Transform a run-of-the-mill spa day into a spa adventure. Spas across the country are making this easier to do, with options that often go beyond the familiar massages and manicures. These are the treatments that feature a little something extra, designed to enhance your R&R and inevitably inspire your friends, to enviously comment, “Wow, I want to try that.” Here are just a few to consider.
MSYRZ Spa Treatment Room. Photo courtesy of Ritz New Orleans
VOODOO RITUAL MASSAGE
Certain destinations have a cultural legacy that finds its way into the local spa treatments—and in this author’s humble opinion, it’s worth seeking these out because you’re unlikely to find them anywhere else in the world. One such example is the Voodoo Ritual Massage offered at the Ritz-Carlton Spa in New Orleans. As the name implies, it incorporates voodoo-inspired elements into the multisensory massage experience. Indigenous Haitian voodoo drumming music accompanies a massage with herbal poultice balls, and the room is bathed in mystical scents of absinthe, bourbon, moss, vetiver, and black cypress. For those who keep an open mind, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that’s luxurious and relaxing.
Chocolate Treatment. Photo courtesy of The Spa At The Hotel Hershey
WHIPPED COCOA BATH & CHOCOLATE WRAP
Sweet tooths, listen up: This might be the yummiest spa treatment in the world, literally. The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, located in the Pennsylvania home of chocolate magnate Milton Hershey, offers a decadent soak in a tub of foaming chocolate milk. The spa menu also includes chocolate body wraps, cocoa massages and cocoa facials. (The mask, by the way, is 100% edible.) The key ingredient in them all is—you guessed it—cocoa. According to the spa, cocoa is rich in antioxidants, detoxifies the skin, and promotes optimal skin health by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.
The Waiting room. Photo courtesy of La Prairie Spa The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
The La Prairie Spa, with locations in New York City and Beverly Hills, draws upon what it calls “breakthrough caviar science” to offer a facial that features a delicacy normally found on the wealthiest of dinner tables. Its caviar facial is a decadent, skin-nourishing experience that features caviar pearls plus a caviar-infused face and eye massage. La Prairie spa representatives say that the caviar extract in their specially designed formula is nutrient-rich and will help to lift and firm skin, restore the appearance of elasticity and tone, and smooth and refine skin texture. You’d be following in the footsteps of a superhero (at least, on the big screen) by splurging on this facial: Chris Pratt (who plays Star-Lord in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise) raved about it after his spa experience.
CBD is one of the trendiest ingredients you’ll see nowadays, incorporated into everything from iced lattes to dog treats. No surprise, it’s found its way into spa treatments, too. CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is non-psychoactive and found in high concentrations in cannabis and hemp. (Don’t confuse it with THC, which is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant associated with that “high” feeling.) Incorporating CBD-infused oils and creams into spa treatments has reported benefits that include helping to sooth aches and pains caused by arthritis, injury, chronic pain, and stress. The Miami Beach EDITION offers several CBD-centric treatments, including the CBD Healing Wave, which combines soothing bio-wave technology with a CBD oil massage.
If Gwyneth Paltrow puts her stamp of approval on a spa experience, you know legions of women will seek it out. So, when the Goop-founder recommended vagina steaming, also known as a v-steam, to give the vagina and uterus some TLC, suddenly this little-known treatment gained popularity. Long before Hollywood made it famous, however, vaginal steaming was an age-old remedy in Korea said to cleanse the vagina and uterus, regulate menstruation, and ease period cramps and bloating. It involves sitting over a steaming pot of herb-infused water for 10 to 30 minutes, allowing the steam from the mixture to cleanse your lady parts. (The specific herb used is mugwort or wormwood, both said to help balance female hormonal levels.) While medical science doesn’t support all of the v-steam’s reported benefits, this unusual experience has a devoted following. Spas such as Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica and King Spa, near Chicago, offer v-steam services.
Relax and soak yourself in the beer bath. Photo courtesy of PIVA Beer Spa
Beer isn’t just for drinking. Try bathing in it. Beer baths are a long-standing tradition in parts of Eastern Europe, and PIVA Beer Spa in Chicago brings it stateside, offering beer soaks in wooden tubs filled with near 100-degree beer, herbs, and hops. The spa says the makeup of beer, such as brewer’s yeast, hops, and barley, can help alleviate respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies, and bronchitis. Beer also has high levels of vitamin B and active enzymes that can improve skin, increase blood circulation, detox the body (oh, the irony), and inspire muscle relaxation. We’ll drink to that.
The float therapy tank. Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch
Imagine feeling weightless—because that’s what this experience is like. Float therapy is a relaxation practice that involves floating, effortlessly, in a silky pool of 9 to 10 inches of Empson-salt-infused water. The warmed water keeps the body buoyant, while light and sound are reduced, to help foster a sense of peace and calm. Float therapy has become a popular treatment for muscle recovery, deeper sleep, arthritis management, and mental clarity. While the traditional method is being in a float pod (a sensory deprivation tank that closes over you), this might be an intimidating ask of a first-time floater. Solution: The Spa at the Lodge at Woodloch, located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, offers a float tank experience in a small, private room with a pool, where lighting can be controlled by the guest. This allows you to determine the level of sensory deprivation with which you’re comfortable.
Relaxation as its finest. Photo courtesy of Salt Cove Wellness
HALOTHERAPY (SALT CAVES)
Skip the sauna and breathe in—deeply—while lounging in a salt cave. Otherwise known as halotherapy, this treatment originated in the salt caves of Eastern Europe, according to the Salt Therapy Association. The hard-working salt miners who worked daily in those caves rarely had respiratory health problems and retained a youthful glow. Spas of today hope to tap into this salt cave-inspired fountain of good health by replicating those salt caves, with softer aesthetics and a gentle soundscape. These specially designed rooms are typically surrounded by the key ingredient: blocks of Himalayan salt. Halotherapy is considered beneficial for those struggling with asthma, inflammation, and allergies, but it’s also a terrific way to get some 1:1 time with yourself, undisturbed. Salt Cove Wellness in Bath, Pennsylvania, even offers guided meditation, sound healing, and Reiki in its climate-controlled salt rooms.
Hydrotherapy. Photo courtesy of Kohler Waters Spa
Hydrotherapy is just a fancy name for any treatment that uses water to provide healing benefits. One of the best spas in the world to experience a myriad of these options: Kohler Waters Spa in Wisconsin. The luxury resort spa leverages the namesake company’s bathing technology to provide innovative hydrotherapy services. Most treatments incorporate the KOHLER Custom Vichy Shower. Spa technicians can manually control its water temperature and water flow as it’s used at the massage tables. The newest service, Glacier Springs, incorporates elements of warm and cold. It starts off with an invigorating peppermint body scrub, followed by a warm-water rinse under the Vichy Shower while receiving an aromatic ice massage, and ends with a cool-stone eye treatment and cooling foot massage.
Bathe yourself in healing sound. Humans have found inspiration, peace, and clarity through music for centuries, yet science is just beginning to truly catch up to the benefits of sound therapy. At the most basic level, different sounds and vibrations affect different parts of the mind and body, including the release of brain chemicals such as oxytocin ("the pain-relief hormone") and dopamine ("the happy hormone"). With the right alchemy of sounds and vibrational frequencies—via singing bowls, gongs, chimes, chanting, etc.—skilled sound therapists can produce sound arrangements designed to encourage better sleep, stimulate the immune system, reduce cognitive functions, or reduce anxiety. You may find these offerings listed as sound baths, which can be held in a group setting or privately, or under the title of sound therapy or vibrational therapy. At L’Auberge de Sedona you can experience what it calls a “truly magical sound healing session” with its Holographic Alchemy of Sounds offering, a customized, private session that utilizes vocal harmonies and vibrational instruments to help you experience deep relaxation and healing.