Insider: Mind Body
Published: May 2009
By Wendy Schmid
Truffle masks. Champagne facials. Frangipani creams. Spas around the country are upgrading typical therapies with over-the-top ingredients and ancient techniques
Swedish massages and basic facials can be found on nearly every spa menu, but they're no longer enough to entice savvy spa-goers. The 10 exotic indulgences listed here will impress even the most jaded massage enthusiasts and, with a little imagination, make them feel like royalty.
DEEP SHIATSU BAREFOOT MASSAGE AND HYDROTHERAPY
Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, Maui
Before settling into the tension-relieving massage, guests go through the Termé Wailea Hydrotherapy Circuit, which includes a Roman tub, a cold plunge pool, a Japanese furo bath, and five specialty soaks. During the ensuing 80 or 110 minutes of Barefoot Massage, a therapist hangs from bars installed in the ceiling to balance his weight while he applies varying degrees of foot pressure to taut back muscles. Afterward, the vacation can begin. 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr.; 800/888-6100 or 808/875-1234; www.grandwailea.com; 80 minutes $205, 110 minutes $262; hydrotherapy circuit included.
Lulur Day Spa, West Hollywood, Calif.
In a tiny space on trendy North Robertson Boulevard, skin is buffed with ground rice and turmeric, bathed in yogurt, and cleansed with a Vichy-water shower. To complete the Indonesian ritual, traditionally practiced on brides before their nuptials, the body is massaged with a heady mixture of jasmine oil and frangipani-blossom lotion. 6421/2 N. Robertson Blvd.; 877/885-8587 or 310/659-4100; www.lulurspa.com; $145.
BAGNO DEL LATTE WITH CALIFORNIA HONEY ALMOND SCRUB AND AVOCADO CREAM WRAP
Gaucin at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, Dana Point, Calif.
Visitors cast coins into the Well of Desires, then disrobe to slip into a floral-infused, full-fat latte bath. Gentle scrubbing with organic honey and almonds follows. Next, the California produce theme goes full tilt with a vitamin-rich avocado-cream mask and wrap, a scalp massage, and—after an invigorating rinse—an avocado-oil body massage finale. 1 Monarch Beach Resort; 800/722-1543 or 949/234-3200; www.spagaucin.com; $264.
CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR FACIAL
Dolphin Court Grand Spa at Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas
The massage-intensive facial (feet and hands included) incorporates gentle champagne-enzyme exfoliation, pure caviar-extracted DNA, and a caviar-collagen face mask. Afterward, glasses of bubbly at the hotel bar, Rande Gerber's Whiskey Sky, seem unnecessary. 2300 Paseo Verde; 702/992-9000; www.dolphincourt.com; $150.
TABLE THAI MASSAGE
Centre for Well-Being at the Phoenician, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Phoenician was the first U.S. spa to use this popular Asian massage technique, influenced by Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and long practiced by Buddhist monks. Therapists use their hands, elbows, knees, and legs to gently rock, stretch, and release the flow of energy in the body for 80 sedative minutes. 6000 E. Camelback Rd.; 800/888-8234 or 480/941-8200; www.thephoenician.com; $165.
The Greenhouse, Arlington, Tex.
Every evening, each guest at this white-glove, ladies-only destination spa receives a 20-minute candlelit massage in the privacy of her own suite, and a literal "tuck-in" to bed. Now the Greenhouse has added a Japanese Hinoki tub to its treatment. Before their tuck-in, guests soak in cypress-infused water, then receive a full-body rubdown, which ends with a guarantee of sweet dreams. 817/640-4000; www.thegreenhousespa.net; $195.
MILK PARAFFIN COCOON
Kiva Spa, Chicago
This stylish spa, patterned after the subterranean ceremonial mud-brick structures of the Anasazi Indians, gives stressed-out urbanites a respite from the city with its Milk Paraffin Cocoon. The skin-softening treatment begins with a calming massage, followed by a body-wrap in a blend of shea butter, milk lotion, and moisture-sealing paraffin. Meditating under heat lamps invariably leads to a trancelike state. 196 E. Pearson St.; 888/818-5482 or 312/840-8120; www.kivakiva.com; $125.
Caracalla Spa, Little Rock, Ark.
Little Rock's largest full-service spa was named for the Roman emperor's public baths, which held 3,000 people. Here, however, you can have a pedicure in a room designed for one. Soak tired feet in antiseptic tea-tree oil before dipping them into a milky oatmeal footbath agitated by four massage jets. Fresh lavender and rose petals gathered from Caracalla's garden scent the solution, gently encouraging mind-wandering. What color polish?5715 Kavanaugh Blvd.; 501/280-0866; www.caracalla.com; $55.
Brigitte Mansfield European Day Spa, New York City
On Union Square you'll find the city's most calorie-intensive treatment. A liquid-sugar body exfoliation preps the skin for the soothing body mask. A mixture of warm olive oil; finely ground, mineral-rich truffles; shaved almonds; and melted paraffin is brushed on from neck to toe. It's peeled off to reveal rosy skin ready for a hydrating massage with caviar-cream lotion imported from Germany. 37 Union Square W.; 212/366-0706; www.mansfieldspa.com; $160.
CELESTIAL GARDEN FACIAL
Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, Fla.
Hotel guests who can't drag themselves away from the underwater symphony that plays in the pool bring their sunparched skin to the Palazzo. Hands and feet are massaged with honeydew lotion and slipped inside warm gloves and booties; the face is soothed with an exfoliating tonic of parsley, cucumber, and sweet paprika. Personal attention is the norm: masks made with carrot, peach, pumpkin, and orange are designed for each individual's skin. No tipping necessary, no nibbling allowed. 501 E. Camino Real; 888/498-2622 or 561/447-3000; www. bocaresort.com; $190.
Wendy Schmid is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.