Coming Soon to a Spa Near You—
treatments that delight, detox, and deliver
With money tight, it’s oh so easy to stick with the tried and true spa treatments: deep tissue massage, a steam facial, the quick mani/pedi. But there’s a wealth of newer offerings populating the spa menu, and most of them are worth exploring. Break out of your beauty rut and check out our favorite cutting edge treats.
Interpretive touch massageBrad Drummer, the creator of Interpretive Touch, blends well-established techniques, including Swedish, Deep Tissue and Shiatsu, with more recent techniques such as Trager and Connective Tissue Therapy. By combining the best of these various techniques with Drummer's own philosophy of listening to the needs of the individual client's body, he has created a a unique sequence of flowing strokes. Think of it as the massage equivalent to vinyasa (flow) yoga that’s easy on the body and customized to your particular needs. “It’s a pleasurable, deep experience that doesn’t cause pain,” says Drummer. Where to find it: Encantado Resort, Santa Fe, and Exhale Spas under the name “deep flow.”
Ku NyeKu Nye is a Tibetan massage that balances the five elements and restores a harmonious flow of energy and vitality. Literally, Ku means 'to apply' or to anoint the body with therapeutic oils while Nye refers to the actual massage, a mix of kneading, cupping, and acupressure. The final part of Ku Nye therapy involves cleaning the oils from the body using barley or chickpea powder, with other ingredients added to the base powders depending on the person's diagnosed condition. Deeply restorative and therapeutic, Ku Nye revives an ancient Tibetan tradition of getting mind and body into spiritual alignment. Where to find it: Four Seasons, Beverly Hills.
Raindrop AromatherapyThe raindrop technique incorporates light massage with essential oils to calm the nervous system and treat spinal problems. The therapy originated in the 1980s from the research of Dr. Gary Young working with a Lakota medicine man named Wallace Black Elk. Raindrop Technique uses a sequence of essential oils that boost the immune system, induce relaxation, and promote overall health, vitality, and longevity. The oils are dispensed in little drops from a height of about six inches above the back—hence the name. After pooling on the back, the practitioner massages the oils along the spine and feet. The treatment lasts about an hour, but the body absorbs the oils and continues to feel the effect of the treatment for up to a week. Where to find it: Pura Vida Spa, Costa Rica Find it closer to you at: The Ritz Carlton, South Beach.
Although it looks extreme, with the practitioner supported by wooden bars suspended over the guest, this treatment actually offers a luxurious, deep-tissue massage. Applying muscle compression using the feet, the technique combines aspects of Thai massage, shiatsu, and ayurveda. The resulting pressure brings about structural rejuvenation in chronically damaged soft tissues, stimulates the lymphatic system, and relieves stress. “The foot provides a broad pressure that releases muscle and myofascial tension with less discomfort than say an elbow would provide,” says Heather Christian, massage therapist at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Spa in California. Christian is in fact the co-creator of four foot ashiatsu massage, which is offered only at the Ritz Carlton where she works. “Ashiatsu is for guests who like the deepest massage possible,” she says. “However, every massage we do is modified to the guest's needs and these massages are done with more or less pressure depending upon specific guest's requests.” Where to find it: Ritz Carltons throughout the USA, Canyon Ranch Resorts. Read about our publisher’s experience with Ashiatsu!
Soundscapes facialMary Elizabeth Wakefield, acupuncturist and founder of the Chi-Akra Center in New York City, developed Facial Soundscapes, a specific sound-healing protocol using tuning forks on acupuncture points to correct imbalances throughout the body, and improve facial tone. “The face is the most emotional part of the body—a barometer of the entire body’s health,” says Wakefield. A form of acupressure for the face, Soundscapes provides an option to those who seek the benefits of facial acupuncture without the needles. The vibration of tuning forks on meridian points produces the same effect as a needle in the same location. For the treatment, Wakefield uses two tuning forks in tandem. After tapping them against a hard surface to make them vibrate, she places them on specific points on the body and face while sound waves emanate from each tuning fork, reverberating throughout the body. Where to find it: Chiakra spa, NYC.
Oxygen facialOriginally designed to treat redness and burns, oxygen facials are becoming a new fixture on many spa’s beauty menus. But you don’t need to get the red out to enjoy the benefits of an oxygen facial. Estheticians assert that treating the skin with oxygen not only soothes dry skin, but also rehydrates and disinfects even the most sensitive skin. Since I live close to the St. Julien Hotel, which has a spa that offers the oxygen facial, I decided to check out the treatment firsthand. Eva Avjean, my esthetician, raved about the products from Luzern Laboratories, the Swiss skin care company that utilizes Bio-Swiss plant extracts and oxygen, that she used as part of the facial.
The facial, while thoroughly purifying, felt low impact—in a good way. The oxygen mask provided a crucial, unadulterated element not available in our environment as we know it, manifesting on my skin as a halo of newfound radiance. Best of all, instead of showing signs of irritation and breakouts, the facial left, as the best campers do, no trace.
Where to find it: St. Julien, Boulder and the Mandarin Oriental in Miami.