Iam covered with salt from the sea, lying down, warm and relaxed. Eyes closed, I revel in the seaside moment. Nearby, the ocean waves maintain their ceaseless ebb and flow. But I can't hear them. I'm inside.
It's winter. Way too chilly to be lying on the beach in Rehoboth. So I've opted instead for a sea salt treatment and massage at the spa in the luxurious Bellmoor Hotel. When it is over I make my way in slow motion to a fireplace in the lobby. My Gumby limbs and I have the whole room to ourselves. It takes an hour before I can gather the energy to make my way back to the cheaper hotel where I'm actually booked.
Rehoboth draws thousands for its summer sun and sand, but it's now becoming known for its indoor indulgences in the winter. Its spas, salons and fitness studios are the types of extravagances that tend to get left out of our beach days, when indoor fun is often limited to a rainy-day movie. Nor is a warm Jacuzzi soak necessarily appealing on a humid summer night. But on a cold February one? Heaven.
Day spas throughout the town provide for hours of living luxuriously. Boire's, the Spa by the Sea and Made Ya Look offer many types of facials, massages and nail treatments. Some, like the Avenue Inn and Spa, are actually near the sea. Others, such as the Spa by the Sea, are closer to outlet shopping. When staying at the Bellmoor or the Avenue Inn, you can leave your coat in your room because the spas are in or attached to the hotel.
The 50-minute Tropical Glow at the Bellmoor was a change from the Swedish massage I usually choose. The Bellmoor masseuse used sea salts blended with lavender, tangerine and mango body butter to rough up my skin for the exfoliation part. The room filled with music and ersatz ocean sounds. After I showered off the crunchy bits and pieces, shea and cocoa butters were rubbed onto my skin. When it was over, I was left alone in the room to pick myself up and get dressed. I'm just glad I didn't have to operate heavy machinery anytime soon.
When I arrived at the beach the night before, I hadn't had time to settle in at the Avenue Inn before my late afternoon facial appointment. But I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the hotel's complimentary afternoon cheese and wine spread. It was the first time I had ever showed up for a facial with a buzz. I recommend it.
Rehoboth in the off-season is a bit like a spa treatment itself. Everything is mellow. The boardwalk is bare (at least it was before the recent snow), and the beach is perfect for bracing walks. Lingering over a basket of warm muffins at breakfast at Victoria's on the boardwalk, gazing out at the ocean, was almost Zen-like.
Certainly, children don't seem to mind the non-swimming weather. Katie, 7, Alison, 6, and Benjamin, 2, were thrilled to be collecting shells in pails and doing cartwheels while their father held their jackets in a bundle. "They're just happy playing in the sand," said Grant Lee, a Montgomery County police officer.
I was happy in the sand, too, but just as happy in the Jacuzzi at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, where I moved on the second night to have a room with a balcony overlooking the ocean. A winter tip: I booked this primo real estate with a phone call two days earlier for $109. That's well below half the summer rate.
The Jacuzzi is open 24 hours. I found my spot in the bubbles facing east right after the sun was up. It was a perfect morning on the beach, warm and wet. And wintry.