Spas indulge bridal parties
And you thought weddings were simple equations of rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception. There is also, among a whirligig of other build-up bashes, the spa party.
At the Spa in The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, elaborate Roman feasts barely hold a candle to the stops pulled out to pamper the wedding party. Says owner Susan Goldstein, “Often brides will rent the whole spa for manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, use of the pool and the health club. We’ll send down food from Zephrus [the restaurant attached to the hotel], and the party will bring bottles of champagne [not forgetting the town has been dry].”
And the royal treatment is not just for women. Ms. Goldstein reports, “Men account for 25 per cent of manicures these days, a service we call a men-y mani. Men get 40 per cent of the facials.” Regarding facials, Ms. Goldstein says, “The smart bride doesn’t get a facial right before the wedding unless she’s done it regularly for six months in advance. You don’t want any last-minute adverse reactions.” The Mansion House Spa also delivers hot-stone massages (it sounds like torture, but it’s sheer heaven), and an ultra-pampering called the Vichy Shower. The latter consists of 10 jets of water drilling the subject who lies in the tub after a honey-almond body wrap and loofah-glow rubdown.
At Panache, located across the street from Conroy’s Apothecary in West Tisbury, bridal parties can treat themselves to day-long spa visits. The whole panoply of sybaritic services is offered: manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, hair and makeup. Spa owner Maureen O’Malley also travels to Island houses to gussie up the star players, but she’s just as happy to welcome them into her calming salon with its light blue and green walls downstairs, and a palette of cream and peach colors upstairs.
Panache also provides body waxing and a full retail outlet for lotions and potions.
Boucle on North Water street in Edgartown is also an upstairs-downstairs affair, with a cloistered brick patio in back overlooking a hidden, in-town parkland.
While small clusters of wedding guests at a time inhabit the beautiful little rooms for mani-pedi’s, waxing, facials, and massages, the remaining partiers can enjoy a catered lunch on the patio while sipping champagne, that libation that seems to run like tap water for anything having to do with weddings. Boucle personnel will also venture to bridal houses to perform the ablutions of hair and makeup, although salonista Susan Chapman loves the ambience at Boucle, concocted by Island designer Mary Rentschler in shades of taupes and roses to complement skin tones and shades of makeup. Ms. Chapman validates the belief that weddings — or at least Vineyard weddings — yield a recession-proof business: “Even though June and September are traditionally the big months for bridal parties, we’re booked clear through the summer.”
At the Guys ’n’ Dolls salon, nestled in an adorable gingerbread cottage across from the Oak Bluffs harbor, owner Alisha Dummebier receives wedding parties bearing bottles of champagne to see them through their massages, mani-pedi’s, facials, hair and make-up sessions. Says Ms. Dummebier: “You’ve got to stay flexible in this business. I’ve had New Yorkers call up to schedule a wedding group for the very next day. I always manage to squeeze them in.”
In an expanse of bleached wood floors and ivory-colored walls, Guys ’n’ Dolls offers two pedicure chairs that make your eyes glaze with longing for that particular luxury: They’re mounted like thrones over footsie Jacuzzis, and the padded parts of the seats come equipped with built-in massagers. As Ms. Dummebier says about bridal bashes, some of which include up to 15 people, “It’s about beauty and quality time.”
Isn’t it, though?
[Originally published in the April 25, 2008 issue of the Vineyard Gazette's Wedding Planner; reviewed for updates in 2012.]