Spa Blends Luxury with History

By Kathie Farnell
Photos by Jack M. Purser

Mobile, Alabama’s elegant old Battle House Hotel hides a world-class full European spa and sauna. Recently named one of the “7 Must-Visit Spas in the World” by Shape Magazine, the Spa at the Battle House is open to the public daily and includes a rooftop pool, a fitness center and beauty salon in a 10,000 foot luxury facility overlooking the downtown waterfront.

Though the spa can be entered directly from the hotel’s parking facility (which offers free parking for spa guests), visitors should first explore the Battle House’s spectacular renovated lobby. Originally opened in 1852, the Battle House burned in 1905 and was completely rebuilt with a spacious lobby surmounted by balconies, ornate plaster ceilings and an enormous stained-glass dome. In the 1970s, the building fell on hard times and was boarded up for more than two decades. Amazingly, the stained glass and many of the elegant plaster details survived and today the hotel is once more the center of Port City social life.

The Spa, tucked away on an upper floor far from the bustle of the lobby, welcomes visitors with a water-walled entry, indirect lighting and a hushed atmosphere. The spa’s treatments include warm stone and Ashiatsu massage, reflexology foot massage and organic body wraps. In addition to the eight treatment rooms, the facility includes separate Quiet Rooms, each with its own tiled Jacuzzi, for the men’s and women’s sides, lounges, inhalation/steam rooms and a full-service hairdressing salon.

The Organic BodyWrap, in which I participated, involves being rubbed with sugar and rolled in plastic wrap, producing a sort of human praline sensation. After marinating for awhile, I showered off most of the sugar and was given a relaxing massage featuring something called a “blueberry soufflé.”

Jack, meanwhile, had chosen to forego the more edible offerings in favor of a warm stone massage. He was enthusiastic about the process, which involved lying on warm flat stones while a masseuse worked over arms and legs with another warm stone and scented oil.

Director Tricia Fagan says that the 50-minute “Urban Relaxation Massage” is popular with first-time visitors. “This is the only facility of its kind in Mobile,” she notes, “and we’re very popular with local people as well as hotel guests. Our fitness membership club has 125 members, including people who work downtown and want a place to go during lunch. Our salon is also very popular, and clients like the fact that we’re open on Sundays.”

The Spa at the Battle House is part of the RTJ Spa Trail—a collection of five world-class spas scattered throughout the state as part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Resort Collection. Owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, these resorts cater to golfers as well as visitors who want to enjoy a peaceful sojourn in beautiful, natural surroundings. For spa devotees, a Spa Trail Card, available for $40, offers discounts on spa services, retail products and hotel room rates.

For visitors who want to combine physical activity with relaxation, the Spa at the Battle House features a complete fitness center and a rooftop pool with a view over downtown Mobile. A poolside bar and live music on Thursday evenings adds to the sense that a visit to the spa is like a trip to a more-serene reality.

The Spa at the Battle House is located adjacent to the Battle House Hotel at 26 North Royal Street in downtown Mobile, Alabama. For more information telephone 251-338-2000 or check The Battle House, A Renaissance Hotel & Spa website.

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