Mirbeau Inn & Spa – One of Top 20 Small Resorts in US

By on May 4, 2011
Mirabeau Spa Garden Resort

By Michele McIntyre –

I’ve just arrived at Mirbeau Inn & Spa again after a several year hiatus. As soon as I drive through the gates onto the 12-acre property, I ask myself, “Why don’t I come here more often?” I live only 30 minutes from this award winning world-class spa and I need to make a point to come here more often. Mirbeau Inn & Spa, located in Skaneateles, NY is an intimate, year-round French country-style retreat for rejuvenation and romance, offering gracious hospitality, award-winning cuisine, and world-class spa treatments in the heart of Central New York’s Finger Lakes wine region.

The reason for this visit is to take part in Mirbeau’s Fresh Start Cleansing Retreat with other guests who share my love for the spa life, wellness and travel. The retreat ahead of us offers a full schedule of inspiring discussion, workshops and activities – with plenty of time for daily spa treatments and relaxing in the spa. It’s kind of like summer camp for wellness-minded adults, but the French-inspired accommodations are much more luxurious.

fall scents for your home

Mirbeau Inn & Spa is the only Forbes Four-Star Award winner for hotel, spa and restaurant in New York, and a AAA Four-Diamond winner. It is also distinguished by the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Top Ten Spas in the World in the categories of romance and cuisine in Spa Finder’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, and Top Five Spas for Couples in the World in back-to-back years of Spa Magazine’s Silver Sage Readers’ Choice Favorites. Mirbeau was recently named one of the Top Twenty Small Resorts in the US by Condé Nast Magazine.

While Mirbeau is known for pampering (remember those awards and accolades?), the Fresh Start Cleansing Retreat is a unique and holistic approach to connecting mind, body and spirit. This retreat is the second in the series of Life Enrichment Programs designed to fully immerse guests in the theme of each program, which will be reflected through the entire experience: food and beverage menus, workshops, activities, seminars, spa services and products. There are surprises at every turn – a basket of fresh fruit in our guestrooms, a box of Tea Forte’s Herbal Retreat collection and a loose tea tumbler/infuser. The gifts at every retreat are different and I don’t want to spoil the surprises and give it all away!

I arrive before the events of the retreat get started and I’m anxious to try out the dining room at Mirbeau and Spa Mirbeau. Is it ironic that I order the Mirbeau Hamburger hours before I’m about to embark on a detoxification? I just couldn’t resist the menu offering, even though spa lunches are available; even the cucumber water in the dining room is spa – inspired. The 8 ounces of grilled beef on a sweet and tender brioche bun with grilled red onion, Gruyere, balsamic spinach and a Portobello mushroom cap was well worth it, but turned out to be much more than I could handle. Not a bad thing, and the dining room staff offered to box it up for me, put my name on it and make it available in the kitchen on-demand. Sigh. The detox, remember?

After lunch, I made my way down to Spa Mirbeau, where couples are stretched out on the cushioned chaise lounges, happily napping the afternoon away. But I have the best seat in the house: fireside on the stone hearth, surrounded by pillows. Just outside the doors of the relaxation area, I’m in for another surprise on the Aqua Terrace, a bubbling free-form whirlpool with waterfalls and surrounded by a wall tall enough to shelter guests from the still bitter upstate NY wind, yet open to the bright and sunny March sky above. The massive stone fireplace takes the chill off and provides warmth to the al fresco space.

A popular vinotherapy service, The Press’d for Time facial (50 minutes, $140-$150), was performed by my talented and nurturing esthetician, Jennifer. I slipped into the heated treatment bed and fell under the spell of the perfectly choreographed but never perfunctory European cleansing ritual. Picking up on Jennifer’s knowledge of skincare, I felt like chatting during the treatment and Jennifer was excellent at taking my conversation cues. When I asked her the impact of about diet and lifestyle on the skin, we had an excellent discussion on the topic. When I was ready to relax, Jennifer offered me the opportunity. The treatment itself uses wine essences containing antioxidants, grape seed oils and extracts and finishes with hydration for the eyes and lips – two areas often forgotten in traditional facials.

Mirbeau’s Executive Chef Stephen Landon prepared a healthful vegetable-infused menu for just for guests of the retreat: lentil cakes with pepper salsa, poached salmon with ginger infused braised greens and arugula and radish salad with vegetable fajita’s were just some of the menu offerings we sampled. But Mirbeau’s regular menu was very difficult to resist, especially in the evening when the dining room takes the form of a French Steakhouse. If I told you how good the Hummingbird Cake was, a cross between carrot cake and banana bread with pecans, cream cheese icing, and served with crème anglaise, then you’d know exactly how tempted I was.

The retreat opened with a purification ritual and tea ceremony led by Judiann Cesta, who became our informal “detox coach” for the retreat, offering morning yoga classes and schooling us in the basics of the raw food movement/lifestyle. A custom herbal detoxifying tea had been blended for us to combat free radical and purify the body. During the purification ritual, we selected from a pile of cards that would signify our intention for the retreat. My intention was mindfulness, something I struggle with in daily life and have longed to practice. We learned from Judiann that a diet consisting of 80% raw foods has been proven to improve digestive health, lighten dispositions, heal ailments, promote weight loss and awaken the senses.

When we return to our rooms after the evening activities, our claw-foot bathtubs have been prepared with all the ingredients needed for a relaxing in-room aromatherapy bath. All that is left for us to do is to add water, pour in the Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil (Aromatherapy Associates) when the tub is almost full, and sprinkle in the dried chamomile flowers and whole rosemary. At the advice of our detox coach, I resist turning on the TV. It’s an excellent way to cap off the evening.

The morning began with detoxifying yoga with Judiann. In the afternoon, Amy Jane (Organicajane.com) led a hands-on essential oils workshop where we got to make our own customized oil or lotion-based blend. Essential oils are cold pressed or steam distilled from plants, known to detoxify and help digestive and circulatory systems.

While the retreat went on for two nights, I had planned to return home after only one night. That evening, I missed out on a spirit cleansing meditation experience led by internationally recognized energy and medical intuitive healer, Wil Alaura. The next morning, Judiann again led the group in detoxifying yoga. To wrap-up the retreat, health and wellness teacher Jessica Charbonneau, concluded with a balanced living workshop on mindfulness. The irony that I missed out on the very workshop that corresponded with my intention for the retreat is not lost on me. I have no doubt that I need to return to Mirbeau again very soon.

To bring the Mirbeau Fresh Start Cleansing Retreat into your kitchen each morning, try the very simple recipe for a Blackberry Banana Detox Smoothie, which was served to us the first morning of our retreat.

• 1 ripe banana (high in natural fiber)
• 1 ½ c. (8 oz.) frozen blackberries (high in natural fiber)
• 1 c. fresh orange juice (citrus)
• 2 tbl. toasted wheat germ (to provide additional fiber)
• Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth (1 – 1 ½ min.)
• About 2
Nutritional Information (per serving):
• 208 Calories
• 0 g. Saturate Fat
• 1 g. Unsaturated Fat
• 0 mg. Cholesterol
• 48 g. Carbohydrates
• 3 mg. Sodium
• 5 g. Protein
• 9 g. Fiber

851 West Genesee Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152
1-877-MIRBEAU (647-2328)

Michele McIntyre is a freelance spa, travel & wellness writer who is happiest when lying face up on a treatment table or writing about her spa and travel experiences. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. She is a regular contributor to Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and is a National Spa Examiner for Examiner.com. Michele’s adventures have been featured on a variety of websites including a stint as a guest spa blogger on Tripology and as a storyteller on TripAtlas.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at everythingspa.wordpress.com. When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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Mirbeau Inn & Spa – One of Top 20 Small Resorts in US