Excelsior Springs, Missouri

Photo: The Elms Hotel & Spa
Photo: The Elms Hotel & Spa

You’ve been busy trying to find prefect presents for your family and friends. You’ve scoured the internet, run to stores all over town, and wrapped everything in festive paper. Despite being exhausted, that’s only the beginning. Soon the cooking, the baking, and the parties will begin. If you could just squeeze in a little bit of you time, you might be able to maintain your sanity until January.

Most likely, you have either a few extra vacation days or an unused personal day stashed away. Don’t let them go to waste. Instead, book a night at the Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. The historic hotel–it’s more than 125 years old–is an easy drive from Kansas City, Des Moines, and St. Louis. The area first became popular when its mineral water was found to have restorative properties; Civil War veterans healed their wounds in the natural springs. The hotel was built soon thereafter.

The hotel’s classically decorated rooms have soothing turquoise-colored accents and modern necessities like an iPod dock, a Keurig coffee maker, and Aveda products. The grounds have extensive gardens, relaxation pools, and a fire pit. But your focus is elsewhere. You’re here to relax.

Photo: The Elms Hotel & Spa
Photo: The Elms Hotel & Spa

Spend the morning at the Spa at the Elms, one of the largest spas in the Midwest. Arrive early to enjoy the Grotto, the Roman bath-inspired facility with a dry sauna, a cold plunge shower, and a hot tub. Prepare your skin for your upcoming treatments with sea salts and essential oils at the exfoliation bar. Your most difficult decision of the day: a Vichy shower massage under warm water, a rose petal salt scrub to smooth and soften your skin, or an orange and linden blossom bath to reduce stress and tension. With nothing pressing on your itinerary, you should treat yourself to two treatments. At least.

Feeling energized? If your legs don’t feel like jello, follow the Lake Trail at Watkins Woolen Mill State Park. Geese–and maybe even a bald eagle–fly over the just-starting-to-freeze lake. Visit wineries to taste Missouri wine for the first time. Van Till Family Farm & Winery has a picturesque setting and Norton wine, the state’s official grape. Or Fence Stile Vineyards has a Fire Pit red blend to sip overlooking the vineyards.

Return to the hotel for dinner at 88 at the Elms. Start with pan-roasted beets with goat cheese or smoked squash with pumpkin seeds. Order a Boulevard Nutcracker Ale. Move on to sous-vide salmon with blackberry quinoa. And for once, don’t pass on the dessert menu. You’ll be working hard to pamper everyone else in the next few weeks. Sit back, relax, and let everything be taken care of for once.

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