Club Med Sandpiper Bay is a sports-centric resort that delivers a 5-star spa experience. As home to the only L’Occitane spa in the United States, this all-inclusive family resort offers a buffet of sports activities, perfect for the fitness enthusiast. However, even the leanest of muscles needs a moment of relief and relaxation, and L'Occitane spa has a world-renowned reputation for providing that. Relaxation Area for before or after services — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
A short hop from West Palm Beach, Club Med Sandpiper Bay is two hours from Miami. An afternoon at the exclusive L'Occitane spa justifies the trip. The partnership between Club Med and L'Occitane - both French companies - has been working well. The location near West Palm marks L'Occitane's first and only spa in the United States.
As I walk in for my appointment at the spa, a French-speaking receptionist greets me with a warm friendly smile. The boutique is filled with dozens of inviting L’Occitane products. Tempted to shop before even signing in, I take a deep breath and find myself relaxing. The boutique (much like my therapy room which I’ll soon visit) is a sensory-targeted environment - soothing music, lavender scents, iced green tea and a cool damp lavender cloth greet me.
L'Occitane Spa Locker Room — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
After I sign in, my host guides me to the locker room with my uniform for the morning - a plush robe and slippers, which I gladly slip into after a warm revitalizing shower. My therapist Rachel is already in sync with me, greeting me just outside the locker room doors to show me to my treatment room.
The massage table — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
After we get through introductions and chatter, Rachel starts my 60 minute Relaxing Aromachologie massage session with a warm foot bath. She is knowledgeable and patient. On pampered toes, I head to the massage table to begin my "journey to Provence" as Rachel calls it. The worries of my mind seem to kick into overdrive, determined to keep me from “letting go.” It takes me a minute to release them but after five, I do. Rachel later tells me that at first she was doubtful but was happy and relieved that she could feel my release. Aromatherapy and expert hands are wonderful things.
Foot soaking Bowl with relaxing salts — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
The journey begins with low lights, L’Occitane’s Lavender Tea tree geranium pillow mist, diffusers, a basket of lavender beneath the face pillow, and a warm scented sheet to cover me. Expertly trained hands begin to work on delivering ultimate relaxation. I focus on every muscle that Rachel gives attention to - first, my back; then, my left foot; next, my left leg, lastly, my left arm before making her way over to the right side to repeat the process before finishing off with my shoulders, neck and head. I succumb briefly to dream land and just before I get my snore on (I felt it coming), it's time to flip over onto my back to give attention to the other side. A cool damp scented pillow cradles my neck while a lavender eye mask shade my eyes.
Products for the Relaxing Aromachologie massage — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
The whole process repeats, abbreviated to some extent. I go in and out of consciousness so the details escape me. I remember ending with a cool cloth adhered to my feet, one by one washing and revitalizing them. “One more thing before you come back from Provence,” Rachel whispers before giving my hands a quick gentle massage. I hesitate to open my eyes. I don't want to come back just yet. "How do you feel?” Rachel asks kindly. She needn't. "Amazing," I slowly and drunkenly utter. "Wonderful!" She knows her work is done.
Tea and almonds served in Relaxation area — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
We speak for a few minutes as I reorient myself. Rachel shares that the L'Occitane training for Club Med therapists is a 2-week, 9-hour a day training. This training is on top of whatever previous training therapists have before working at the spa. The company strives to ensure that the therapists are consistent with the elite service standards of the other 41 L'Occitane spas around the world. To check on consistent quality, therapists have random and regular assessments.
Overall, my experience was top-notch, the best I may have ever had. The standout moments were the warm foot bath to begin and the cooling foot wipe to end. In addition, the cool lavender scented neck towel, lavender mask, and my therapist's ability to weave in and out of moderate to firm pressure in different areas can not be beat. I spent a good hour in the outdoor relaxation area to mull over the experience, have a spot of vanilla tea, and take my time coming back to reality. I don't want to leave Provence!