Mouse Massage

by Brian on August 5, 2005

in Only in Israel


My wife Jody and I try to get away for a night without the
kids every so often. It’s not so easy when you
don’t have grandparents living nearby, so it had been several years since our
last romantic getaway and we aimed to make the most of it. Our destination: the
Mitzpe HaYamim spa in Rosh Pina.

Mitzpe HaYamim provides the context for a fabulous respite
from everyday worries. The hotel is situated high up in the hills overlooking
the Hula Valley
and Golan Heights. On a clear day you can see all the
way to the Mount Hermon. One of the spa’s biggest selling points is the Jacuzzi on the roof
with this stunning view.

Mitzpe HaYamim’s expertise is organic luxury. The hotel’s vegetarian
restaurant grows most of its own pesticide-free vegetables; the cheese comes
from goats in the hotel’s onsite farm; the eggs from free range chickens. A
“tea corner” offers up infusions of sage, lavender and wild hyssop. The
homemade walnut ice cream at dessert is simply to die for.

Then there’s the pool – it
has the freshest, least abrasive chlorinated water of any pool
I’ve ever been in. With its exotic cinnamon scented air, it’s almost impossible
not to float away your cares, especially given the ubiquitous signs reading
“please refrain from talking” – something that is definitely not the norm
for pools in Israel.

Before you even arrive, the spa sends
out a book with a long menu of massages with soothing
names such as “Bridge Between Two Seas” (a Feldenkrais-flavored treatment); “Foot
Steps in the Sand” (reflexology); and “Earth Wind and Fire,” a combined massage
mixing Thai, Swedish and a Native American “hot stone” treatment.

It had been eight years since our last trip – way too long,
but given the price of a “spa vacation,” not that supriring either – so
it was with a great deal of anticipation that we made the 3.5 hour
drive from Jerusalem for a mid-week special that included two free
treatments in the regular room price.

As we opened the door to
our room, though, our hearts sank. We remembered from
our previous stay a gorgeous suite with a big king size bed, lovely balcony,
and bathroom with a mosaic floor
channeling 2,000 years of history in the Lower Galilee.

The room revealed in front
of us, however, was small with graying carpets, chipped tiles in the bathroom,
a toilet that wouldn’t stop running and a faint but pervasive smell of smoke.

Jody called the front desk to complain. Dana was apologetic
but firm.

“Those are our most sought after rooms,”
she said unconvincingly. “They’re much more intimate.”

Jody wasn’t buying it. “We’d like to change rooms.”

A few moments of clicking on a keyboard and Dana was back. “I’m sorry; there just
aren’t any other rooms. We’re completely

Jody started to say something but Dana interrupted. “We’ll try to make it up to you,” she said reassuringly.
“We’ll throw in a chupar.”

Now, a chupar is slang in Isarel for a “treat.” A little
something extra. It wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for at that moment, but
maybe it would be OK. How did we know that our chupar would be small, furry
and pink?

But I get ahead of myself.

Before dinner we headed off for our first massage, a
romantic “treatment” we’d booked in the
hotel’s Jasmine Room. Conducted in a separate
building a five minute walk into the woods,
this was everything we’d been waiting for.

A deep Japanese-style bath built for two filled with
herb-infused water – I think there was coconut and rosemary – was waiting for
us. We were to luxuriate there for 15 minutes, then follow up with 45 minutes
of massage at side-by-side tables.

The water was heavenly. We felt like we were in a Richard
movie – the only thing missing was the champagne.

As the healing waters transported
us to another dimension, I spied a slight movement at the far window.

“Did you see that?” I said to Jody.

“What?” Jody asked, still too
immersed in reverie to care about my worries.

“By the curtains,” I said. 

Two eyes, a nose and a long tail poked out and then darted

That caught Jody’s attention.

Now, neither of us is
particularly afraid of mice. But we figured we ought to report it. Health
standards and cleanliness, something like that.

When our two masseuses knocked on the door
to tell us it was time to get out of the bath, we informed them of our

One of the masseuses practically shrieked… it was like in
one of those old cartoons where the
stereotyped housewife is perched on on the kitchen table terrorized by a rodent
running innocently around the floor looking
for some cheese.

“We’re going to have to cancel the massage,” the masseuse
said, breathing heavily.

“What? Why? We don’t mind, really,” I said.

“I am scared to death of mice,” she responded. “I just can’t
do it.”

We climbed out of the tub and put on our robes just in the nick of time before an
army of spa staff barged into our room.

“Why can’t we just move to another room?”
Jody asked.

“Everything is full,” the spa manager said. “We can reschedule
for tomorrow.”

“But we already have massages booked
for tomorrow,” I said.

“Well, how about a credit for another time in the future?”

“It’s been eight years since we’ve come,” Jody growled while
rolling her eyes at the same time (nice trick, honey!). The coconut waters had
definitely worn off by now.

“We will be happy to invite you to the special meal at the Muscat
restaurant,” the hotel’s assistant manager suggested. It was a festive event
with a guest chef from Jerusalem
being held at a separate gourmet restaurant that the hotel runs.

Unfortunately, it
was also totally treife – shellfish, milk and meat together.

“That doesn’t work,” I said thinking about whether we could
just pick the bits of bacon out of the strips of thin entrecote slices…no, no…

“Maybe you can give us a credit on the room,”
Jody said. 

“Yes, we could do that,” came the reply, as if it had never
crossed their minds, It was probably also the last
thing they wanted to do, but they were determined to make good
on our not-so-welcome chupar.

As we walked back to the hotel, I started to grumble. “We
shouldn’t have said anything. Then we would have gotten our massage and no one
would have known the better for it.”

“That would have been even worse,” Jody replied. “What if we were in the
middle of the massage and then the mouse popped out while we were all dripping in oil?”

When we calculated the bill, though, we realized that our little
mouse massage had saved us big time. Our bill, for the room
including the two massages, minus the credit, came to less than 40% of the pre-mouse total. It was a little like getting
voluntarily bumped from a flight. You still get where you’re going, just not
exactly as you’d planned, but you make some extra cash for your troubles.

And although we would have enjoyed the extra massage, saving
several hundred dollars wasn’t too bad an

In fact, next time when we visit Mitzpe HaYamim – hopefully in less
than another eight years – we’ll be looking
for our little mouse friend to help keep costs in line.

Or maybe we’ll even
bring one of our own…

Check out more pictures in the Mitzpe HaYamim photo album.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Anonymous August 15, 2005 at 10:56 pm

Rahel writes:

Rahel writes:

Heh. They should hire some cats.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: