Consider this a strong recommendation: Take I-35 south about an hour from Oklahoma City, turn left and before long you’ll see a copper-domed castle rise up from the horizon in this charmingly odiferous, quintessential Oklahoma small town. The castle is the magnificent Artesian Hotel and Casino, and the cute little town is Sulphur.
The Artesian and its wonderful spa, Sole’renity, will wine you, dine you, massage you, pamper you and relax you – so much so that later, as you roam the wide corridors of the hotel, perhaps on your way to the Bath House for a soak, you may find yourself wondering just where in the heck you are. The luxury is seamless. The views are beautiful, and many rooms come with cozy, curtained window seats. They’re perfect for napping, reading or just watching hawks circle and dip, high above the wilderness preserve just across the street.
Our recent visit began in Sole’renity Spa, housed in the Artesian along with children’s spa Little Soles. “I feel very humbled to be working alongside the Chickasaw Nation here at the Artesian,” says owner Rhonda Mordecai, who has been in the beauty and wellness business for 30 years. “We are proud to have been named one of the Top Ten Family Spas in the country by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.”
The grown-up spa offers a full slate of body treatments, and Mordecai says Sole’renity soon will branch into medical spa services, as well. “We are currently searching for our medical director, and soon we will be able to offer our clients things like laser treatments, Botox and fillers like Juvederm.”
For us, the order of the day was a full-body detoxifying mud wrap. After checking in and filling out a short questionnaire, guests are led back to the women’s lounge. There they’ll find rows of lockers with thick white robes and slippers, a sauna and steam room, showers and an outer vestibule with cozy plush lounge chairs, soft lighting, fruited water and toasted nuts and dried fruit for snacking.
Guests are gently led back to treatment rooms, and that’s when the good stuff happens. A mud wrap involves stripping down to some strategically placed towels and lying on a padded, heated table while an aesthetician applies a layer of warm, fragrant mud to your body with a wide paintbrush. The mud is warm and soothing, and as each limb is coated, it’s wrapped in plastic.
After that, you’re swaddled in warm blankets and the attendant massages your head, face and feet. It’s heaven. About 45 minutes later, the mud is wiped off with warm towels, limb by limb, and thick, moisturizing buttercream is slathered on. It’s over so much sooner than you want it to be.
What a great idea for Mother’s Day. Or graduation. Or a birthday. Pack up the kids and the husband (or don’t), and book a spa day for everyone. We cannot recommend it highly enough.
From the “When in Rome” Files
Guess how Sulphur got its name: Natural mineral springs bubble forth from the ground here, and their predominant extra ingredient is our unsubtle yellow friend, sulfur. On your way out of town, pick up a few gallon jugs and fill them with Sulphur water at the spring. Why? It’s great to wash your face with because it boosts collagen and tones down Rosacea. For realz.
Stroll around the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, snap a few selfies in front of the “Little Niagara” and, if you’re so inclined, take a dip in the swimming hole. Whatever you do, be sure to work up an appetite.
Then, drive a couple of blocks west and turn left at Poor Girls Café. Don’t worry about what the building looks like, go in anyway. Inside you will find delicious, home-style food – like from the home of your creamiest, gravy-filled fantasies – and a friendly camaraderie among the other diners and the staff. They don’t miss a trick, and pegged us for, among other things, wanting milk in our coffee instead of the powder the second we walked in. The vegetable omelets were served Boston-style, along with more hashbrowns than you should have in one sitting and a choice of biscuits, toast or pancakes. No pancakes if the place is too busy, though. House rule.