Walking up the shrub- and tree-lined path that leads to F. Joseph Smith's Massage Therapy Center, tugged along by the fresh air and fragrance of flowers, it?s easy to forget that you're only minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Miles of walking trails and bike paths crisscross Mill Valley and the nearby slopes of Mount Tamalpais, cutting out the remnants of the city and setting the scene for total relaxation. While providing further privacy, the walls around each hot tub allow bubble-bound guests a view of this peace and the surrounding redwood trees. These ancient kings seem to refute the existence of time, as does a soothing session in the cedar or infrared sauna, some reflective time beneath a vine-covered trellis in the outdoor meditation area, or a companion with a broken watch.
But founder Joseph Smith believes that no matter how beautiful he makes the center, it is the skill and experience of his staff that is of the utmost importance. The massage teacher?who has been practicing since 1974 and developed a bodywork method he calls Smithing?handpicks muscle menders based on a careful evaluation of their abilities, including their knowledge of advanced modalities such as lymphatic, shiatsu, and acupressure massage. To further promote wellness, Smith has selected experts in acupuncture and herbal medicine and aesthetic treatments, and the center also sells crystals, whose hollow interiors sparkle throughout the scenic grounds.