A couple’s massage at a serene spa overlooking icy Lake Michigan, warm raclette cheese skimmed off the wheel over a glowing fire … and thou. Anyone searching for a relaxing weekend getaway at spa resorts in Michigan will find it at The Homestead.
There are days when the view from The Homestead’s Spa Amira floods your senses with the azure blues of the Lake Michigan panorama that unfolds below its bluff perch.
Then there are days when the entire scene is painted in serene shades of dove white and dawn gray. When the outdoor spa pool is blanketed in snow, whipped by the wind into feathery swirls. On these days, if you are patient, you may spot the bald eagle that nests near here, gliding on the wind currents that blow across the bay.
There’s a tender beauty to these winter days at Spa Amira—a name that means princess in Arabic and treetops in Hebrew. They come with a quietude that makes it perfect for a midwinter Michigan spa getaway when a spark of romance lights up the season. And that’s just what we’re seeking as my partner and I check in for a couple’s massage on just such a getaway.
The construction of the spa in this secluded corner of The Homestead’s expansive grounds was by design, according to Tracy Rosa, Spa Amira’s supervisor. “The idea is to keep the experience calm and serene,” she says, adding that Lillyjade, the resort’s petite but glamorous hair and nail salon, is set down in bustling Mountain Village, apart from the spa, because it so often hosts bridal parties and other lively groups.
We feel embraced by this quietude the moment we enter—an atmosphere that is enhanced by slipping on soft, fawn-colored robes and choosing between a glass of wine and a cup of herbal tea while we wait in the Relaxation Room. Our massage therapists, Callie and Molly, usher us to the couple’s massage room. If you’ve never had a couple’s massage (or as they are also called, “duets”), it’s never too late to treat yourself to this healthy pampering.
We are sharing an Arnica Well-Being Massage. It is an intensive treatment geared toward relaxing sore muscles and stiff joints and targets specific areas with a combination of medium to deep pressures. Our therapists will use a gel made from Arnica (also known as Leopard’s Bane), an ancient European herb used to soothe sore muscles and a rub made from sweet birch (from the tree of the same name) that Native Americans used from time immemorial to ease pain and soreness.
Beginning with our toes, our therapists work deftly—Molly taking particular care on a slew of serious skeletal issues of my partner’s. After they finish, they quietly exit the room, leaving us to gently come back to earth. After the massage, my partner settles back in the Relaxation Room in blissful contentment with a glass of pinot grigio, watching snow flurries move in and out over the lake. I move on to enjoy a facial from Mara, a staff esthetician, that the spa calls the Luminous C and Sea Facial Treatment. That translates to 75 minutes of blissful pampering that moves from a cherry hydration mask to a seaweed remineralizing mask and a 24k gold luminosity mask. And yes, also another foot and hand massage. Oh my.
How do you top-off an afternoon like that? We head into the Mountain Village’s Whisker’s restaurant for what the menu calls Fireplace Raclette. In Whisker’s we get the warm, intimate service that The Homestead is known for. Our server, Pam, introduces herself, even shaking our hands. JP comes out from the kitchen to explain another dish on the menu—a cast-iron cauldron that hangs over the fire (talk about a true Northwoods touch!) filled on any given night with stew, soup or chili. Then Leland, a house sous chef, emerges with a half-wheel of raclette (made up the road from The Homestead by Leelanau Cheese) gripped in a Swiss-made cooking tool called a Flame. He holds it carefully near the embers and as the flat end turns from golden to molten-white he scrapes hot, melty yum onto a plate for us. We eat it leisurely with crusty bread and locally produced pinot grigio. There is a checkers game on our table, so we pull it out and enjoy a friendly game—wrapped in the buffalo-plaid wool blankets hung on our chairs.
Tomorrow night we will dine at Nonna’s where The Homestead’s famed chef, John Piombo, executes mouthwatering Italian dishes from scratch. Note: If you can, make a reservation on Valentine’s Day for Nonna’s Cena di San Valentino 2020. The menu includes homemade lobster ravioli, pancetta-wrapped shrimp and lamb chop Scotadita. It will be your best Valentine’s ever. Promise.
But for now, we will head back to our sweet suite with its view of the ski hill shrouded in pines and its complimentary box of chocolates and bottle of cabernet. Cheers to romantic getaways in Michigan, friends.