Top 5 Spa Trends for 2011
When talking about relaxation, the first thing that often comes to mind is a spa treatment. Whether you love facials or massages, hot stone therapy or full body scrubdowns, these incredible indulgences let you lose your cares for a short while, allowing you to return to every day life with a refreshed outlook.
Right now there are five major trends happening in the spa industry, and with the help of OutTraveler we've compiled that info for you.
Check it out, pick your favorite, and treat yourself to a moment's peace.
The whole idea of a "spa" hearkens back to medieval times, when the mineral-rich springs in Spa, Belgium, became renowned for their healing powers. The key was the bubbling water’s temperature—the heat opened pores to aid absorption.
That same concept is being delivered at Dunton Hot Springs in the historic mining town of Dolores, CO. An hour from Durango, here you’ll soak in natural springs with the commanding backdrop of the snowcapped Rockies. The native Ute people used to bathe in the waters after a long day of hunting before miners took dips to ease their tired muscles. (The springs are rich in calcium bicarbonate, which opens peripheral blood vessels and improves circulation, as well as iron, manganese, and lithium for fortification.) There are six ways to soak: inside the restored 19th-century wooden bathhouse, under the stars at the muddy source, inside the Well House cabin, out on the river, or in deep pools outside the bathhouse or behind the Dunton Store cabin.
It’s a nonpretentious, wear-what-you-want rustic experience—look for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s authentic scrawl on the bar—and it's open only to guests staying at its hotel and restored log cabins.
Why settle for one person working on your sore muscles when the six-hands lava stone massage at Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort (pictured here) is the ultimate upgrade? Love a stone massage? In Bali the Ayana Resort & Spa’s hot shell massage is the newest option in stone massage therapy, using local Indian Ocean shells to warm and relax your body. However, the Ritz Carlton South Beach infuses Latin flava and Miami culture into a fast-paced, deep, and effective knead with strokes that are freakishly in sync with the beats of flamenco and salsa music. It’s like Dancing With the Stars on your body, but the only elimination is of knots and kinks.
Hippocrates treated bronchial and lung disorders with saltwater inhalation. Pilgrims to the Dead Sea have been bobbing in its mineral-rich, super-saturated expanse since biblical times. But the current trend is salt spas—entire rooms caked in the stuff. It's a riff on Eastern European salt caves where microclimates devoid of fungi, bacteria, and allergens and suffused with minerals have been used therapeutically for hundreds of years.
The most famous is Wieliczka Salt Mine outside Krakow in Poland. But since that's kind of a schlep, why not try Salt Chalet (pictured here) with a doctor’s office–like approach called halotherapy. Founded in Encino, CA, with franchises popping up in Beverly Hills and Phoenix, Salt Chalet’s rooms feature six-inch-deep crunchy Dead Sea salt floors and crystal-spackled walls, with saltcicles lending an imagineered ice-cave vibe (sans yeti).
Indigenous ingredients are fast becoming a highlight for spas worldwide, not only to preserve centuries-old use but also to introduce spa-goers to traditional remedies. Neem oil, extracted from the neem evergreen, is prized in its native India for the way it protects and nourishes skin. Hungarians swear by their locally grown stonecrop (or Sedum, a cactus plant), which lightens complexion and tones the epidermis. Noni, Hawaii’s miracle herb, regenerates the skin.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort in Calistoga, Calif., is a classic example of looking locally when creating a spa destination. Capitalizing on the area’s sulfur-rich spring water, volcanic ash, and peat, the doc first mixed up a batch of his iconic mud in 1952, launching a thousand copycats since. With visitors neck-deep in euphoria, Napa Valley lavender wafting through the air, the ashes cleanse and smooth the skin, while the water detoxifies and enriches it with minerals.
For some, the visual is insane: Nearly nude vacationers jumping from hot spas into a cold snowy bank and then back into the hot water. However, there must be some benefit to it. Yogis use Ishnan, or very cold showers, for spiritual cleansing. For Finns, a post-sweat run through the snowy woods into an icy stream or lake, known as avantouinti ("ice hole swimming"), is practically a national pastime.
The truth is that the hot/cold contrast shocks your system, mentally and physically. The natural stress improves circulation as blood rushes back from the skin to the organs, tightens pores, stokes the immune system, increases metabolism, decreases inflammation and pain, and contrary to the cold-shower-when-hot-and-bothered lore, actually pumps up testosterone levels.
So where can you find this kind of treatment? Vegas, baby!
After exploring the 50,000-square-foot expanse of Caesars Palace’s Roman-style Qua Spa, grab a robe and head to the igloo-like Arctic ice room. It’s a relatively comfortable 55 degrees, and there are ice chips for exfoliating steaming skin, peppermint-infused air, and "snowflakes" falling from above (it’s actually the special-effects foam used in movies). With heated floors, the effect is brisk refreshment and comfortable cool-down without the heart-jumping shock of a cold shower.
Research courtesy of OutTraveler.