Burke Williams: A Not-So-Great Escape

— by Caroline on Crack

photo from https://www.ehotelbooking.com/thailand/phuket/diamondcottage
Meh to a BW massage.

I thought it would be a cool idea to start off the new year with a brand-new me, meaning that I’d get a massage and a dip in a mud bath at Burke Williams to remove the effects of 2005 from my knotted-up shoulders. BW was my introduction into the world of spas: fluffy robes, cucumber water, nakedity in hot tubs and touching by strangers. But when I eventually started exploring other spas, other masseuses, other aestheticians, I realized that BW was not all that. Sure, it looks like what one would expect a luxurious spa to be with the prices to reflect that but I never felt that I got my money’s worth whenever I went. That’s why it took me three years to finally use a gift certificate given to me by an ex, then-bf.

Whenever I perused the Burke Williams Web site to figure out which treatment I wanted done, I could never bring myself to make an appointment for anything. My gift certificate was worth a half-session facial (25 minutes for $70). Did I want to spend that on an unsatisfying Swedish massage or an overpriced facial? (Nowadays, my regular aesthetician who does extraordinary work only charges me about that much for an hour.)

    I tried to motivate myself with, “At least you can use the spa facilities before and after the treatments,” but since BW is so mainstream newbie spa-goers usually clog up the hot tubs and saunas with chatter. The sign says, “No Talking,” ladies!

And there’s usually a lot of them. As women go to bathrooms together, they go to spas together. There were gaggles of girlfriends everywhere (even in the quiet room where you’re supposed to just lie there QUIETLY on a La-Z-Boy).

But this time I dragged myself over to the Santa Monica location for a Swedish/Shiatsu combo massage and a Fango mud bath. I never got a shiatsu massage before because I was under the impression that it was just a lot of poking, but I thought that this method tempered with the standard Swedish would be a good way to break into something new to me. Sure enough, it wasn’t. I got a very unsatisfying poking concentrated up and down my spine, and before I knew it the end had arrived signaled by the masseuse placing my robe on my reclined form and saying, “Thank you, I’ll step out of the room now.” Maybe if I wasn’t so ticklish, it wouldn’t have been such a stressful experience for me. But I get massages all the time and that was never a problem before. I’ll just attribute the ticklishness to the concentrated poking and never get a shiatsu massage again.

The Fango mud bath experience, unfortunately, didn’t actually mean that I got to wallow in scented mud. Rather, it was a stereotypical pampering experience with scented water, cucumber slices over my eyes and a cool towel on my forehead. However, the fact that the tub was located adjacent to the vanity room where women blow dry their hair and try to carry on conversations while doing so made it difficult to just sink into the luxuriousness of the bath.

Thinking back, I should have went during an off time and not on the eve of New Year’s Eve when everyone was cashing in their Christmas gift certificates and thinking a day at the spa would be a good way to kick off the new year. But regardless, with BW’s high prices and so-so spa treatments, I think I’m better off having Calgon take me away.

1358 4th Street
Santa Monica, California 90401
Reservations: (866) 239-6635