I just returned from Las Vegas, where the over-the-top CityCenter development boasts not one, not two, but three elegant spas, each in the character of the hotel that houses it. The quest for distinction goes deeper than style, though; each of these spas also offers innovative new treatment rooms that borrow from the wellness traditions of countries around the world. A few trend-pushing examples:
1. Salt Room at Aria Spa
This innovative treatment room features an entire wall made of salt bricks; the light fixtures continue the effect with bulbs heating large crystals of salt. The idea is that breathing salt-infused air clears the respiratory system. If that weren’t enough, the room features vibrating massage chairs fitted with headphones; the vibration occurs in sync with the rhythms of the music.
2. Hydrotherapy Jacuzzi at Mandarin Oriental
The oversize jacuzzi features metal loungers with the jets directly placed underneath the reclining chairs. When you lie on your back, the jets bubble soothingly under your spine and sore muscles.
3. Ganbanyoku Japanese Heated Stone Beds at Aria Spa
Soothe aching muscles by heating them from within when you lie on these granite stone beds imported from Japan.
4. Meditation Room with Water Wall at Vdara
Clearing your mind is easier when the soothing flow of water offers you something to concentrate on. Candles reflect on a crystalline sheet of water flowing across a mosaic mural of tiny iridescent tiles in the shape of a wave,
5. Morroccan Hammam and Laconium at the Mandarin Oriental
Staying in the forefront of what SpaFinder blogger Susie Ellis deems the “spa trend of the year for 2010” the Mandarin Oriental features a Hammam, or traditional Morrocan bath. These ancient communal baths, still used in Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa, follow a multi-step process that typically steps includes baths of varying temperatures, a salt scrub and bubble bath. The laconium, another borrowed tradition, is a lower temperature tiled sauna that uses low humidity air to raise the body’s internal temperature gradually without steam or extreme heat.
In all honesty, I have to say that none of these treatments does as much for me as a good strong massage and a soak in water as hot as I can stand. But each of these specialized features, with its claims of health-boosting benefits, deepens the spa experience by borrowing from a culture that has a deep respect for the relevance of wellness. We here in the U.S. can certainly use a little inspiration in that direction.