Stomping Grapes at 29 Spa

A winter staycation with “Stomping Grapes” massage: at $3 a minute, don’t forget to pack a sense of humor.

The sky is grey. The thermometer dips to 40 degrees in Atlanta, and all we can think of is a 140-degree sauna. So we pack a bag and check into the nearby Mansion on Peachtree for a little R&R in the form of a steamy whirlpool at 29 Spa, a deep massage and a healthy dose of room service.

The spa is the brainchild of Atlanta native Lydia Mondavi, who married Robert Mondavi, Jr. (grandson of the winemaking legend) and built a business based on the cosmetic benefits of the grape. Basically, the idea is that the anti-oxidant, free radical-scavanging power of procyanidins, contained in grape seed extract, is a fountain of youth even more more promising than Vitamin E or Vitamin C. Grape seed products are the common denominator in all the spa’s services. The name, “29″, refers not to the age all spa-goers would like to stay, but to the scenic route through California wine country. It is about as far from Peachtree Road as a person can get.

We decide to dispense with the spa menu’s numerous facial, wraps and soaks, and go strait to a no nonsense, deep sports massage, which was somewhat uncomfortably named “Stomping Grapes.” (50 mins., $125; 80 mins., $145.) Our therapist, Alisa, is a pro. Her technique was well-practiced, even with special requests like abdominal massage. And, her work might even have been effective at relieving sore muscles if we’d had hours to spend, but in what feels like a moment, we find ourselves back in the waiting area where we began exactly 50 minutes ago. Oh well, time to soak up some heat in the sauna.

Just a few years ago, 29 Spa earned “de-stress” accolades from Shape Magazine, and was described elsewhere as “swankarific.” With 15,000 square feet, 14 treatment rooms, a tranquil blue pallet and plenty of cool marble, we can see why. But there’s no wine to welcome us, no hot tea or spa menu, only the bare minimum of toiletries and towels. Worse, the distance from the steam/sauna/whirlpool area to a glass of water must have been every one of those 15,000 feet. Still, we fare better than the guys. The men’s spa is closed for repair throughout our stay, with no raincheck or further explanation. 

As a hotel, The Mansion partly lives up to its name. The facility is serene with sophisticated, contemporary decor. The staff is welcoming and accommodating, especially the housekeeping and valet teams. The restaurant, Neo, is closed. The adjacent restaurant, Craft; also closed. The Mansion was voted “One of the Top 100 U.S. Hotels in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2011,” and “The best hotel in Atlanta in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotels 2011,” but  during our visit, it was a no frills operation. Like a 5-star meal without an entree or a good bottle of wine. And the spa was like a sunny vineyard with vines left untended.

The Mansion on Peachtree, A Rosewood Hotel & Residences, 3376 Peachtree Road Northeast Atlanta, GA 30326
Hotel: (404) 995-7500  29 Spa: (404) 995-7529.

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