November/December  2005 



majestic-T2The hot springs that feed the bathhouse at the Majestic Hotel, Resort and Spa have been flowing for thousands of years, and the Majestic bathhouse has been around for more than a century. While the Majestic bathhouse still carries the charm of days gone by, it is now located within a newly updated Spa facility that bridges the best of the old and new worlds.

To fully experience all that the Majestic had to offer, I signed up for “The Works,” a thermal mineral bath, hot packs and a 20-minute Swedish massage. Upon entering the women’s bathhouse changing room and stowing my street clothes, I was wrapped in an oversized cotton sheet, modestly draped over both shoulders like a toga. While many spas use traditional bathrobes or terry wraps, this sheet was the perfect cover up, just right for a warm June morning. The sheet worked just fine for bathers at the turn of the century and it continues to work well today.

Escorted into the bathhouse, I met Glenda, my attendant and she brought me into one of the several private bathtub chambers. I stepped into the deep porcelain tub filled to the brim with freshly drawn, piping hot mineral water and Glenda turned on the jet to create a steaming whirlpool. After a stimulating loofa scrub of my arms, back and legs, and a cup of the mineral water to drink, I was left to relax for 15 minutes or more.

The bathhouse is nestled in the Ouachita Mountains and surrounded by the Hot Springs National Park. The Majestic is one of only two hotels in the area that taps directly into the hot and cold springs. The water itself is odorless, tasteless and colorless but is high in minerals such as bicarbonate, calcium and silica that dissolve from rocks thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface.

majestic-1“The waters have been used in holistic healing forever and we see value in the healing powers that come from the mind/body/spirit approach to health,” said Catherine Marlowe, spa director for the Majestic and a licensed practicing masseuse. “Beyond the bathhouse are the nearby hiking trails and the peaceful nature of our surrounding countryside that all contribute to the wellness of our guests.”

Glenda checked on me periodically, and when it was time to move to the pack tables, she reassembled my toga and gently steered me to one of the upholstered chaises that were lined up in between the rows of bathing chambers. Warm heat packs were applied to my neck, feet and hands and a cool cloth to my eyes. I was left to quietly lounge for 15 minutes and bask in the heat and enjoy the lazy feeling one gets from a leisurely bath.

Next stop was a brief but refreshing multi-headed shower and then on to the cooling room, similar to what might be called a relaxation room in other spas. The lazily rotating fans, the white louver shuttered windows, the cool cement floors and the wicker chaise lounges were a wonderful transition from the steamy bathing rooms. After a few moments of relaxation, it was on to the bathhouse massage room for a brief but enjoyable 20-minute massage.

The Majestic uses its own custom-created massage lotion from their “Joy” Spa Formula line; it may have just been the Southern heat and majestic-3the ambiance of the bathhouse, but the lotion reminded me of the texture of magnolia blossoms, light and silky. Key ingredients are the local mineral water and vitamin E, designed to hydrate and rejuvenate.

The communal nature of the bathhouse makes this spa experience unique. The pack tables are comfortably arranged side by side; the marble walls of the bathing chambers do not reach all the way to the ceiling; even the massage tables are only separated by drapes. This setup this allows the splash of the water to be heard and the pleasant wisps of conversation of the attendants to carry from one chamber to the next. While each individual’s privacy was respected, the bathhouse’s relaxed communal nature made for a pleasant and memorable experience.

The Majestic also has the usual spa facilities: several private massage rooms, a salon area with hair and makeup stations, two manicure stations, one pedicure chair and a large, airy yoga room that can double as a

majestic-grifGriffin, my pre-teen son, received "The Works," which included the bath, heat packs, and massage. He was escorted by Gyula, the yoga master at The Majestic, through the cycle of services. Gyula commented that he felt Griffin was a yoga master in a former life and invited both of us to his afternoon class. This was Griffin's first spa experience and a wonderful introduction to the benefits of spa treatments.

Griffin commented, “The people at The Majestic were very good at respecting my privacy. They had very relaxing thermal baths. They actually do use the natural spring water for the thermal baths and for drinking water in the spa. After you are in the thermal bath you will be wrapped in a sheet to sweat. Then you take a shower for about five minutes and you are put in the cooling room. There is water in the cooling room too; once you are cool enough you are sent to the massage therapy room. The massage therapist I had was old and very kind.

The Majestic has more than just thermal baths and that sort of thing. There is also a yoga class though by Mr.Gyula who is a very kind and old teacher." If you can't do the stretch, visualize it first," he says.

couples’ massage room. In addition, facials and body care services are offered. One of the Majestic’s greatest assets is their staff of 30 well-trained and highly loyal therapists and estheticians, some of whom have been with the spa for decades.

“We’ve kept up the old traditions and added the latest in services. We’re the spa that everyone can come to and enjoy without spending a fortune,” added Marlow. “We want our guests to feel welcome and want to come back.”

After my bathhouse experience I was treated to a makeup session with Catherine, using the spa’s preferred make up line, Jane Iredale. This line, originally created for use on movie sets, is known for its mineral basis, which allows the makeup to be used on newly healing skin. Catherine barely needed to use the make up lights, as the warm Arkansas sunlight provided plenty of natural light. The makeover was phenomenal; it was not an obvious transformation, but a wonderfully subtle enhancement that I would be comfortable with wearing everyday.

The highlight of the afternoon was a yoga class with Gyula, a highly trained and very flexible yoga instructor who led our small group of novices through an hour of stretches and poses, explaining each movement and working to get our energies in line. He was warm-hearted and helpful – and most of all tolerant of our less than limber bodies. He shared entertaining and enlightening stories behind the movements to help us visualize what we were doing. Private and group yoga classes can be arranged and I would highly recommend his class.

majestic-2The Spa can accommodate 300 guests on a busy day and summer appointments book up quickly. “The fall is the hidden gem in this part of Arkansas,” added Marlowe. “Traditionally October was considered the ‘bathing month,’ and the hiking trails and colors that time of year are not to be missed.”

The Spa can accommodate groups, couples and parties. A 50-minute Swedish massage is $60 and Pevonia Facials are modestly priced between $35 for a 25-minute mini-facial and $85 for a 50-minute Essential facial. The body care treatments include Austrian Moor Wraps at $70 and scrubs and masks ranging from $40 to $70. More information about the Majestic Spa is available at: or by calling 501-609-5380.




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