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Safronya Retreat

Summer Away from the City

Summers in the city are always hit or miss. Weather reports often augur gorgeous weather after a day or two of unexpected sunshine, but we all know that just because itís June, it doesnít mean diddly-squat. A few hours of balminess might give you gleeful intimations of the French Riviera, but I dare you to drive to the other side of the city, and the banks of fog will make you feel like youíre marooned on a Scandinavian fjord. And donít even get me started on the necessity of dressing in layers.

But now that the season for bikinis and barbecues is staring us right in the face, thereís really no need to wallow in the caprices of a San Francisco summer. Hereís a suggestion for a getaway thatís good for the body, mind, and soul -- and thatíll guarantee youíll get a tan while indulging.

Smack in the middle of sun-dappled San Rafael, Safronya Retreat offers an easy respite from the malaise of city life. Not only is it a prime place to visit when youíre ready to kick up your feet and receive the royal treatment, itís not really a spa at all. As soon as you walk through the doors of the place, youíre offered a pair of slippers and a seat on a cozy couch -- planted in the midst of gorgeous Indian dťcor and warm, earthy color schemes. A bookshelf shaped like a stupa harbors plenty of resources on the science of Ayurveda, an ancient wellness practice that suffuses all the treatments and detoxification packages at Safronya.

As you sip on a cooling beverage (lemon juice, agave, and cucumber, especially for the summer weather) and nibble on blueberries before your treatment, itís easy to understand why Safronya is quickly becoming one of the most lauded wellness centers around. You can sit in the kitchen and enjoy a specially prepared meal, have a yoga session or comprehensive health consultation to help you determine your ďdoshaĒ (or body composition, in the Ayurvedic system), or indulge in one of the centerís body treatments, perhaps a soothing herbal facial or four-handed Abhyanga oil massage.

Add to all the treats the grace and professionalism of the practitioners (who are loaded with great tips on full body/mind/spirit wellness) and the decorating tips youíll collect after one visit to this hip haven, and you have something close to perfect.

The treatment I enjoy at Safronya is the Signature Detoxifying Body Wrap, which Iím told is perfect for the summer because of its cooling and detoxifying properties. Iím ushered into a quiet, upstairs treatment room, where my therapist, Stephanie, begins with a meticulous, full-body dry brushing, which exfoliates and effects lymph circulation, all at once. After this relaxing process, Stephanie slathers me with a sumptuous paste of warmed saffron (a key ingredient in the centerís treatments for its many beneficial properties), Morroccan red clay, sandalwood, aloe, and rose.

Aside from making one smell heavenly, the purpose of this blend is to add vital minerals to the body and offer a sort of self-heating detoxifying treatment for skin thatís sensitive. Iím wrapped up like a burrito while the mixture sinks into my skin, and Stephanie treats me to a gentle yet effective head and scalp massage (perfect for those suffering from summer sinuses). When I feel like Iím just about ready to drift off into la-la land, Stephanie takes off the wrappings, and I head over to the bath area for a long, hot shower. As if that werenít enough, Iím treated to a soothing, full-body oil massage afterwards and sent on my way, perfectly equipped to face the remainder of my day.

Aside from the fact that I love the folks at Safronya, who emphasize both inner and outer beauty, not to mention a commitment to helping each individual who walks through their doors achieve a healthy balance appropriate to their lifestyle, itís one of the only places I can think of that delivers on the goods. That is, aside from offering some of the most delicious and indulgent treatments around (uh, how many other establishments include facials that smell good enough to eat, or oil massages with two practitioners?), Safronya guarantees results.

Over the course of the next few days, I realize that the effects of my treatment prove that it wasnít a mere pampering session; I notice a marked difference in both my skin, which is softer and more supple than usual, and my energy level, which doesnít appear to be at all flummoxed by long commutes or major deadlines.

The entire Safronya experience isnít simply about indulging every now and then. Once you set foot in those doors and cozy up with a book on Ayurveda, youíll fall in love with the simplicity and beauty of this wellness practice, which ensures that peace of mind, spiritual bliss, and a healthy, balanced body are all well within reach.