What are the top treatment requests at spas? Forget reflexology and mud wraps. Swedish massages and basic facials, the spa world’s plain vanilla, rule. But that hasn’t stopped spas from dreaming up fresh ways to promote relaxation, wellness and repeat visits.
Five new treatments, three at spas easily reached from New York and none of them cheap, caught my eye during the International Spa Association’s annual visit to New York.
The Four-Minute Guy Facial
Too impatient for a full-scale facial? Monhonk Mountain House, an updated Victorian retreat in New Paltz, 90 miles north of New York City, offers a nifty four-minute men’s skin treatment that can be added to a massage. The four-step program includes a quick cleanse, pH-balancing toner, anti-age serum and moisturizer. A full-blown 50-minute version is also available ($120 for 50 minutes). What differentiates this men’s treatment from a women’s facial? The products are formulated for skin that’s exfoliated daily during shaving and impart a clean, herbal fragrance. And the word facial is never uttered. (The treatment is called Skin Fitness) Cool fact: Skin Fitness made its debut on Father’s Day, 2011.
Direct from Queensland, Australia comes this unexpected mash-up – Japanese acupuncture with hot rocks (A$235 for 80 minutes). Devised by Keri Krieger, a senior therapist at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Tallebudgera Valley, the treatment purports to relieve stress, adrenal exhaustion and insomnia by blending the healing attributes of acupuncture with the soothing effects of hot stone therapy. “The warmth of the hot stones relieves muscle tension, and the acupuncture stimulates and regulates energy flow through body,” Krieger says. To calm needle-phobic spa-goers, she uses hair-thin Japanese acupuncture needles, slimmer than those used in Chinese acupuncture. Cool fact: Actor Hugh Jackman is an ownership partner in the Aussie spa.
LED Light Therapy Facial
Though this anti-aging treatment was demonstrated on hands, the Trump hotel spas, including the spa at Trump SoHo, incorporate red LED light therapy into top-of-the-line facials like the Ultimate Kate, with uses lotions by LA esthetician Kate Somerville ($350 for 90 minutes). After the face is cleansed, exfoliated and hydrated, the skin is treated for 20 minutes with a pulsating red LED light that purports to stimulate blood flow, increase circulation and spur collagen production. Tighter skin, brighter color and the reduced appearance of wrinkles are the goals. Cool fact: NASA developed red LED light therapy to stimulate plant growth.
This curious black bed with a flax seed support and black sensors poking out like flower stems was hands down the weirdest looking device we saw. But looks are deceptive, apparently. The Taiz Sensorium combines elements of aromatherapy, music and human touch to promote relaxation and release tension. Devised by artist, inventor, musician Kephart Taiz, the eponymous treatment has been compared to a 50-minute adventure, facilitated by its curated onslaught of fragrance, touch and sounds ranging from animal cries to harp, gong and didgeridoo. Sensorium treatments are exclusively at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tuscon. Cool fact: Taiz administers the $250 treatment himself.
It’s common for spas to layer treatments with Native American philosophies and folklore (dream catchers, anyone?). Skana, the Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York, offers authenticity. Situated on tribal land, the spa is owned and operated by the Oneida Indians along with a nearby boutique hotel, five golf courses, a sports complex and the ubiquitous casino. Not surprisingly, treatments at Skana change with the seasons and incorporate indigenous plants, fragrances and food, from lavender, rosemary and sage to strawberries and maple syrup. Cool fact: the spa’s sweat lodge, adorned with buffalo hide drapes, was built by the Oneida Indian Nation and the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe of South Dakota.