If money is no object, just how indulgent can you get? Across the country, top spas are trying to outdo themselves with ever-more wildly extravagant treatments.
Agua Spa at the Delano Hotel,
Philippe Starck may live in a wooden cabin in a French forest without running water or electricity, but he has dedicated his life to designing the most luxurious hotel-cum-spas in the world. The spa at his outrageously hip South Beach hotel sprawls lavishly on the penthouse floor with a 360° panoramic view of the ocean. Celebs like Madonna and Will Smith are totally hooked on its closely guarded privacy. Among the pampering open-air massages, facials, guided meditations, and aromatherapy body treatments is the Traditional Thai Bodywork. This three-hour, one-of-a-kind combination of movement and massage adjusts your skeletal structure, increases flexibility, relieves muscle and joint tension, and, believe it or not, stimulates your internal organs. “There’s nothing better after a night of dancing at Bar Room or salsa-ing at Starfish than being stretched and massaged all morning,” says twenty-nine-year-old Miami real estate powerhouse Leslie Hartnick with a smile. “I simply don’t have time to be hung over.” ($300)
Spa Bellagio at the Bellagio Hotel, 702/693-7111.
At this opulent dream-of-a-spa in the most expensive hotel ever built, absolutely everyone’s treated like royalty by the impeccably-dressed, seemingly unlimited staff. It’s clear why Salma Hayek, Lisa Rinna, and Sarah Michelle Gellar are hooked: Here, the old you-have-to-suffer-to-be-beautiful axiom is swiftly tossed out the gigantic Italian-marble-silled windows. The spa’s ultimate rubdown, the Tandem Massage, takes deep tissue massages to a whole new—almost mystical—level. For over an hour, two massage therapists work together to turn your muscles to out-and-out mush. “There’s absolutely nothing like it,” sighs Marcela Rubini, a curvy, Penélope Cruz look-alike who flies out to Las Vegas for monthly facials and massages at this Tuscan fantasyland. “When your whole body is being massaged at once, your mind doesn’t know where to go—it has no choice but to let go completely. I’ve never experienced relaxation like this. It’s utter bliss.” After your massage, head for the heated whirlpool or cold plunge—anything to make it all last just a few minutes longer. Bellissimo. ($170)
Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa, 312/915-0960.
At this swank new spa on tony Michigan Avenue frequented by Ben Affleck, Marisa Tomei, and Star Jones, the most lavish treatment is the Turkish Exploration—a series of traditional ritual bathing experiences straight from Istanbul, where wet spas reign supreme. Its star attraction is the exotic candle-lit Hammam Room, a super-humid bathing chamber where aromatic oils and rich lotions are used to purify your hair, skin, and body. The Turkish Chamber also includes an endless array of other purifying water treatments: a Vichy Shower, Needle Shower, steam room, whirlpool, sauna, and a relaxation tub with Oligo Elements (trace minerals of potassium, magnesium, calcium to hydrate and calm skin). When you manage to scrape yourself off the Quiet Room’s cream-and-gold brocaded lounge pillows, you’re treated to a full-body sports massage.
“Talk about an escape!” says Caroline Strattan, a twenty-eight-year-old waifish public relations executive with pale, almost translucent skin. “My favorite parts of the treatment are the Needle Shower—you get massaged by a million tiny jets of water—and meditating in the Quiet Room. My skin stays luminous for weeks.” ($110)
Renée Rouleau Skin Spa, 972/248-6131.
At this cozy, candle-lit day spa in Dallas, treatment rooms are feng-shui friendly, smell faintly of vanilla and ginger, and have names like Sun, Moon, Earth and
Star. Pop diva Jessica Simpson, not to mention the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, come here to unwind and escape.
The newest skin treatment, the Vitamin C Facial, delivers a whopping dose of vitamin C and other antioxidants twenty times more potent than anything available in a bottle (it’s stored in an air-tight vial that’s unsealed right before use). After the serum is smoothed on your face, an ultra-sound machine is used to absorb the vitamins deep into your skin. The treatment finishes with a rich, creamy shea butter mask, making your face so soft it literally glows. “After my baby was born, I needed to feel extra sexy and beautiful again—fast,” says Aston Garling, a porcelain-skinned, thirty-one-year-old member of Dallas’ junior social set. “This facial is a godsend. Period. No one can believe I just had a baby.” Garling pairs the facial with two other treatments: the Aroma Hand Scrub and Rub and Peppermint Foot Scrub and Rub. “The ultimate,” she says. ($175 total)
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa, 724/329-6387.
If you’re fortunate enough to spend a long weekend at this spa’s tree-lined, French-chateau-inspired hotel, the Thermal Mineral Kur (in the spirit of “taking the Kur” so popular at European spas) is a must. It’s a series of intense body treatments spread out over three days, each of which begins with a body wrap with 100% organic and medicinal Moor Mud, followed by a hydromassage in water laden with thermal mineral crystals from the famous Sarver Spring in Hungary. When you emerge, ridiculously baby soft and blissful, you are massaged within an inch of your life for almost an hour with a thick, mineral-rich cream and detoxifying essential oils. The aftermath is, well, priceless: “I’d mortgage my house for this treatment,” Kiki Matthews, a brunette, model-tall interior decorator, declares. “My whole body feels like melted butter.” ($675)
Frédéric Fekkai Beauté de Provence, 310/777-8700.
Cell phones may be de rigueur here (it is LA, after all), but from the moment you enter this spa, you can’t help feeling utterly transported to Fekkai’s native town of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Warm gold-sponged walls, huge terracotta pots of sunflowers, brilliant green ficus trees, and an enormous bubbling fountain from Aix create a sunny, peaceful atmosphere that spills into an outdoor café literally bursting with potted orange trees and thousands of blooming flowers. No wonder Hilary Swank, Portia de Rossi, Claudia Schiffer, and Courteney Cox Arquette are all regulars.
Those looking for the absolute pinnacle of pampering book Le Suprême, a full day of luxury that starts with a detoxifying, slimming seaweed body wrap, a full body massage, and a steam-cleansing facial. Then you’re wrapped up and whisked away to the salon for a haircut and blowdry with one of Fekkai’s top stylists. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly get any softer, smoother, or more gorgeous, a manicurist appears out of nowhere to give you a warm paraffin manicure and pedicure. The day ends with a light, refreshing lunch at Café Mirabeau—and with you looking positively radiant. ($335)
NEW YORK CITY:
(Uptown) Bliss57, 212/219-8970.
This new uptown version of SoHo’s wildly popular Bliss spa is already packing in the chic Madison Avenue set, as well as celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Winona Ryder, Sigourney Weaver, Uma Thurman, and Joan Jett. Those in the know swear by the spa’s ultimate, over-the-top body treatment: The Ginger Rub. Clocking in at well over two hours, this body treatment is part full-body rub, part detoxifying body wrap, and part muscle-melting deep tissue massage. After being thoroughly rubbed down with a mixture of freshly-chopped ginger and fragrant essential oils, you’re wrapped in a soft cotton heat wrap while the ginger warms and detoxifies your skin.
The treatment finishes with a 100 minute kneading massage, rendering you a very silky, 100-percent refreshed shadow of your former self. “I hate to admit just how incredible this treatment is because I’ll only have a harder time booking an appointment,” says Darcy Mann, a reed-thin, twenty-five-year-old fashion casting agent, “but I will tell you it’s absolutely indescribable head-to-toe rejuvenation. I am seriously addicted.” ($200)
(Downtown) Mezzanine Spa at Soho Integrative Health, 212/431-1600.
Bamboo floors, silver-and-rice-paper doors, and walls of Japanese sea grass make this visually impressive spa thoroughly Zen-like and utterly unique. It sprawls above the extraordinary, new, cutting-edge medical center, Soho Integrative Health, to which it’s connected by a spectacular three-story Indian Slate waterfall that rushes down to a reflecting pool on the ground floor. This lush Medi-Spa, offering a special combination of Eastern and Western doctor-recommended treatments, just opened its doors on July 1st—and polished, well-heeled New Yorkers are already desperate to book an appointment. The most lavish treatment begins with The Way of Wu Facial from the Eastern Menu, a feng-shui facial based on the five key elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth) integral to Chinese herbal medicine. Your face is thoroughly cleansed, exfoliated, masked, toned, and moisturized—and if you crave perfection, add the Cosmetic Acupuncture treatment to boost collagen production, improve muscle tone, and relieve stress. When it’s all over your face looks smooth, clear, and not the least bit red, prodded or poked. Next, choose the Custom Polish and Wrap from the Western Menu, a customized exfoliating treatment using Dead Sea salts, a grapeseed scrub, or a full-body glycolic peel. After exfoliation, your entire body is painted with a vitamin C mask, self-heating volcanic mud, detoxifying sea kelp, or Dead Sea Fango mud. “This is the most time-efficient address in the city,” says Janie Michaels, a thirty-two-year-old, Celine-clad venture capitalist. “I can book an appointment with my acupuncturist, see my nutritionist, and get a body wrap all in the same afternoon. It’s genius.” (approximately $320 total)