A luxurious full-body treatment at the famous Californian spa.

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After one cancelled flight, one long overnight in the airport, a 4am wake-up call and another flight, a rejuvenating visit to the spa at San Francisco's swank Casa Madrona wasn't just a desire—it was absolutely imperative. I earned this massage and more.

But first, there's one more leg of transit to this earthy coastal spa: a 13-kilometre ferry ride along the bay, colourful birds circling above and sailboats floating along panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, from downtown proper to Sausalito, California. Here, a waterfront community of artsy bohemians turned wealthy homeowners stroll through boutique shops and picnic by the marina. Otis Redding wrote “The Dock of the Bay” here while, um, sitting on the dock of the bay here in 1967.

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Built onto the hill overlooking the water and all with theme and locale in mind, The Spa at Casa Madrona is inspired and designed around their version of the four elements: Shore, for grounding and connection; Sea, to bring pleasure and harmony; Sun for personal power and motivation; and Breeze for intellect and creativity.

Privacy and intimacy are paramount—the Casa Madrona is a celebrity favourite, though despite all my prodding, my esthetician will not name-drop a DiCaprio even once. Five luxe treatment rooms offer a simple menu of perfected treatments. All feature unique from-the-earth features like orange blossom serum, hot basalt stones and sifted jasmine flower petals.

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Desperate for a massage, I look to body therapies, where the 60-minute Rosemary Ocean Body Polish literally calls my name. It's a blend of the massage I crave with the exfoliation my itchy plane skin desperately needs, promising my body and mind will be filled with renewed vigour. (You had me at “rosemary,” I said.)

She begins with a thick ball made of ultra-fine salt polish, made from fossilized salts—from an ancient inland ocean, no less, with 84 elements and minerals said to cleanse my energy field—mixed with rich jojoba oil and, of course, a sprinkling of rosemary leaves. Rosemary stimulates circulation, warms muscles and joints, helps remove toxins from the body and boosts cell metabolism. It's also said to strengthen the mind.

The mixture isn't oily at all; the polish is instead soft and silky, rubbed on my body from the rough bottoms of my feet, along itchy legs, up both arms to the decolletage. The treatment has all the perks of a swedish massage with a much-needed exfoliating scratch. Very satisfying on dry flaking skin, and half-way through I get to turn onto my back and enjoy the process all over again.

Then, since I'm all spiced and salted, I enjoy a piping hot shower that washes the salt away while it opens pores for the final step: a thick application of whipped body butter massaged and absorbed into the skin. It's chocked full of revitalizing essential oils: jojoba to cleanse and soften, lemon to wake and stimulate, chamomile to soothe and ease anxiety and tension.

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Not that I have any of the above at all; it's all sunshine and smiles and street musicians strumming on their guitars outside the Casa Madrona while I wait, calm and tranquil and soft to the touch, for my ferry to arrive and sail me back to real life. Until then, I guess I'll enjoy the view and wait, sitting on the dock of the bay.