Fresh from the Garden


Organic kitchen gardens at resorts, inns, and spas are attracting more than bees, butterflies, and chefs scouting for ingredients for their daily menu.

Spa guests are enjoying fresh, homegrown herbs and plants in a new and equally delicious way. Going organic is not just about what we put into our bodies; it’s about what we put onto our bodies, too. It is also about not using fuel to transport products across the country when local resources are at hand.

Lake Austin Spa has had a director of flora and fauna for years: Nature is a big part of who we are and what we do,  says Trisha Shirey. Many of our guests live in high rises and don’t garden or have a chance to be out in nature.  Getting closer to the earth and its abundant gifts always inspires and relaxes, but some plants have a special role. Rosemary tends to be the most popular herb for guests,  says Shirey. It’s invigorating and refreshing. Lavender is more relaxing, an alpha wave stimulant. Sage has an antiseptic quality and can be warming and stimulating, whereas chamomile is calming and soothing. 

Not surprisingly, the spas that make the most of their gardens are typically in warmer climates. But other locations may have greenhouses or store dried ingredients for year-round use. Follow your nose for a fragrant and healing massage, wrap, or facial at these garden spas.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Austin, Texas

Landscape Style The spa, with typical Texas‚  flair,‚  is‚  huge‚  (25,000-square-feet). Built with sustainable materials, the native limestone was quarried in the Austin area so it didn’t have to be transported a long distance; in addition, cedar wood was cut, harvested, and milled in the area.

The Garden Path Vases of rosemary, lavender, and lemon verbena rest on carts in the hallway outside treatment rooms where spa staff grind and mix them on the spot with sea salts for exfoliation or with oils for massage. The Gifts of Our Garden treatment, which includes an exfoliation, shower, massage, and body wrap, uses herbs from a garden just steps from the spa door.

Bouquet With more wildflowers than many botanical gardens, there’s a fragrance for every season and time of day. Brugmansia’s huge bell-shaped flowers release fragrance and pollen at night.

Planting a Seed On Wednesday morning garden tours you can collect seeds and cuttings for your garden at home. Make dream pillows, herbal swags or potpourri out of dried herbs and seeds.

Contact (800) 847-5637,

Aroma Spa, Hotel Esencia

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Landscape Style The 2,500-square-foot Palapa-roofed spa was whitewashed with milk of Nopales (a type of cactus). Two Mayan-style domed steam rooms and a beachside temazcal (Mayan sauna) are also featured. Treatments are performed in open-air cabins.

The Garden Path Aroma’s phytotherapy rituals reflect the location’s ancient Mesoamerican culture, using produce, herbs, and flowers from local and onsite gardens. Citrus fruits absorb toxins and muscular aches. Banana leaves provide soothing body wraps.

Bouquet Magical Aroma sessions offer potions to enhance Love (rose, bergamot, and orange), Health (tea tree, lavender, and jasmine), Harmony (incense, cedar, and lavender), and Inspiration (rosemary, jasmine, and cypress). And fragrance fills the room when a bundle of rosemary is used as a body brush.

Planting a Seed Take away any of the homemade products from your service (for example, a mojito, yogurt, and flower exfoliant) as well as spa recipes.

Contact (713) 528-3490,

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa

Ojai, California

Landscape Style Lots of Birds of Paradise, among the palms, cactus, and roses, surround this 31,000-square-foot spa. Check out the lightly draped cabanas in the garden.

The Garden Path You can smell the citrus groves on the oak-lined road to the spa, but the scent of five acres of lavender predominates as spa technicians grind the buds for use in the Lavender Body Scrub and Lavender Relaxation Wrap. There’s lavender shampoo and lavender and orange body wash, not to mention a lavender cheesecake, lavender iced tea, and a lavender martini.

Bouquet Chefs and spa staff buzz around the three-acre herb garden like bees, plucking rosemary, basil, lemongrass, thyme, sage, and tarragon for daily menu dishes and services.

Planting a Seed Customize spa products at the Artist’s Cottage and Apothecary, choosing from a variety of herbs picked from the garden. Invent a scent, or take home a floral water distillate or‚ ‚  hydrosol for a pillow spritz. Your recipe is kept on file so you can always request a fresh supply.

Contact (805) 646-1111,

Linden Spa, Inn at Perry Cabin

St. Michaels, Maryland

Landscape Style The 6,000-square-foot spa is on an estate where gardens “including an English kitchen garden, woodland garden, wetland garden with native grasses to attracts birds and wildlife, a cutting garden for seasonal plantings, and a greenhouse are a major focal point. The flowers and herbs used in treatments are planted outside the relaxation room of the spa.

The Garden Path Inspired by the natural healing qualities of the Linden leaf, Linden Spa uses herbs and local botanicals in spa treatments based on the traditions of colonial apothecaries. The Linden Ritual body wrap, which detoxifies with an infusion of linden flowers, black birch, sage, blackberry leaves, eucalyptus and rosemary, is followed by a local salt and linden flower honey scrub.

Bouquet The grounds are an outdoor apothecary, and herbal scents predominate unless the linden trees are in bloom, emitting a honeysuckle aroma.

Planting a Seed Guests leave with mixtures for poultices and recipes for at-home remedies like Tub Tea, a soothing mixture of ginger root, green tea, and organic oatmeal for sunburn or itchy winter skin.

Contact (410) 745-2200,

Glen Ivy Spa

Corona, California

Landscape Style‚  Glen Ivy’s palm trees conjure up the image of a mirage, which is what people must have thought as they approached the healing waters in the 1800s.

The Garden Path Although this day spa is the equivalent of a spa-musement park “the idea of Glen Ivy (a spa since 1860) has always been to use the natural healing power of the hot springs. On-site mineral spring water is blended with indigenous botanicals to create combinations like eucalyptus and lavender for rejuvenating treatments, and jasmine and ginger for refreshing therapies.

Bouquet Have your massage under a 200-year-old oak tree and breathe in the aromas of sage, olive trees, and orange blossoms.

Plant a Seed The full line of body products made on property and used in services is available at the Glen Ivy website.

Contact (888) 453-6489,

Healing Lifestyles & Spas Team
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