Trending Now: The 10 Spa Treatments Sweeping the World of Wellness
Subzero temperatures? Upside-down swinging? Incense smoke blown where the sun doesn’t shine? The latest spa services are pushing the boundaries. Plenty of travelers still just want a simple massage or a beautifying facial from a resort spa, but savvy hotels are embracing new approaches (and adopting now-trendy traditional healing techniques) to cater to guests who want a more immersive wellness experience. And while some of these treatments might not sound like pampering, they’re all designed to leave guests feeling great.
Here is a list of new and trendy classes and treatments that go far and above the typical facial to offer services that renew and rejuvenate in wholly unexpected ways.
The spa world has been talking about chakras—spinning “wheels of energy” along the spine in yogic tradition—for ages, but the new chakra treatments go way beyond colored lights. At the new Aja retreat in Malibu (weeklong program from $10,000; 1821 Latigo Canyon Rd.; 310-457-7024; ajamalibu.com), the weeklong program dives deep into one chakra each day, with specific teas, meals, treatments, and talks. The Four Seasons Sayan in Bali (treatments from $190; Jl. Raya Sayan, Ubud; 62-361/977-577; fourseasons.com) recently introduced multifaceted chakra ceremonies that get rather involved and push guests beyond their comfort zones—the root chakra treatment, for instance, includes sitting over burning incense.
Courtesy Four Seasons Bali
Gwyneth Paltrow has raved about this practice, which combines elements of asana with circus-style silks and is said to improve circulation and health, reduce pain and create a fun feeling of flying. Students learn to wrap the fabric around their bodies to hang from their lower backs or their hips and let gravity stretch their bodies in different directions. Spas have caught on: When Miraval (for $75, 5000 E. Via Estancia Mirval, Tucson; 800-232-3969; miravalresorts.com) renovated its yoga studio a few years ago, it installed hammocks for aerial classes, as did the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (for $8; 7575 E. Princess Rd.; 480-585-4848; fairmont.com). And when the Island House (complimentary for guests; Mahogany Hill, Nassau; 242-698-6300; the-island-house.com) opened in the Bahamas last year, it made AntiGravity Yoga (yes, it’s trademarked) a cornerstone of its fitness offerings.
Robin Stancliff Photography / Courtesy Miraval
It’s hard to know what to expect: Burning sage, chanting, brushing with feathers, drumming, and hands-on energy work and massage are all on the table. More travelers are open to the idea of healers who can engage forces of nature and ancient wisdom to cleanse the energetic body of imprints that lead to negative physical and emotional states—and don’t want to go to Peru or Mayan Mexico to meet them. Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn (from $315; 47900 CA-1; 831-667-2200; postranchinn.com) was ahead of the curve, and shaman-to-the-stars Jon Rasmussen has been in residence for years. Newer spas are following that lead. Shamanic sessions are the signature treatment at the innovative spa at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Italy (from $170; 72015 Savelletri de Fasano, Brisini; 39-080/225-5000; vairspa.it), and Alan Faena’s personal shaman in Argentina helped design treatments at the South American–inspired spa at the new Faena Miami Beach (for $400; 3201 Collins Ave.; 305-534-8800; faena.com).
Robin Stancliff Photography / Courtesy Miraval
Meditation is the new “it” activity, with events like the Big Quiet’s “massive meditations for Modern People” in large, public spaces and programs like the Path, a trendy group meditation practice that has more in common with red-hot SoulCycle than the crunchy Insight Meditation Center. Last year, spas started taking mindfulness far beyond the cushion, adding a special personal meditation pod with LED color therapy, “binaural beat meditation” to induce relaxed alpha or beta brain waves, and “microcrystalline tiles,” said to diminish harmful electromagnetic fields from digital devices. The Somadome looks like something out of Sleeper, but its creators say the lighted pod is a private place to calm the senses and restore the mind. Guests can pick from eight tracks, some with verbal instruction, designed to promote mental states like focus or relaxation, for 20-minute sessions. It’s on the menu at spas like the Ojai Valley Inn (for $45; 905 Country Club Rd.; 855-697-8780; ojairesort.com) and Four Seasons Westlake Village (for $60 a la carte or $45 when booked with a spa treatment; 2 Dole Dr.; 818-575-3000; fourseasons.com).
Courtesy Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Spas have started staying up late—sure, it’s partly to squeeze in more hours of revenue, but it also serves to channel the healing energy (and romantic potential) of the moon and the stars. Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia (for $650; Kaoh Rung, Krong Preah Sihanouk; 855-23/989-012; songsaa.com) has a “night spa” menu of treatments performed between 8 and 10:30 p.m., with an emphasis on restful sleep, couples’ connection, and chakra wellbeing. The spa at the Betsy (for $460, 1440 Ocean Dr.; 305-531-6100; thebetsyhotel.com), the only outdoor spa in South Beach, offers a nighttime couples massage with candlelight and rose petals that concludes at midnight.
A few years ago, the trend was express treatments that combined a few services in the space of half a lunch hour. The pendulum has swung back. At Nihiwatu’s year-old Nihi Oka spa (for $595 for two; Sumba Island, Indonesia; 62-361/757-149; nihiwatu.com), a flat fee gets three couples a day unlimited massages, reflexology, facials, hair treatments, pedicures, and more; plus breakfast, lunch, and a private pool and beach. They’ve had guests hike over at 8 a.m. and return to the resort at sunset, and now a new guest villa lets them stay overnight. Banyan Tree resorts also rolled out unlimited massages last year for guests who book Spa Sanctuary Villas at 17 properties from Macau to the Mayan Riviera with plans for every resort across the portfolio to have them by 2017 (banyantree.com).
Courtesy Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Spas as Classrooms
Keeping with the trend toward “experiences” and personal-growth-promoting travel, spas are getting into the learning game—giving guests not only 60-minutes of high-touch escape but also knowledge of self-care that they can take home. The spa at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (4750 Amelia Island Pkwy.; 904-277-1100;ritzcarlton.com) offers a complimentary daily “Salt of the Earth” class about using Himalayan salt for everyday wellness (including making a salt scrub). And L’Auberge de Sedona (for $20; 301 Little Ln.; 800-905-5745; lauberge.com) gives botanical educational classes in the form of L’Apothecary Blending Sessions that teach guests about aromatherapy while letting them blend their own bath oils and scrubs using Sedona elements like rosemary, piñon, and juniper.
What our parents used to call “getting outside” has become a full-blown wellness craze with a fancy name and, increasingly, fancy trappings. The Japanese tradition of rejuvenating by spending contemplative time in nature has gotten a big-time upgrade at the year-old Six Senses Douro Valley, (complimentary for guests; Quinta Vale de Abrão, 5100-758 Samodães, Lamego; 351-254/660-600; sixsenses.com) where meditation teachers lead session in the surrounding woodlands, and “Nest Rest” pods hang from trees. Blackberry Farm in Tennessee (from $150; 1471 W. Millers Cove Rd.; Walland; 865-984-8166; blackberryfarm.com) has created a menu of “Deep Healing Woods” activities, and the Lodge at Woodloch in Pennsylvania (from $300; 109 River Birch Ln., Hawley; 570-685-8500; thelodgeatwoodloch.com) recently started touting its status as a certified forest bathing facility.
Courtesy Six Senses Douro Valley
Pink Himalayan sea salt isn’t just for food. It’s becoming a cornerstone of spa architecture, as caves and walls made of the substance are said to improve cell activity, energy, and blood sugar levels; impart 84 elements and trace elements to the body; and flood a person’s system with negative ions that reduce inflammation and improve mood. (Think of how good you feel in salty seaside air.) Relais San Maurizio in Italy (from $44; Viale S. Maurizio, 39, 12058 Santo Stefano Belbo; 39-0141/841-900; relaissanmaurizio.it) already had a Caudalie vinotherapy spa, but it now touts its salt cave, where guests can lounge and complete a thalassotherapy circuit, with equal billing, and Acqualina in Florida (from $55; 17875 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach; 305-918-8000; acqualinaresort.com) has made a Himalayan salt wall the centerpiece of its relaxation room.
Troy Campbell / Acqualina
Firmly in the hard-to-believe-people-pay-for-this category is cryotherapy, or freezing yourself—down to negative 190 degrees Fahrenheit—which adherents say promotes youthfulness, boosts metabolism, reduces cellulite, loosens muscles, and provides a serious jolt of energy. The cutting-edge SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain (for $100; Carrer del Verderol 5, 03581 L’Albir, Alicante; 34-966/811-199; shawellnessclinic.com) added a cryotherapy chamber last year for 1- to 3-minute sessions. Its focus is athletic performance and recovery, too, at spas such as Terme Marins Monte-Carlo (for $60; 2 Ave. de Monte-Carlo; 377-98/066-900; thermesmarinsmontecarlo.com) and the Sea Island Spa in Georgia (from $30; 100 Cloister Dr.; 855-714-9201; seaisland.com), where it’s part of the golf performance center.
Courtesy Terme Marins