Marbella Club on Spain's balmy Costa del Sol is the sweetest remedy for those annoying late-March snowstorms. Shrouded in sweaters for months, my skin is the colour of Metamucil and I'm feeling woefully subpar. Nothing a good seawater drenching can't fix.
The Spanish have long been obsessed with sea bathing, and Marbella Club Spa is one of their best for thalassotherapy - the use of heated seawater to restore vitality. While most upscale facilities feature snazzy showers, few offer fresh seawater Vichy - a horizontal shower with jets adjusted to alternate between vigorous and gentle massage.
At the start of the Thalasso Vichy Detox, my therapist whispers, "Think beautiful things." She begins with a soft exfoliation of coarse sea salt tempered with lubricating oil. As she caresses my toes, it's suddenly natural to think of nothing but raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. She then swings the Vichy shower "arm" to hover over me, aligning the six spigots with major muscle groups. While I lay under a steady stream of Mediterranean salt water, she massages my scalp, her meditative rhythm a contrast to the effervescence of the jets. The full-body algae-mask finale marinates me in a melee of minerals. After a refreshing rinse, I emerge chipper and ready for tapas.
By acting on the circulation, Vichy jets stimulate detoxification while ocean nutrients in the mask may boost the immune system. The algae contain more than 50 trace elements and a host of beneficial minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron and zinc. Moreover, it's bubbly and blissful, like an underwater massage. I'm so relaxed afterward, I stumble into a deep siesta on a nearby beach bed still wearing spa sandals.
Back in the day, Marbella Club was where likes of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly came to unwind. A stress-free haven where even Jackie O let her locks go uncoiffed. Snuggled on a sublime slice of Marbella's prestigious Golden Mile, the Bel Air-style villa was originally built by Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg as his private residence. With a carefree and subtlety sophisticated scene, it's no surprise the spa is a hit with guests seeking a therapeutic "top-up" to their lazy days.
They certainly know how to hook clientele, offering temptingly titled treatments such as Bosom Beauty Care, Leg Revival and Brown Sugar Bronzing. After sampling such body enhancers, there's little to do but long, languid lunches - the infamous buffet is the only trough dining experience that has ever impressed me. After sunset, foodies flock to Michelin-starred executive chef Juan Galvez's Andalusian creations. In short, Marbella Club offers an august atmosphere for spa-goers who would rather leave the champagne-guzzling to the young and the strapless set farther down the coast.
Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa at Bulevar del Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe; Marbella, Spain; 34-95-282-2211; marbellaclub.com; $227 for 75 minutes.