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Feeling babied at Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

The 50-minute Heaven in a Hammock treatment, one of the services available from the hotel’s spa.
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"What you experience is going to be different from what the last person experienced," massage therapist Stacy Myers whispered to me inside a spa treatment room at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.


The room is unlike any of the spa's other 25 treatment rooms. Here, the soundtrack is different, with its ocean waves and otherworldly ambient sounds. Instead of dimmed lights, small, colorful, star-like glows illuminate the ceiling. There also isn't a massage table. From the ceiling hangs a hammock.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Heaven in a Hammock ($190) is a 50-minute signature spa experience, though in my experience it felt like five.

"It's not a traditional massage," said Gary Varden, director of spa and recreation. "It's an intuitive treatment."

Picture being cradled in a hammock that is as soft and beautiful as a Missoni crochet knit dress. "I'm going to ask you to do the best you can to go away and enjoy the experience. If you find yourself drifting, follow it," said Myers before I got into what felt like a cocoon suspended from the ceiling. "Just go. Give this gift to you."

A deluxe oceanview terrace suite at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
A deluxe oceanview terrace suite at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

There are only a few therapists who are trained to do this service, which combines energy work, reflexology and gentle rocking. Myers, a spa treatment supervisor, has been at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for 16 years and helped create the experience. "We want to keep the treatment the way it was intended to be done; it's not swinging in a hammock," Varden said. The treatment has a specific outcome in mind: to take the person back to a womblike existence.

Guests are advised to wear loose-fitting clothing, because among the modalities used is stretching. Throughout the experience, eyes are covered with goggles designed to soothe and restore dry, tired eyes. Beneath the hammock are plush pillows on which the therapist is able to lay on her back below the guest, and use her hands and feet to carry out touch therapy. Since you're not on a traditional massage table, there are no restrictions, Myers explained.

"It's Watsu out of the water," Varden said, referring to a form of body therapy that's done in a heated, shallow pool.

The treatment is recommended as an add-on to a massage. "The massage is structural work; this is more of the energy work," Varden said. "After a massage, it's a great cool-down period to center yourself."

The spa's other offerings include the 100-minute Ocean Healing treatment ($335), which begins with a salt immersion soak in a hydrotherapy tub, exfoliation and a Himalayan salt stone massage.

The spa, which has Himalayan salt foot detox lamps throughout the facility, offers another popular body service: the Honey Butter Wrap. The 120-minute treatment incorporates honey from the resort's hives for a full-body exfoliation and wrap. The service ($365) also includes a Vichy shower and full-body massage. It's no surprise that guests of the spa spend on average four to five hours here.

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