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New decadence at the old inn

Each guest gets to be clad in a fluffy black robe and gold slippers



Even in San Luis Obispo, a place so sumptuous that people come from everywhere to bask in the mild weather and taste the local flavors, a person could occasionally feel they need a vacation from this perennial holiday. Of course, locals know countless ways to get away, without actually leaving. In that spirit, consider one more—perhaps the best trip in SLO, within the shortest drive.

Perched in the hills above San Luis Obispo, The Spa at Madonna Inn, is everything a local resort should be; relaxing, refreshing, time stopping, and nothing that it shouldn’t be—namely, pink. While the Madonna brand and motif prevails—elaborate, over-the-top detailing, more gold than a Catholic Church, and enthusiasm for creating truly unique spaces. The Spa is something a little different.

RELAX AND ENJOY :  Soak in the hot tub, dip in the pool, and have a massage at the fabulous Madonna Inn spa. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • RELAX AND ENJOY : Soak in the hot tub, dip in the pool, and have a massage at the fabulous Madonna Inn spa.

A Madonna spa experience should begin at least half an hour before indulging in one of their massages or facials, with a custom body scrub, in flavors like caf» latte. But really, partakers are encouraged to come earlier and enjoy a soak in the sun, or the edgeless pool overlooking the valley.

Each guest gets a fluffy black robe and gold slippers to plod around in before one of the treatments, and each of the lavish waiting rooms are stocked with piles of fresh fruit, flowers, and refreshments. The facility has three massage rooms (one for couples,) and a separate room for facials, peels, waxing, and natural clay masks. Even the Madonna Inn, it seems, has caught the “green” bug at the spa. Each of the three specialized facials features Naturopathica “holistic” skin products, as does the assortment of peels and other facial tune-ups.


Soft blue light seeps from beneath the boarders of dropped-ceiling massage rooms, and gives them a more relaxing air than most of the spa. Acoustically, the place has a quiet scuffle of a library, beneath deliberate mood music. There are deep-tissue and signature massages costing about $110 for an hour, or $165 for 90 minutes. It’s not relaxing on the cheap, but if you take advantage of the pool and Jacuzzi, as well as numerous other amenities, it’s almost a bargain.

When the whole event is over, The Spa offers a quiet place for a cup of tea and the most delicious fluffy midrange-raspberry cookies. The staff is skilled and accommodating, and each of the massage therapists, as well as the aestheticians, are experienced and certified in their field.

The Spa is located just up the hill from the Madonna Inn, near the pool. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or come see the newest wing of the inn on Sept. 4, at the open house. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 543-3000, Ext. 474.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week’s strokes and plugs. Send your business news to

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