July 7, 2005
Sweet Indulgence at Chocolate Spa
The Spa at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa., is every chocolate lover's fantasy. With bowls of silver-wrapped kisses (certified kosher) seemingly everywhere, and hot cocoa waiting by the fire, it may be the world's only spa that actually encourages guests to consume the stuff between treatments.
For the truly addicted, a menu of chocolate-themed services fulfill hedonistic dreams of being wrapped in melted chocolate, soaking in a tub of frothy chocolate ambrosia, playing in a chocolate mud bath and much more.
The town, dubbed "the Sweetest Place on Earth," was built around the eponymous chocolate factory, producers of certified kosher chocolate. The spa, which was designed by the award-winning TAG Galyean and in size from its original 17,000-square-feet in 2004, overlooks beautiful gardens and reflecting pools.
On a recent visit, I warmed up with the Chocolate Fondue Wrap (an hour for $105). Spa-goers are metaphorically "dipped" in a heavenly sauce, then wrapped up to rest like a chocolate bar.
I wasn't really smothered with melted chocolate but the experience came surprisingly close. In fact, the "fondue" spread on my skin smelled so good, I asked if I could taste it. My friendly female spa attendant warned me off. And a good thing, too. The fondue combines warmed dark Moor mud -- rich in organic minerals offering therapeutic benefits for muscles, joints and skin -- with the spa's proprietary scent, the "Essence of Cocoa." Together, the ingredients simulate the look, feel and aroma of melted milk chocolate.
Great spa treatments resemble a kind of gracefully choreographed performance, and this was no exception. When I entered the treatment room in my cushy spa robe, my attendant explained she would leave while I undressed and draped myself discretely. She quickly returned to exfoliate my skin with a dry body brush to promote circulation, then applied the chocolate mud from neck to toe and wrapped me in a lightweight thermal space blanket -- just like the silver wrapper of a Hershey's bar. She left me to "bake" in the light of chocolate-scented candles and the sound of soothing recorded classical music.
She washed off the "chocolate" with a soothing, multiheaded Vichy Shower, which conveniently swung over the treatment table.
As an encore, she applied a layer of the spa's cocoa body moisturizer. That left me inhaling the faint smell of chocolate the rest of the day. Armed with the Hershey spa logo skin brush as a souvenir, my skin felt remarkably soft and my muscles and mind relaxed.
Meanwhile, my friend Helen indulged in the Chocolate Bean Polish, another signature chocolate service. This 30-minute treatment ($60) also begins with a scrub -- a loofah brush that served as Helen's souvenir. Next, it combines the gentle exfoliation of cocoa bean husks and walnut shells. And it, too, finishes up with a softening application of cocoa body moisturizer.
The spa offers an array of other chocolate-themed treatments and packages. The Chocolate Dipped Strawberry exfoliates the skin with strawberry seeds and pumice. The Hershey Peppermint Patty incorporates an invigorating peppermint exfoliating scrub. Either treatment is followed by the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. Each combination lasts 90 minutes for $165.
Other favorites include the Herbal Meadow & Sea Scrub, which softens and exfoliates skin using crushed herbs, meadow flowers, sea salt and oils (30 minutes, $60) and the Cocoa Massage (50 minutes, $95; 80 minutes, $150).
Prior to our treatments, Helen and I rested in a lounge overlooking beautiful gardens and a reflecting pool. We also took time out in the scented aromatherapy room, complete with chaise lounges, fruit and mineral water. Later in the day, we were the only participants in what became a private Hatha yoga class on the picturesque, indoor pool deck. We also dined on a kosher fish-in-foil lunch at the luxurious spa restaurant and worked out in the state-of-the-art gym.
To re-create a chocolate spa experience at home, the spa also shares its recipe for the Whipped Cocoa Bath treatment:
Exfoliate with a loofah or skin brush. Then add 1/8 cup Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and 1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk to your bath while it fills up. Add one teaspoon of the spa's signature Whipped Cocoa Bath. If you have a whirlpool tub, turn on the jets and enjoy your soak. After your bath, slather on cocoa, milk and honey or peppermint moisturizer.
The Spa at The Hotel Hershey is located at 100 Hotel Road, Hershey, Pa. For information, call (800) 437-7439 or visit www.HersheyPA.com. For spa reservations or product mail orders, call (877) 772-9988. All spa services and products, including soaks, moisturizers, scrubs and body washes, are described online at www.spaathotelhershey.com.