Thai therapies, flavoured pedicures among new trends at spa resorts
Christina Jonas Canadian Press
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Imagine a table laden with rich, dark chocolate, the world's best caviar, a glass of the finest red wine and sweet, amber honey. Now imagine these same extravagances being massaged into your parched skin. What a waste you say? Not at all, according to experts in the spa industry who say this is just one of many trends. Certain foods contain a class of antioxidants that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, increase immune function and enhance antioxidant defence systems. These same antioxidants when applied to the skin can nourish it and help protect it from free radicals which damage skin cells, causing wrinkles, say advocates. Some of the top offenders of free radical skin damage are UV sunlight, smog, toxins and cigarette smoke.
Marianne Persia, owner of the Hummingbird Hill Spa-Country Retreat, located near North Bay, Ont., says chocolate's sensual pleasure and health benefits make it a natural spa treatment. "Our chocolate indulgence spa getaway is one of our newest packages," she said, adding she came up with the idea around Valentine's Day. "It is very popular."
And what's not to love. Chocoholics and those who just want pure pampering are treated to two nights' bed and breakfast and four delectable spa services consisting of a hot chocolate massage, a chocolate body wrap, a scalp and hot stone neck and arm massage and a chocolate pedicure.
Mary Hughes, editor of Spa Life magazine, said spas are always inventing new treatments in an attempt to be unique. "The industry is very, very competitive. Even the smallest of properties, such as bed and breakfasts, are opening spas or partnering out." Some of the newer treatments include Thai therapies and flavoured pedicures built around themes. Hughes said Thai therapies have taken Canada by storm, and for good reason. The treatments are some of the best in the world, she said, especially a Thai massage, which is often described as a lazy man's yoga. "They pull and stretch you which feels great. I also recommend their signature massage which involves the therapist getting up on the client and using her body weight and elbows, knees and feet to release tension." Flavoured pedicures are also all the rage, and are often created with a particular season or holiday in mind. HavenWood, a spa just outside of St. John's, Nfld., offers an apple pedicure in autumn and a cranberry pedicure at Christmas, and at Valentine's they use rose petals and rose water.
At the Millcroft Inn and Spa near Orangeville, Ont., clients can choose an organic candy cane-based salt scrub at Christmastime, or a pure mandarin scrub year-round. They also offer chocolate or malt and barley pedicures. "All our body products are organic, so you could eat them," said Jennifer Stemmler, Millcroft's spa manager. Charles Banfield, Millcroft's marketing manager, said food-based treatments are popular right now, in part because spa-goers are intrigued by the local area and have a "when in Rome" mentality. "We try and incorporate local products into our treatments, such as the malt and barley scrub and soak, which includes a glass of premium draft from the Hockley Valley Brewing Company."
Another intriguing treatment at Millcroft is a caviar facial, which uses caviar extract to moisturize the skin and comes with a glass of wine and a taste of the sumptuous seafood. Or, if you prefer, you can have your wine mixed with a lotion and massaged into your skin. Beyond Wrapture Day Spas in Kelowna, B.C., offers vinotherapy treatments, including a grape pip scrub, a honey wine wrap and a red or white wine massage. "It is one of our most popular packages," said Debra Pender, president and CEO. "Research shows that grape seeds, stems and skins contain antioxidants called polyphenols. . . . Since we're home to the Okanagan Valley and its rolling vineyards, we make use of this local product." Pender said she has been in the business for 12 years, and has seen a lot of changes in that time. "I opened one of the first day spas in Canada. At first it wasn't great because people thought it was a house of ill repute. But now there are 35 day spas in Kelowna alone and the resort spa industry is one of the fastest growing industries." She said consumers are looking for touch because they are not getting enough of it in their own lives. "People are not getting it from their partners or spouses. I also think people have shorter periods of time and that's why day spas are so great."
Pender predicts a future trend in Canada will be music therapy, which uses the vibration from instruments to help clear body and mind. She is looking into treatments that feature a harpist playing instead of a CD, and crystal bowl therapy where bowls are placed on different parts of the body and then "played" by the therapist. "Crystal bowl therapy started in Mexico and is becoming very popular," Pender said. "The different sound vibrations travel through your body."
Currently, the biggest trend across Canada is medicinal spas, also know as medi-spas. Hughes, of Spa Life, said the industry knows that people are time poor, and these spas offer treatments that provide faster results. Instead of having to set aside time for 10 facials, a client can go to a medi-spa for just three or four treatments using machines, injections or lasers. "It is more expensive," she said, "but people don't have a lot of time." The treatments range from chemical peels to Botox injections and light therapy. Hughes said both the hands-on and medicinal spa treatments are going after the same results - tighter skin, smaller pores and diminished wrinkles and frown lines.
Perhaps the most telling treatment reflecting today's time crunch is the Hyatt Hotel chain's Blackberry balm hand massage. Users of the hand-held e-mail device are so hooked that they are complaining of sore thumbs and hand and arm discomfort. In response, Hyatt came up with a massage that specifically targets thumbs and overworked wrists.
A massage for PlayStation and Nintendo enthusiasts shouldn't be far behind.
© The Canadian Press 2007
According to the Eco-Spa Council, Spa, Wellness & Environmental Awareness are All Connected
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 4 PRNewswire — It's a magical combination: the vacation, designed to get you away from the daily grind. The spa, designed to rejuvenate your body and your mind. Imagine a cleansing mask, deep tissue massage, or therapeutic facial. Imagine lotions made from flowers, or a good workout. That's just the start. Relax — body and mind. Now, imagine the calming effects of knowing that your luxuriating and pampering is doing good for the environment.
Stevenswood Spa Resort Combines leisure with health for both the guest and the environment!
The world-renowned Eco-Spa Council takes this health objective one step further by emphasizing the dramatic impact spa operations can have on the environment. This impact can be positive when steps are taken to ensure that environmentally friendly decisions are being made by management.
Mike Webster, chairman of Eco-Spa Council sees council members join that are anxious to implement the changes that can make the footprint left behind by a spa ever so slight on the environment. Eco-Spa Council has been formed with the mission of raising consumer and management awareness of environmental factors in spa operations. The council further will compile, monitor and publish a directory for ecologically sensitive spa operators with a ranking system that rewards those who make extra-ordinary efforts at conservation.
What's Behind The Experience? "Guests who share a sensitivity to the future of our environment can also selfishly demand the best in premium grade products. The two objectives are fortunately not exclusive of one another," says Webster, who also operates Stevenswood Spa Resort along the Mendocino Coast. For example, Stevenswood Spa Resort in Mendocino, California features the Indigo Eco|Spa, which according to Experience Manager, Trace Cooper, is a certified "eco-spa" and uses formulas and products which are never tested on animals, have all organic base ingredients obtained only through sustainable resources, and reusable packages or packages using recycled and recyclable containers and soy-based printing inks. Even the linens and towels are made with hemp, or renewable cotton. No synthetics or polyester fabrics are used. "We believe today's savvy consumer demands more from the provisioners they choose," says Indigo's manager, Vladimir Joksimovich. "Guests who share a sensitivity to the future of our environment can also selfishly demand the best in premium-grade products, which also happen to be the most natural, pure, and quality products on the market. The two objectives are fortunately not exclusive of one another. Indigo Eco|Spa addresses this marketplace with a core based commitment to eco-sensitive, organically-based components of kind."
The spa uses botanical and all-natural ingredients, including red earth masks from locally-harvested clays, Pacific sea plants, essential oils from local old growth Redwood extracts, and all-natural lotions. Skin care products include shea butter and eucalyptus elements, custom-made procollagen marine cremes, and ground local seaweed compounded with lemon and juniper essential extracts. "Most of our treatments feature our private label line of skin and body care products," says Cooper. "(They are) locally formulated utilizing only the very finest organic botanicals, raw ingredients, and ecologically sensitive methods." Overall, the message from those in the industry reflects one of preparation.
Perhaps with the combination of a faster-paced world and the inherent need people have to occasionally slow down, the renewal of the traditional wellness spa was inevitable. If spa trends remain on the upswing, personal health might make a momentous leap to the forefront of our busy lives. "It's about using botanical and all-natural ingredients to pamper, detoxify, and re-energize the body," says Cooper. "By making certain that anything which comes in contact with the guest is of the utmost purity and made from the highest-quality, synthetic-free, all natural materials, Indigo Eco|Spa affirms our commitment to an ecologically sensitive spa experience." "We are experiencing a revival," says Leavy. "We are well on the road to wellness destinations."
Stevenswood lodge was designed from the ground up by working with local architects, who were deeply aware of the environmental considerations. Locating the facility in the eco-friendly area of the Mendocino Coast ensured that the building would be as "Green" as possible. The lodge was designed and crafted superbly with custom-made Honduras wood doors, using reclaimed lumber, and hand rubbed recycled Red Oak ceilings.
Much of the furniture and furnishings at Stevenswood is imported and stylish, with a flair of contemporary elegance, while guaranteeing the use of sustainable lumber, recyclable materials and production without the use of noxious chemicals. Italian microfibre sofas, dark espresso fixtures, hand-blown Venetian glass bowl Italian vanities, using post consumer recycled wine bottles, imported reclaimed cork flooring from Portugal, and bathrooms finished in Ocean Green slate from Madagascar. The Indigo Eco|Spa at Stevenswood, and the Eco-Spa Council remain committed to make a difference and consider the impact to the earth.
SOURCE Eco-Spa Council