Get away, stay close

Published on Thu, Aug 8, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Get away, stay close

By Meg Olson

With a little imagination you can have a European getaway and spend less than an hour in the car. Fairhaven might just be the southern tip of Bellingham but if you let go of the longitude, latitude and language, you might as well be in Marseille and fluent in French. The streets are made for aimless strolling, there are sidewalk cafes perfect for melancholy loitering, and you’re never far away from a good glass of wine.

At the north end of Fairhaven the Chrysalis Inn and Spa is infused with another very European sentiment – relaxation and body care is serious business. It isn’t pampering, it’s medicine, but then so are wine and chocolate. The Chrysalis looks more clinic than luxury hotel from the street and the reception area also breathes simplicity and professional efficiency – the luxury is effortless and natural.

The air in the spa smells of eucalyptus, the stone floors and walls feel like the cool walls of a cave at the beach but each room has mysterious contraptions to pummel and persuade the body to glowing health: massage tables, Vichy showers, hydrotherapy tubs, facial kits, showers with 12 heads, pedicure chairs and herbal wraps. Women, and a few men, in white robes move serenely through the quiet rooms getting massaged with hot stones and soaked in a combination of seaweed, ocean water and mineral mud. ‘It’s like being in the ocean,” said manager Ellen Shea.

The 43 airy rooms in the hotel continue with an atmosphere of natural ease. The beds have crisp cotton sheets, the air smells clean and healthy and window seats offer a napping spot with a view. Sliding doors between the enormous bathtub and the bedroom translate to baths by firelight.
Fino Wine Bar offers French nouvelle cuisine with a regional twist, relying on what’s local and fresh. It’s also the place for a great glass of wine and a soothing view.

The Chrysalis Inn is not cheap. A summer package for two, including two nights at the inn, a 60-minute massage and facial for each person, and a picnic lunch to enjoy Fairhaven’s parks and trails runs $499. On the other hand, it’s a half-hour from home, and you get to step into another world briefly without airfare or airport security.


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