Pampering the Spirit and Soul

The Cottages at Charleston Harbor provided the perfect setting for a Lowcountry "Staycation."

Women’s Wellness Weekend redirects those
“stuck on the treadmill of life”

By Abby Deering
Photographs by Michelle Bolton

When Kim Powell sets her mind on something, she gets it done. After many visits to Charleston, South Carolina, she noticed a lack of luxury spas. So when she moved to the city three years ago, she decided, without a single friend or connection, to bring The Woodhouse Day Spa concept to the area. She became a regional director and bought the rights to all of South Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; Savannah and Augusta, Georgia; and Jacksonville, Florida. The Woodhouse Day Spa Charleston is her flagship store, and at 9,000 square feet, it’s the largest Woodhouse Day Spa in the country.

Although Powell is in the business of relaxation, transforming a 2.5-acre building site into a luxury spa is no easy feat.

“After getting to know my guests better, I realized that there are a lot of women who are stuck on the treadmill of life and in dire need of some real downtime,” she said.  “We all need time for ourselves — to connect with others, dream a little dream, nourish our spirit and soothe our souls.”

That’s when her next idea struck her: why not bring the experience of a luxury wellness retreat to Charleston? Charleston is an area already known for its many places of refuge and tranquility. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to seek them out.

Powell started creating the ultimate seaside staycation, and immediately she had a special place in mind: The Cottages on Charleston Harbor.

Rise and shine: Each morning started with a poolside yoga session.

Within a year of setting out to organize the inaugural Women’s Wellness Weekend, the first attendees were arriving for the four-day sojourn.

The women checked into the seaside cottages, each with its own oceanfront bedroom, private en-suite bathroom and French doors to a screened-in patio. In addition to a welcome bag replete with a yoga mat and other essentials for the weekend, each guest had a monogrammed robe hanging on her guest room door and a beautiful pair of PJ Harlow pajamas on her bed, wrapped with a bow and name tag.

The mornings started with coffee and a chat with Lisa Burbage, a wellness expert and speaker who offered guidance to the women on making positive changes in their lives. This was followed by a yoga session with the incredible Isabel Skovgaard Shankle, who has 40 years’ experience and training with yoga masters from around the world.

In the evening, the group unwinds with music from Finnegan Bell.

Lunch was delivered in a beautiful basket to the cottages with a special daily gift — a book from a local author, a piece of jewelry made with intention — and guests were invited to eat lunch poolside.

There was a range of activities in the afternoon, from guided meditation to a complimentary Dysport and non-surgical solutions conversation with Lowcountry Plastic Surgery to a unique phototherapy and vision workshop sessions led by Katherine Leonard.

In the evenings, a cocktail/mocktail hour with live music from Finnegan Bell offered “a welcomed break from the serious business of relaxing.”

Each evening a woman of distinction was invited to speak, joining the group for a private fireside dinner.  This year’s distinguished guests were Julianne Taylor of Taylor Burke Home, Susan Hull Walker of Ibu Movement and ELYSIAN Publisher Karen Floyd. Chef Laurie Erickson, formerly of the esteemed Canyon Ranch, wowed guests with a nightly menu of beautifully prepared (and healthy) dishes.

Chef Laurie Erickson wowed the guests each night with her culinary creations.

For the grand finale on Sunday, guests were treated to a private Pure Barre class in Mt. Pleasant followed by a full spa day at The Woodhouse Day Spa Charleston.  No expenses were spared. In addition to a full range of treatments, (the spa offers 72 services, from manicures to massages), the nail room was transformed into a meditation room, with four custom-recorded guided meditations for the guests to enjoy and take home as well. Susanne Norwitz, creator and founder of Maya Chia Beauty, was on hand throughout the day, and she created a signature blend of her balm for each guest to take home. Each guest also enjoyed a Maya Chia Facial. (Woodhouse Day Spa has the only Maya Chia Facial in the world, so it was a special treat to have her there.) Sarah Bradford, of HERD Provisions and Butcher Shop, was also present to share her amazing story and healthy beef carpaccio. Woodhouse Day Spa’s Cheryl Quinn led make-up demonstrations and makeovers, and each guest also received a Jane Iredale gift bag to take home and continue the weekend.

It was a full day of pampering — a perfect end to a weekend that was beyond restorative. It was transformative. All of the women left the experience refreshed with a renewed sense of purpose. Friendships were formed, memories sustained, and inspirations gleaned. Each of the women has already signed on for the next year.

The Cottages at Charleston Harbor provided the perfect setting for a Lowcountry “Staycation.”

And what’s next for Powell? She recently launched a luxury home fragrance and candle line, 1670 Charlestowne. Along with her business partner, Cara Florence, she has teamed up with world-renowned fragrance designer Frederick Bouchardy to create “Sweetgrass,” their first signature scent. Look out for their second scent, “A Charleston Wedding,” debuting later this spring. A percentage of the proceeds benefit the International African American Museum.  E

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