stressed going in, you'll experience a significant difference from your habitual way of experiencing yourself and your body. We were hooked, and the only concrete thought before we popped back into our car to drive back to the city was: “sign us up for the spa membership.”
(Updated: 06/29/11 CT)