Winter Is the Best Time to Get a Wrap at a Classic Northwest Spa

Because who doesn’t like warm hugs?

By Margaret Seiler January 28, 2016

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Hotel St. Martin in Carson, Oregon

In the dead of winter, anyone can use an all-enveloping assault of warmth with just the right amount of pressure. Ideally, you’d have a cuddly bear waiting at home with arms wide open (or even just a faux-bear-skin rug), you’re able to drop everything and fly across the country to snuggle with goats, or your friends got the hint and gave you a professional-cuddling gift certificate for Christmas. If you’re in a none-of-the-above situation, we've got the solution: a hot wrap.

You can go DIY and stick some blankets in a warm oven or hot dryer, and then attempt to roll yourself up in them. Or you can let a pro do it. Plenty of spas in town can have you wrapped, unwrapped, and back to work/school/life pronto. Highly recommended: play hooky, get just far enough away to have a buffer to the city’s bustle, and make a day of it. Here are two spots within an hour’s drive, one regal, one rustic.

1. Hot Oil Herbal Rhapsody at the Allison Inn & Spa

After hanging your robe on warming rack (in a different setting, I’d wonder if it was a sex grab bar) and settling onto a massage table, you get sloughed with scrub gloves, rubbed with warm oils, wrapped up Laura Palmer-style in a plastic sheet, covered in hot towels, and snuggly rolled in a foil-lined tarp. A scalp and foot massage follows, and then you’re left alone in a sea of soft light and soothing music, to doze off or simply contemplate life as a human burrito. After you exit the tortilla, the Allison eases the transition back to the real world with a lounge stocked with Smith teas and back issues of American Spa magazine, a dry sauna (fittingly populated on my visit with Russian speakers), a steam chamber, and roomy showers. $130 for 60 minutes, $175 for 90 minutes, prices include gratuity

On your way back: This is wine country, so keep your butt in the lap of luxury just a little bit longer with a stop upstairs in the Allison’s Jory restaurant, where the bartender will be happy to recommend the perfect glass. 

2. Bath + Wrap at Carson Hot Springs Resort

The “resort” part of the name generally refers to the modern restaurant and golf course just up the hill. The old Hotel St. Martin bathhouse where one takes the waters is a bare-bones, time-warp affair. Lying in the single-sex tub room behind a privacy curtain, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the TB ward of an Appalachian sanatorium in the 1920s—in the best way. After a sulfur-y soak, the blanket wrap comes in loose, medium, and tight, arms in or out, and you’re left to sweat and doze. There’s no pre-wrap massage to turn your brain to mush (though you can schedule one post-wrap), so your mind can drift from epiphany to epiphany. (For me, it was that Turner & Hooch is really a remake of Witness, with a dog instead of little Lukas Haas—right?! Deep thoughts.) $20–30, 25-minute soak followed by 25-minute wrap

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On your way back: If the weather’s nice, cross into Oregon at Cascade Locks and have a pint at Thunder Island Brewing, with an outdoor patio perched over the river and a mellow soundtrack from passing trains. If it’s dreary out, take Washington’s Highway 14 to the Washougal industrial port area, and wind through the warehouses until you find 54˚40’ Brewing, with its welcoming fireplace and oversize “Crowler” cans to go.

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