Anniversary Couples Massage
Thursday was our 10th wedding anniversary and with so much bounty close at hand, the biggest challenge was choosing how to celebrate it. As true of many of our celebrations, we book and unbook several times because sometimes we just don’t what we want to do until it’s close to the event.
Originally, we booked a Grand Romantic Couples Massage at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (GF) on Disney World property but switched to the Mandara Spa at the Dolphin – also on Disney World property, but part of Starwood. We chose Mandara Spa for 3 reasons:
- The Time for 2 Couples Massage included a dual massage and a dual soaking
- We heard great things about Asian-themed Mandara Spa in Las Vegas and on NCL ships
- The Balinese theming was the closest to re-enacting the fabulous spa experience at the Grand Wailea where we honeymooned on Maui
This was the first time we had wandered through the Dolphin – affectionately – or not – referred to as the “Swolphin” due to being part of a twin resort, “The Swan” and “The Dolphin.” While the valet service was efficient enough, we noticed it was slightly under par with the Disney resorts. It was a welcome change, however, to be in a resort not so tightly affiliated with Disney. It’s more like a business hotel and it felt like an adult hotel – although certainly families do stay there – especially since it’s on the Disney transportation line and within close proximity to Epcot and the Boardwalk. We explored the grounds, noting Todd English’s Bluezoo (we adore his Las Vegas version of Olives) and Shula’s Steakhouse – supposedly the best steakhouse on Disney property.
It was time for our spa appointment so we made our way over to the impressive approach to the Mandara Spa.
We checked in and were each escorted to separate locker rooms. We’re always hoping a couples massage will include a couples dressing area, but, alas, it doesn’t seem to exist – although I’m sure we saw one somewhere – perhaps at the luxury level at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
We changed out of our street clothes and into our robes and slippers, and were soon reunited in the treatment waiting room area.
This is a lovely, restful Balinese-themed room with an attached patio with lounge chairs for relaxing outside afterwards. After about a 5-minute wait we were escorted to the soaking area with the best-designed soaking tub for 2 we’ve seen. The room was a feast for the senses: darkly lit with candles, lightly-scented incense, and sounds of soft mystical music. We began to relax as soon as we set foot inside.
We enjoyed the relaxing 30-minute soak. The warm water with jets felt heavenly on my back, which is still incredibly sore. Our goal for our next home is to have our own jacuzzi or hot tub so we can always have access to this treatment – especially since I have recurring back pain.
I couldn’t wait to get to the massage – in desperate need for some back relief. This was also reminiscent of our honeymoon because after all of the wedding stress and flight to Maui, my back went out there and never did recover completely while on Maui. Massages are a fabulous way to relieve back stress, but the pain often gets worse before it gets better. But without the massage, my back wouldn’t make much improvement at all.
We were then led to the adjoining couples treatment room.
Two masseuses entered the room and Rich was assigned a female and I was assigned a male. Since I was in need of a deep tissue massage, it worked out well that I got the stronger pair of hands. 🙂 This was the first spa where we weren’t able to choose the gender of the masseuse. And while I usually request a female, the 2 times I’ve had a male masseuse I’ve had my best massages.
While Rich enjoyed his massage, he said the best masseuse he’s ever had was at the Grand Wailea on Maui. My masseuse was very good but my back was very tender during the treatment. Gauging from past experiences, this should trigger the recovery.
After the treatments, we went back out into the waiting room where we were served lemon- and cucumber-infused water. We especially enjoyed the taste of the cucumber – it was quite refreshing. We eventually wandered back to our separate locker rooms to shower and get dressed and to settle the bill at the front desk.
While we enjoyed the entire treatment package and the relaxed, mystical Balinese setting, we felt the service wasn’t as attentive as it could have been. It was often unclear what to expect next – there was very little explanation. In fact, my locker attendant almost made me late for the treatment until Rich’s attendant sent somebody in to come and get me. 🙂
We’re curious now to see if the service at the GF is more attentive, although the Couples Massage is just a massage – no hydrotherapy beforehand. But since the GF is truly a Disney property, we suspect the service may be better. We were happy with our choice, though, since it was what we were looking for on this particular occasion. We’re tentatively planning a half-anniversary/Valentine’s Day massage at the GF.
It was jarring, though, to be surrounded by theme park activities after the relaxing atmosphere. We drove home and were happy to have a nice, quiet, private dinner at home to finish our celebration. We hope to do more activities over the weekend, but our plans are changing on a daily basis as to what they actually will be.