I awoke the morning of my first visit to the Burke Williams spa in San Francisco eagerly anticipating a leisurely few hours of relaxation and pampering. I would arrive early for a steam or sauna, lounge in my robe with the latest celeb gossip magazine and then drift into my Spa Style Facial without a care in the world.
So, yeah, that’s not exactly how it went down.
Instead, after prying my 19-month-old’s hands from around my neck and trying not to feel guilty about her cries of “Mama, Mama!” (yes, she’s a master manipulator already), I flung myself into the car and proceeded to spend the next full hour in traffic getting from Menlo Park up to Westfield San Francisco Centre, where the spa is located. (Related question: Is there ANY street in San Francisco that is not undergoing some sort of construction work?) I burst through the door apologizing for my lateness—the treatment had been scheduled to start five minutes earlier—and feeling very un-Zen.
But no matter. Without batting an eye, the receptionist whisked me off to the women’s locker room, and in less than two minutes I was robed, slippered and being guided to my treatment room by the calm, steady hand of my esthetician extraordinaire, Ireland. After an hour of masks, massage, a paraffin hand treatment and various other splendors, the morning’s hectic start was a distant memory.
I was reluctant to exit the treatment area, but was immediately greeted by an attendant who ushered me toward a big comfy chair and a snack selection so lovely I almost didn’t want to disturb the presentation (I said “almost”). I then had a chance to really explore the 16,500-square-foot facility, most notably a locker room that is better stocked than my own bathroom and features steam, sauna, cool misting room, and a massive whirlpool tub.
San Francisco is the newest addition to the Burke Williams family, which includes 10 day spas across California. The décor pays tribute to Paris, with a striking black-and-white color scheme and French-inspired artwork. The menu of relaxation and beauty treatments is extensive and ranges from massage to nail care to hydrotherapy.
Burke Williams is an idyllic spot to enjoy a solo break from the rigors of daily life—whether job, kids, high-maintenance pets or an unruly email inbox—but it also struck me as a fantastic destination for a group of women who want to enjoy some pampering together. Within 48 hours after my own visit, I had emailed several friends to get a spa date on the calendar.
Beyond its usual treatment selections, the spa will be offering special Valentine’s Day packages for individuals and couples, starting February 1. So now’s the time to subtly—or not so subtly—remind your significant other that, “Roses are red, violets are blue, but a massage is the best way to say ‘I love you.’”