“You’ll love it,” I say. “It’s just like physical therapy,” I offer. “We’ll schedule it around the college bowl games,” I finally relent.
And so begins our spa vacation at Aurora’s Walden Country Inn & Stables. Our escape doesn’t require planes, trains or countless highway miles. Ohio’s only AAA five-diamond hotel is a short car ride from downtown Cleveland. But if you think the drive’s too short to let go of weekday worries, forget about it.
There’s nothing citified about Walden’s 32 acres of horse pastures, patterned after Henry David Thoreau’s idea of peace. The spa features three floors of calming green tones and small, stone-flanked hallways tucked into walls with dramatic high windows. Privacy and comfort are paramount — which is why we’re not allowed to divulge the names of the athletes, executives and bona fide stars who come here to get away.
Thirty minutes of premassage downtime in our private spa suite — with a Jacuzzi, Swiss steam shower and fireplace — allows for a quiet salt-bath soak. The masseuse who proceeds to work on my back for the next hour and a half is strong, precise and gentle. It’s a guilty pleasure I could endure for hours. After Jim and I groggily murmur our approval, the masseuses leave us to enjoy the suite —but not before offering to send us a beverage. “You had me at mojito,” Jim contentedly replies, clearly a spa convert.
Later, we enter our room to the sultry sound of jazz music and ascend stairs to an oversize loft lit by tealight candles and warmed by a glass-encased fireplace. There’s a bottle of wine chilling near a deep Jacuzzi and a plate of biscotti on the bed.
“I could put in a kitchen and live here,” Jim determines, surveying the luxury. I just smile. Unaffected relaxation means never having to say, “I told you so.”
Go for a ride. This is horse country! Guided trail rides are $75 an hour.
Experience a shower like you never have before. The Vichy treatment ($125) feels like getting rained on — by massaging rain.