Rejuvenate your body and soul at these five fabulous spas
By Linda Tagliaferro
These days, a spa is more than just a place to sit in a hot tub and enjoy a simple rubdown. Today's spa patrons have a multitude of options, from exfoliation and body wraps to facials and lava masks. You can even turn yourself into a human marshmallow and steep in a tub bubbling over with hot chocolate or luxuriate in a soothing seaweed wrap.
Mario Badescu Skin Care
Mario Badescu Skin Care, Inc., 320 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, 212/758-1065 or 1-800-BADESCU; www.MarioBadescu.com
Sarah Jessica Parker goes there when she's not looking for sex in the city. Naomi Campbell, Martha Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Cher and Jennifer Aniston are also customers. But you don't have to be a celebrity to reap the benefits of this New York City day spa and salon that has been in business since 1967.
As you walk into the spa, you'll see shelves filled with multicolored ointments. More than 200 products are available, and all of them are made in the spa's own laboratories. Mario Badescu's field of expertise is skin care, but full-body massages are also on the spa menu. Whether you're looking to remove those wrinkles or to clear up your complexion, this establishment has something for you.
All treatments begin with an expert's analysis of your skin type, and you can choose from a variety of soothing facial massages. Treatment prices range from $20 to $105 per hour, with packages also available.
Among the skincare choices are Oxygenating Treatments, which begin with a gentle exfoliation using a mixture of Grapefruit Extract and Papaya Enzyme. Your skin is then cleansed with a mint toner. Vitamins A, E and Ascorbic Acid nourish and moisturize your face, and a warm towel soothes your skin. Afterwards, a mixture of oxygen, vitamins and water is sprayed onto your skin. The goal of these treatments is to improve the strength and suppleness of your skin.
Other soothing offerings include herbal seaweed treatments, almond and honey body scrubs, and European facials.
You don't have to live in New York City to benefit from the spa. Go to www.MarioBadescu.com, click on "consultations" and fill in the Skin Analysis Form. You'll receive free samples that are tailor-made for your skin type. Once you try them, you'll undoubtedly want to order more by going back to the website or calling 1-800-BADESCU.
Golden Door Spa
2. Golden Door Spa at Las Casitas Village, Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Country Club, Las Croabas, Puerto Rico, 800/568-8365; www.wyndham.com/luxury
Enjoy a spa treatment in paradise. Spend your spa vacation in a resort perched on top of a 300-foot bluff that faces the magical location where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean. Las Casitas Village is a resort within a resort. You can enjoy the Golden Door Spa whether you stay at the exclusive Village or at the surrounding Wyndham El Conquistador Resort.
The 20,000 square-foot Golden Door Spa awaits those who truly need an escape from their everyday stress. As you walk through the spa's glass doors into its restful lobby, you're suddenly whisked away from your cares. There are small fountains and colorful orchids adorning the muted tones of the spa.
Upstairs, there's a Japanese O-furo, or hot bath, where cascading streams massage your shoulders as you prepare to unwind before your scheduled treatment. There are a wide variety of divine massages offered here, including the Spirit of Life treatment. It's an Ayurvedic - ancient Indian - full body massage that starts out with warm scented herbal oil poured on your "third eye" in the center of your forehead. Your entire body is wrapped in herb-soaked sheets. A soothing scalp, head, neck and shoulder massage follows. You'll also get a mini-facial and herbal hair rinse that will leave wonderful scents in your tresses. Words can't describe the deep relaxation that this treatment brings. After this blissful, 80-minute treatment, your massage therapist will pick out an Ayurvedic herb tea to complement your specific type.
This excellent spa also offers treatments including Thai massage, Shiatsu, LaStone therapy and Borinquen Body Scrub, which rejuvenates the skin with natural enzymes from Puerto Rico's tropical fruits. Prices range from $55 for a 25-minute massage to $198 for a 100-minute treatment.
The Spa at Charleston Place
3. The Spa at Charleston Place, 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina 800/455-2427; www.charlestonplacehotel.com
For a luxurious spa vacation or just one relaxing day of pampering, The Spa at Charleston Place, set in an Orient Express-owned hotel, offers a wide array of relaxing treatments. In an area filled with antiques shops, restored townhouses and sprawling Southern plantations, this magnificent jewel of a spa is located in the heart of downtown Charleston. You don't even have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy the spa's amenities.
The centerpiece of this European-style spa is a stunning swimming pool with a retractable roof that opens to let in the sunshine and closes in rainy weather. Relax in the Jacuzzi or unwind in the steam room and sauna. After your treatment, spend some time on the rooftop garden and sunbathing area, or enjoy the spa luncheon menu at the cafÈ.
Choose from facials such as the Refresher Facial (60 minutes/$55), or massages that include the Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage (60 minutes/$85) to melt away tension. The Seaweed Detoxifying Body Wrap ($95) is 60 minutes of rejuvenating bliss. It begins with the masseuse brushing your body to exfoliate any dead skin. Then you're slathered in a paste made from nourishing seaweed imported from the coast of Brittany in France. You're then wrapped, mummy-style, in a sheet and a blanket to help your pores absorb the nutrients. You'll feel like a bottle of champagne when the seaweed mixture started to bubble and pop all over your body.
After your superb body wrap, request a Swedish Massage (60 minutes/$85). You'll be steeped in oils of olive, almond, coconut and exotic kukui while the masseuse revitalizes your skin by kneading and smoothing your tired muscles.
The Spa at Paradise Point
4, The Spa at Paradise Point, 1404 Vacation Road, San Diego, California 858/274-4630 or 800/344-2525; www.paradisepoint.com
With its grand opening just this past April, the spa at this resort in Mission Bay is surrounded by 44 acres of lush tropical gardens. Stay in one of the single-level bungalows for an extended vacation, or just visit the spa for the day. The treatments combine exotic ingredients with traditional spa offerings. Their signature body treatments include the Javanese Lulur Royal Treatment (110 minutes /$220.) This exquisite relaxation ritual begins with a full body massage of Jasmine Frangipani-scented flower oil followed by a gentle exfoliation. A yogurt massage, a scented shower and a long soak in an O-furo (Japanese soaking tub) filled with fragrant rose petals completes this wonderful treatment.
You can also opt for the Volcanic Earth Clay Ritual (80 minutes/$160) which keeps the body cool while simultaneously drawing out toxins from the skin. A volcanic clay body mask is followed by a languorous Balinese foot massage. This concludes with a refreshing shower and a Balinese massage with tropical island fruit oil.
The spa also features the traditional offerings of Swedish massage (50 minutes/$85), foot reflexology (50 minutes/$95) as well as the Pacific Seaweed Body Mask (50 minutes/$100) and much more.
The Spa at the Hotel Hershey
5. The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, Hotel Road, Hershey, Pennsylvania 717/520-5888 or 1-800-HERSHEY; www.HersheyPA.com
The ultimate dream has finally come true for chocoholics. Now you can have your spa treatment and eat it, too. This year, the sweetest town in the U.S. opened a three-story, 17,000-square foot spa with chocolate and roses featured in many of their treatments.
Choose from unique offerings like the Whipped Cocoa Bath (25 minutes/$45) where you soak in a foaming tub of chocolate milk which smoothes and softens your skin while reminding you of your favorite steaming beverage.
Or turn yourself into a human dessert with the Chocolate Fondue Wrap (60 minutes/$90), a relaxing treatment that starts with a body brushing followed by a fondue of warmed moor mud and essence of cocoa. Then you're wrapped in a cozy, warm blanket until you almost resemble a Hershey's Kiss. Afterwards, you're washed off with a Hershey Vichy Shower.
If you'd rather eat chocolate than steep in it, then try the Hershey Gardens Rose Petal Soak, (25 minutes/$45) where you unwind in a soothing warm bath filled with aromatic rose petals.
The wide array of spa treatments includes Chocolate Mud Hydrotherapy (25 minutes/$50), Ocean Hydrotherapy (25 minutes/$50) and the Tranquility Wrap which combines lavender and myrrh with nourishing essences, followed by a scalp and foot massage (50 minutes/$75.)
Overnight spa packages are available and range from $209 (mid-week) or $299 (weekends) for a 2-days/1-night hotel stay with spa treatments, to $259 (mid-week) or $369 (weekends) for a 4-days/3-nights package. All packages are based on double occupancy and include free admission to the Hershey Museum and Hershey Gardens.
Some plus-size women would rather have their toenails pulled out than receive a body treatment at a spa. They can't decide which is worse - having a stranger touch their ample bodies or suffering the judgmental glances of hardbodied spa patrons.
While every plus-size woman has body image issues at some point in her life (so does the average-size woman, as a matter of fact), fear shouldn't prevent you from luxuriating in a spa treatment. According to Aine Mower, a plus size woman and a Las Vegas-based massage therapist who has a number of plus clients, you can create an experience that is both pleasant and safe.
Mower suggests that you call the spa ahead of time and explain that you're a plus-size woman and would like assurance that you'll be treated well. "It's in your best interest if you're up-front when you make the call," Mower says. "You're going to get a vibe right away, and you'll know if it's okay." Once you arrive, or at any point during your treatment, if you're made to feel uncomfortable, Mower advises you to leave immediately. "If you're feeling nervous/excited, that's okay," she says. "But if you have a 'this doesn't feel good' feeling, that's not okay."
If you don't feel comfortable removing all of your clothes, tell the practitioner and expect them to honor your wishes. "If you're going to a day spa," says Mower, "you're going to a place that should have the utmost professionalism. Being professional, the practitioner should be able to work to a client's comfort level."
"My feeling is that the experience should always be a delight," Mower says. "You should always know you're 100% in charge, be comfortable and enjoy it."
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