Let me begin by saying the Hotel Hershey is really one unbelievably fabulous place to stay. I've never been anywhere that compares to it. Now granted I am not exactly experienced in luxurious accommodations. I am
Understand I have a great deal of difficulty accepting service without feeling twinges of guilt. It's a function of growing up with a mother who was an exploited factory worker and also having Pennsylvania German values drilled into my head. You don't ask others to do that which you are fully capable of doing for yourself. So when the bellman asked me if he could take my bag as I wheeled it up (after deciding to park my own car before I got to the valet area) I had to take a deep breath before I said, "Yes, thank you." Turn down service? Are you kidding? You're going to fold back the sheets on my bed for me. Really, that's a complete mindbender for me. You can laugh but yes, that sort of thing blows my circuits. I just had to keep telling myself this is what we are paying for. Since I live in a tourist area though and we encounter a lot of very rude and demanding tourists I am always mindful of wanting to be a "good guest." I try to tip decently and be as pleasant as I can to whoever is doing their job for me. I recognize they work hard and I can either make their job more or less difficult with my attitude.
So after checking in and being handed a Hershey bar, I was escorted to my room and given directions for how to find things, briefed on the various amenities in my room, and left to relax for a while before wandering to the spa for....the Chocolate Immersion. My misunderstanding was that I'd be sitting in some sort of tub of chocolate milk, which is an actual service offered at the spa, but the Immersion was not that. I was not in the least bit disappointed though. Forgive me, but I forgot my camera for this part. I got lost wandering around the hotel (it's that big) and looking at the amazing decor and then it was too late to get back to my room to grab my camera before I had to check in at the spa. The next day I took this picture of the ceiling in the locker room area.
After enjoying the spa's steam room, aromatherapy room, and quiet rooms (This picture is the aromatherapy room.) I was ushered into a very clinical looking room with tiled walls, a drain in the floor, and a table draped in plastic in the middle of it. I was thinking surgery or torture or something. She explained things to me and after I was all set up she got to work. First she scrubbed me with chocolaty smelling goo that had ground up cocoa nibs in it. Then she coated me in a mixture of mud, dark chocolate, and cocoa oil before wrapping me in the plastic and draping me with warm towels. She turned the lights down low and started some beach sounds music and told me to relax and she'd be back. Boy, that was hard...not. I think if she had waited just a couple more minutes I'd have been snoring. When she came back she rinsed me off, dried me off, and smeared me up with some cocoa butter. We had chatted a good bit before and after the relaxing bit. She shared what a great employer Hershey is and how well they treat their employees, including kids as young as 15 who are even provided free transportation via buses that run through the city. She also told me that since I was her last appointment and because I was so nice to her she gave me an extra half hour which included some special treatments. That was after she greeted me upon introduction and exclaimed how lovely the grey in my hair was. I was definitely feeling the bliss.
I have to say, knowing that really made me able to let some of the guilt twinges go. I felt a lot better knowing the folks who were making my stay so nice were also being treated well. I also have to mention that every single staff member I encountered from spa technicians, to receptionists, to bellmen, to waiters, to the turn down lady, to gift shop cashiers were, without exception, completely wonderful. They never failed to address me by name and in the most pleasant manner. Everyone seemed genuinely devoted to making their guests as comfortable and as happy as possible. I managed to forget my favorite earrings in the pocket of my spa robe and realized it while I was at dinner. I asked the maitre d' if I could make a call to the spa about it. The spa was closed so I left a message. The waiter asked if I'd like him to call security to have them let me in so I could check through the hamper where I tossed my robe. Since they were not exactly expensive I really couldn't see troubling anyone to that extent but I was impressed with the way folks were willing to do so.
The next day I had a rain shower, which amounts to standing in a round shower stall with about 20 shower heads shooting at you while a technician stands about 8 feet away and hoses you down with a high powered hose. It felt good on the tense muscles in my neck and shoulders but it also made me giggle. It just struck me as funny to pay a boatload of money to have someone hose you down like you were being deloused for prison or something. Ok, I have a warped mind. It was still funny. After that I had a Swedish massage with a masseuse who was quite the chatty thing. I heard her life story as a middle child with a domineering older sister and actually got some insights on how my own middle child may be looking at the world around her so that was a bonus.
Finally, I went to the Oasis Lounge for the buffet lunch. The Oasis is just for spa goers so they can eat while they pad around in their robes and slippers. I had three meals during my stay. One was at the Fountain Cafe, one by room service, and one at the Oasis. There was not a single bite of food I was served that was anything less than fabulous. Everything was perfection. I even had fresh berries for breakfast which were juicy, ripe, and flavorful at a time when they are not exactly in season. I had a nice glass of champagne for dinner. This was for my 40th birthday after all. Did I mention the desserts? This is Hershey, you realize. Milk chocolate creme brulee, chocolate cheesecake, strawberry tartlets.....ooooh, those were just the ones I tasted. The buffet alone had 7 choices. To die for. I'm telling you. I was a happy girl.
The last thing which was included in my overnight spa stay was an admission to the Botanical Gardens. Since I had to check out by noon I headed over there before departing to my friend's house. It's November so there's not exactly a lot to look at botanically speaking (though that sign gave me something to ponder). Fortunately, Hershey, PA has not had the hard freeze my corner of the state has had so although the perennials and annuals were completely done and most were cut down the massive rose garden was still blooming. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that. I wandered all the grounds to make sure I didn't miss anything but I spent a lot of time in the rose garden, which had tremendous variety. I took a ridiculous number of pictures there. I am still weeding through them to decide which are the best to share with you. I doubt any of you has the patience to look at the over 100 shots of roses (and really only about 8 of them were completely unusable). Yeah, I went a bit crazy. It was nice to be able to do that without people hurrying me along to the next thing or rolling their eyes at me by the time I was up to my 20th picture. I will share the best later in the week.
Finally, I pulled out of the parking lot and headed toward my girlfriend's house. We tried to figure how long it had been and decided it had to be at least 6 years. Her sisters came over that night. I had only ever met them at my friend's over wedding 15 years ago. Only one knew I was coming that night but she greeted me warmly. The other one walked in, took one look at me and said, "Michelle! So good to see you. You look just the same!" Now I well know I don't but what a nice way to be greeted by someone you met exactly once that long ago. We just had a great time together until late in the evening. The next day was kind of chaotic as we watched 4 kids under the age of 8 but when the one sister returned from her commitments she watched all 4 kids so my friend and I could go have lunch by ourselves. It was late till we got back and my friend convinced me to stay an extra night so another late night was enjoyed after some fun with the kids.
When I got home the house was kind of a wreck but Diana and Isaac were out and Mr. Lime was on his way out. Calypso had 2 friends here for a girls' chick flick day so I joined in the laziness since I was still pretty blissed out.
Yeah, it was all good. Aaaaahhhh.