Escape to Exhale
As much as I love my job, there’s nothing better than leaving the office on Friday afternoon, knowing your entire weekend stretches ahead of you. The only thing better than sneaking out early on a recent Friday? Knowing I was about to make my way to the Pacific Ocean-adjacent Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, home to Exhale Santa Monica.
Exhale, which has 27 locations across the U.S., bills itself as a spa, gym and boutique fitness studio that boasts a full spa menu, plus a range of cardio, barre and yoga classes. Although I’m an avid yogi, I’d come to Exhale Santa Monica to experience the “Back + Face” (90 min./$250) from the spa’s new treatment menu, which launched in February.
I wove my way through the Fairmont’s lobby—quite a scene on a Friday night—happy to retreat into Exhale’s quiet zone. Lauren, the spa’s front desk attendant, led me outside (yes, here in Southern California, we really can have everything al fresco, not just dining). Among soft lighting, terra cotta tiling, a trickling water fountain and a spa-perfect “Calm Triumphs Turbulence, Touch Conquers Strain” art piece are Exhale’s four treatment rooms, co-ed lounge and locker rooms.
I could barely wait to don my fluffy robe and slippers, and I immediately slipped into a lounge chair in the locker room for some much needed clear-my-mind quiet time. After a 15-minute steam room session, I met my esthetician Nadia in the lounge. She guided me to her treatment room, where we discussed my ongoing battle with cystic, hormonal acne on my back and face, exactly the reason I’d been so eager to receive my first “back facial”.
I started face down on the treatment table, and Nadia cleansed my entire back using SIRCUIT Cosmeceuticals‘ X-Trap, then employed 302 Professional Skincare‘s organic green tea and lemon verbena exfoliator and a Jindilli Lime Blossom body scrub to rid my back of dead cells. I was grateful that she was able to perform a handful of extractions—my hot yoga addiction means I’m in a sweaty sports bra many times a week, and there’s something so frustrating about knowing I’ve got clogged pores on my back that I just can’t reach. After a soft, soothing neck and shoulder massage, I flipped over so Nadia could begin to work her magic on my complexion.
Nadia’s gentle touch had me instantly relaxed, and I truly appreciated her thorough line of questioning about the skin care I was using at home so that she could adjust the products and masks she chose accordingly. After a double cleansing, exfoliation and a lengthy series of deep extractions (no pain, no gain, right?), I was treated to a cranberry enzyme peel and a hydrating and cooling mask, punctuated by a fabulous hand massage and equally wonderful facial massage. For my service, Nadia used a mix of products from SIRCUIT Cosmeceuticals, Jimm Harrison Phytotherapy Institute, iS CLINICAL and Biotone.
An hour and a half later I was practically gliding back to the ladies’ locker room, where I reluctantly slipped back into my clothes. After a traffic-free drive home (a true treat in LA!), I was in my sweats and asleep in no time. I can’t remember the last time I slept that well!
An added bonus? Nadia’s nearly immediate email follow-up, passing along her contact information and reminding me of the name of the natural supplements and acne book she’d recommended (Acne No More and ZENMED’s Derma Cleanse Capsules). As a client, I truly appreciate that type of attention to detail and follow up. There’s no doubt I’ll make my way back to Exhale, and Nadia’s treatment table, sometime soon.