Do they really have chocolate massages?” is a question I’m frequently asked when people find out I’m a regular guest at the Spa at the Hotel Hershey, in Hershey, Pa.
So first things first, yes, the spa really does offer chocolate massages, scrubs, polishes, wraps, facials and hydrotherapy. After all, the town of Hershey is billed as “the sweetest place on earth.” When the wind is right, you can sit on the Spa’s patio and smell the Hershey bars being made at the factory in town.
Real chocolate isn’t used in the spa treatments, of course, rather a variety of chocolate-scented lotions, oils, bath salts and masks. However, you will find plenty of the edible stuff to nibble on, from Kisses in the spa’s reception area to chocolate muffins in the relaxation rooms. Not to mention the chocolate petit fours, cakes, puddings, pies and hot cocoa at the Oasis, the spa-only café that serves lunch inside and out (weather permitting) daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I enjoy the food of the gods as much as the next mortal, but copious chocolate isn’t why the Spa at the Hotel Hershey has become my go-to spa destination. I visit several times a year because it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. If you’re a veteran spa visitor like I am, you know that some spas are the antithesis of relaxation – the walls are too thin so you hear doors closing. Or the relaxation spaces are small, so your personal space is compromised. Or the aesthetician is overworked so you receive a lackluster or hurried treatment.
Now, mind you, the Spa at the Hotel Hershey isn’t exactly deserted. In fact, it attracts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors a year, according to Hershey Entertainment and Resorts spokesperson Megan Shaffer. Yet I’ve never had my experience diminished by overcrowding. I try to avoid weekend visits and the month of December when “Christmas at Hershey” activities draw crowds. But the main reason the Spa feels so uncongested is because the place is vast: 30,000 square feet total, with much of that square footage dedicated to relaxation, including an inhalation room and a quiet room.
In June, the spa opened a new 2,000-square-foot relaxation area next to the Oasis café. It’s a warm and rich setting with Moroccan-themed furnishings, overstuffed furniture and crystal chandeliers. However, when the weather’s right, my favorite R&R spot is the Oasis patio, where one can dine alfresco or simply curl up in one of the Adirondack chairs that are clustered about the lawn.
The Hotel Hershey is a grand old dame of a property, set high on a hill overlooking the town. Milton Hershey built the property during the height of the Depression to give jobs to about 600 local construction workers. Lowell Thomas once described the hotel as a “palace that out palaces the palaces of the Maharajahs of India.”
I guess I’ll reserve my judgment on that until I actually see the palaces of India but I’ll readily agree that the Hotel Hershey is a beautiful piece of architecture. It’s been recognized by Forbes with its Four-Star Award and by AAA with the Four-Diamond Award.
Last year, a $67 million expansion was unveiled to celebrate the hotel’s 75th anniversary. Enhancements include a year-round ice-skating rink, new recreation area, 130-seat restaurant, seven boutique shops and the Woodside Cottages, four- and six-bedroom units that represent the most deluxe of the hotel’s lodging options. Cottage interiors feature large bedrooms, sitting and dining areas with native stone hearths, marble bathrooms and quaint front porches with rocking chairs.
But my vote for the best part of the expansion would have to be the new multi-pool complex that includes an adult pool with infinity edge, a whirlpool, a family pool with zero-grade entry and an adjoining kiddie pool. Fourteen rental cabanas surround the pools. Each features a 32-inch flat-screen TV, lounge chairs and refrigerator.
There is a catch – at least for day spa visitors who like to enjoy an afternoon by the pool after a single treatment. Spa visitors who aren’t overnight guests may not use the pool complex unless they’ve purchased a full day of treatments or special package of services. But any spa visitor is still welcome to use the indoor pool.
On a recent visit, I took a dip in that pool before lazing on a chaise lounge on an adjacent patio. Best of all, I had the place to myself; if I had to guess, I’d bet everyone else was at the outdoor pool complex.
- Contributed by Margo McDonough