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The Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun
by Carolyn Donovan, February 2006

The word “spa” gets thrown around a lot lately. It seems as if anyone with a steam machine and a treatment table can set up a “spa” in their garage.

If you want a spa’s spa, so to speak, go to the Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun. It’s a destination in itself.

You name it, they can do it to you/for you/any time day or night

The Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun occupies the entire 3 rd floor of the hotel. It comprises a beauty salon (hair, nails, makeup), a spa (facials, bodywork, single-sex relaxation lounges), a fitness center (free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment), and a pool (swimming, treading water, hanging out in the Jacuzzi and showing off your buff bod). All are open from at least 7 in the morning to 10 at night. Nine pm deep cleansing facial? Not a problem. Early morning treadmill workout? Go right ahead.

You can buy anything they use on you right here

Salon-aling along

The salon is full service, and offers a lovely view out to the river. And finally a salon has realized that plopping chairs full of tin-foiled, curler-wrapped, or sopping wet-haired women in front of a window is not appealing to passersby and is embarrassing to those in the chairs; at the Elemis Salon, you have to walk into it in order to see customers being, um, customized.

The Salon - May we be of service?

Work it!

The Cardio/Fitness room was well appointed with treadmills and stationary cycles, all of which had electronically controlled workout choices, and attached to individual televion screens. The free-of-charge headphones (available at the counter) makes it easy to watch whatever channel you want at whatever volume you want.. It was a surprisingly quiet workout space, but I liked that. Watching the Olympic Men's Downhill somehow caused me to burn 123 more calories than usual...

Hello, my name is Antonio. I would be happy
to help you with your workout today.

There was also a goodly amount of weight machinery and free weights, which were mostly occupied by very powerful looking young men with massive pectorals. So that's how they keep their breasts so perky!

The Elemis Fitness Room - full of heart-pumping action!

Everyone into the pyool!

The pool is open to all hotel guests, but with 10,000 square feet of it, you'd hardly notice if everyone actually was in the pool. The glass walls of the room open in the summertime out to the beautiful 6,000 square foot "sun terrace." The pool also has a big jacuzzi and a full bar. I am coming back in the summer if only to see this, since we were there the weekend of the Blizzard of 2006.

Stop pooling around!

Ah, the Spa

The actual spa is really an oasis, since only those who have a treatment scheduled that day or have purchased a day-pass can use it. But the cool thing is, you can use it all day. You can go and come back, or you can just hang out there for the whole day. Even if you don’t get a treatment, I highly recommend getting a day pass; they give you slippers, and a robe, and you can use the whirlpool, steam, and sauna all you want, plus there are reviving beverages in the Relaxation Lounge. I took two whirlpools on the day of my treatment, just because I could.

(Appolgies in advance for the lack of photography of the actual spa, but there were people in there!)

Welcome to the Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun

The spa has a front desk where they check you in (everything is computerized which I liked a lot), and then bring you to the, uh, robe and slipper desk in the appropriate spa (men’s or women’s), where they get you blue rubber slides in your size (they also spray them down between wearers to so that each may keep their fungi to themselves), and the standard waffle-weave one size fits all robe, which for some inexplicable reason had the pockets sewn shut. You are brought by the uh, robe and slipper person into the spa and shown how to use the lockers (you come up with your own key code) and where the things are in the spa.

Welcome to the Men's Spa, may I have your
slipper size, please?

I thought the lockers were too small; they’re those half-size ones, with a little half shelf in them. So don’t bring a coat, and don’t bring your oversize “I-don’t-know-what-I-need-today-so-I’ll-just-bring-everything” bag – you will not be able to put either one in the locker (although I’m sure the front desk has a closet to hang your coat). When I was there (for the second time that day) someone had stashed a HUGE red crocodile-type leather(ish) carryall under the dressing bench; of course, in this post-everything world, I thought that that would be the very place someone would leave a bomb, but then I thought two more things: 1) nobody blows up spas, and 2) that bag is too expensive to be blown up.

The spa is, cozy, and if you are, say, coming from your room on the 20th floor for your 12 o’clock facial, as long as you bring nothing more than perhaps your bathing suit, your makeup bag, and what you’ve got on, everything will be fine. The whole purpose of the spa is relaxation and rejuvenation, after all, what’s the sense of bringing your unpaid bills, your laptop, and the paint swatches for the living room? Just leave it all in your room – your resort room – and come down to the spa with as few physical burdens as you can.

Time for a treat(ment)

The spa has 15 treatment rooms – 12 in the spa itself, three in the salon – and they offer every variation of spa services you couldn’t even think of. Six facials (including one for your back) plus six add-ons, eight types of massages, four baths, salt glows, cellulite treatment, whatever you think you need, you can get it at the Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun.

I got the basic facial. It was basic – no steaming, no galvanic – but it was nice. The lavender (for regenerating the skine), lime (for dull skin), and rosewood (for dry skin) essential oils were lovely. My “provider” was cordial, friendly, and clearly knew her stuff. However, she draped her arm across my shoulders during the walks to and from the treatment room, which I found inappropriate and unnecessary.

If you haven’t had a facial before, I would recommend the basic facial at Elemis; it’s very gentle and won’t freak you out in any way. But if you already get facials somewhere else, go for one of their “signature” treatments that you can’t get at your local salon. Like an exotic lime and ginger salt glow, or a Ceremony of Whirling River, uh, thing. Something that will be memorable.

Flowers, for me? How kind

My very own whirly gig

I didn’t realize that the spa is a spaaaaaaah, and so didn’t bring my bathing suit to it. Which meant, and I’m sorry if this offends your Victorian sensibilities, that I took my whirlpools in the nude. Yep, jes’ me an’ my shadow. I think, because it was the Blizzard of 2006 weekend, that people weren’t in their right minds, because there were far fewer women in the spa than a 98% occupancy rate in the hotel would serve up – I mean really, where are you going to go when you can’t go anywhere? There is a spa onsite, people, you got someplace better? So not only did I take my whirlpool in the buff, I took it by myself. This whirlpools is like a small, round, tiled pool, and you have to walk up a few curving steps (strewn with rose petals, I swear to god) to get into it. It could easily fit 10 women.

The on/off switch is on the wall, so you have to turn it on before you get into the whirlpool, else you have to get out of the whirlpool to turn it on and then get back in to enjoy it. There were two young(er) women in the whirlpool when I got there, and by the time I was ready for the whirlpool they had gotten out, but came back in to ask me how I got “the bubbles to turn on.” I pointed to the appropriately large sign that read “Whirlpool On/Off Switch” which was directly above the, um, whirlpool on/off switch. Really, am I the only who has brought her cereal box-reading skills forward into adulthood?

This is one good whirlpool, ladies, and is worth the price of the day pass alone.

Lots of liquids at the pool (bar)

Relax – just ignore the coffee

The Relaxation lounge is a closed-door space, intended as a waiting room for women about to get treatments and as a quiet, dimly-lit place for, well, quiet, I guess. However, the room was so dim that I had a hard time filling out my info card for my facial.

There is a small glass fronted case filled with juices and water, which is thoughtful, but there was no light in it, so you had to crouch down in front of the case and peer into it to see what was in there. There also was a full pot of coffee warming in the coffee machine, the aroma of which struck me as the opposite of relaxation, unless of course, you are part of the old New Coffee Generation with David Bowie (“It picks you up while it calms you down”). I guess I was expecting lavender, or vetiver, maybe. It’s a minor point, and I know that a lot of those New Yorkers who drive the 135 miles to the resort can’t conceive of coffee not being available after their “Exotic Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap,” so maybe it’s for them…

I did strike up a lovely, albeit whispered, conversation with a very relaxed New Yorker (“I always get one of their massages when I’m here”) in the Relaxation Lounge. She was black, I was white, she was from New York, I am from Boston, we both didn’t win the World Series last year. Her 23 year-old daughter just came back from a seven-month tour of duty (in you know where…) as a Marine sergeant, and this woman admitted that she couldn't really remember any of the last seven months.

If anyone can vouch for the, relaxibility, of the Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun, it is the mother of a female Marine Sergeant.

Shower Up!

There were four showers in the spa, and they curved along the, um, curving wall behind the whirlpool. They had glass doors, the same blue tiling as the trim to the whirlpool, two hooks, four pump bottles of…things you use in the shower, and I stayed a long time in there.

The pump bottles are full of Elemis products, and they were good: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream. Shaving cream! Love it, love it, love it. The shaving cream goes with the disposable razor that they put in each locker (along with a comb and disposable toothbrush that has the toothpaste in the bristle!). I actually plopped (excuse me, that’s not a very relaxing word) a bunch of conditioner on my newly shampooed hair and then plopped myself into the whirlpool for a little multi-tasking. I don’t usually like mint body/hair products, but this one made my hair quite soft.

Bathrooming the spa way

The bathroom/sink area have all the things women need when they are standing over a sink and in front of a mirror: body lotion, liquid soap, mouth wash, Q-tips, hair spray, tampons, hair dryer, tissues. I think, in my next house/life, I am going to have a hair dryer attached to the wall.

The body lotion was Elemis, as was the liquid soap. The mouthwash was minty, the hair spray effective, and the tampons were in the biggest glass apothecary jar I’ve ever seen in my life. Each sink (there were four) had it’s own hair dryer, and the hair dryers were surprisingly good. I actually liked it better than the one I have at home.

That's what I need, four sinks with matching hair dryers

When can I come back?

This was my first experience a Elemis and at Mohegan Sun, and I now have a plan for coming back: win BIG at the slots, take all my winnings, and get three days of Elemis Spa treatments, wearing that tiara I saw in the window of that lingerie shop...

Thank you for coming, we look forward to seeing you again,
Ms. Donovan


The Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun

Spa and salon:

M-Th 7:00am-10:00pm
F-Sun 7:00am-11:00pm

Fitness Center:

M-Th 6:00am-10:00pm
F-Sun 6:00am-11:00pm


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Photography by Wan Chi Lau and Carolyn Donovan