The Art of Massage


(Journey of Sense and Balance)

Where: The Spa at Squaw Creek (Olympic Valley, CA)

Time: 80 minutes

Price: $145

Products: Babor Scentao

To cultivate calmness before the client even hops on the massage table, a therapist generously mists Scentao's soothing body splash in the room for an aromatherapy blast. Once the client is on the table, the therapist proceeds to use long, broad Swedish-style massage strokes along with ginseng, ginkgo, and green tea massage oils and hot stones. The grand finale is another Babor splash (this time on the client's indulged body). Afterwards, the client is offered a cup of green tea and a fortune cookie.

Gemstone Energy Massage

Where: Sundara Spa (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

Time: 60 minutes

Price: $85

Products: Ayoma

"This balancing treatment jump-starts energy and mental clarity," says spa director Robert Gerbing. At each of the client's energy flow points or chakras, a therapist places seven gemstones across the body (the client is face up for the duration). When stones are settled (from black onyx on the first chakra under the navel to cornelian and rose quartz higher up the torso), the therapist massages the hands and feet. According to Gerbing, stones may vibrate as they interact and cleanse the system. "We tell clients to just relax and enjoy it," he says.

Hydrotherapy Massage

Where: Milagro Spa at the Atlantic Club (Manasquan, NJ)

Time: 60 minutes

Price: $65

Products: Dedeorand Aromessence

De Bain

This underwater massage is performed with a wand while the client lounges (swimsuit-clad) in a warm, aromatic tub. After a 15-minute hydrotherapy soak, a specially trained water therapist starts massaging lymph node areas (legs, upper and lower back, hip area, and neck) with a wand to stimulate the release of toxins.

As the tub chills and the client's body temperature drops, he or she is energized with cold compresses along the neck and forehead.

Cascading Stone Massage

Where: The Spa at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

Time: 80 minutes

Price: $240

Products: Napa Valley

Two specially trained therapists work in complete unison to magically combine relaxing warm basalt (volcanic) rocks with chilled marble stones to create the ultimate therapeutic treatment and choreographed dance. The client turns over halfway through the treatment and the alternating hot and cold rush (one therapist uses warm basalt rocks while the other uses chilled marble), along with the indigenous Napa Valley moisturizing oil, leaves the client feeling simultaneously invigorated and profoundly relaxed.

Bamboo Awakening Massage

Where: Spa Mystique at the Century Plaza Hotel (Los Angeles)

Time: 50 or 80 minutes

Price: $90 or $135

Products: Biotone

The treatment begins with the client laying face-down as the therapist briskly taps a fan-like bouquet of raw bamboo along the bottoms of the client's feet and across the body. Next, the client is whisked for 10 minutes before the therapist performs a more traditional Swedish massage to awaken muscles and joints and to stimulate blood to rush to the skin's surface. This allows the therapist to palpate deeper, using therapeutic strokes. "Bamboo stimulates blood flow in a relaxing way-perfect for sore muscles, lower back pain, and stress," says spa director Mitch Jucha.

Tibetan Sound Massage

Where: The Claremont Resort & Spa (Berkeley, CA)

Time: 50 or 80 minutes

Price: $120 or $152

Products: Naturopathica

Based on the ancient Tibetan practice of using sound vibration for healing and meditation, this unique treatment combines traditional massage with sound waves resonating from ancient Tibetan bowls. After first massaging an area, a "singing bowl" is placed on and around that spot. Each bowl produces vibrations to restore balance and alignment to the body's energy centers, transporting clients to the deepest levels of calm and spiritual development.

Barefoot Massage

Where: Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt (Beaver Creek, CO)

Time: 75 or 90 minutes

Price: $165 or $195

Products: FX and custom oils

In what is known as Ashiatsu Bar Therapy (an ancient form of Asian bodywork), the therapist holds on to an overhead bar and uses deep, pressure-point motions on the back of the client's body using his or her own foot maneuvers. "The therapist is able to execute very firm strokes using body weight and fancy footwork," says spa director Mary Gunderson. Once the client turns over to face up, the second half of the treatment consists of Swedish and stone massage, which adds up to a three-way ticket to luxury.

The Philadelphia Freedom Hot Towel Infusion

Where: Spa at the Four Seasons, Philadelphia (Philadelphia)

Time: 80 minutes

Price: $150

Products: Naturopathica

An aromatic infusion bowl is placed underneath the face cradle to initiate inhalation therapy as the first hot towel is placed on the client's back. After the therapist uses compressive strokes with his or her palms through the towel, lavender oil is massaged directly into the client's skin. Once both legs and the back have been treated, the therapist places a hot towel horizontally over the legs and rubs them briskly to create friction. Next, the client turns over for more of the same on the other side. The finale comes when a cool washcloth is placed on the client's forehead, eyes, and nose, and the therapist performs a head, neck, and scalp massage.

Apres Massage (Apres Bike, Apres Hike, Apres Climb, Apres Ski)

Where: Aspen Club & Spa (Aspen)

Time: 50 or 80 minutes

Price: $105 or $160

Products: Tara Spa Therapy

To tackle active muscles in a deep-tissue massage, the therapist mixes "sports" oils, which relieve overused muscles and achy joints. The strokes are sports-specific, so the therapist pays particular attention to the lower back and hamstrings for Apres Bike, for example, and to the hips and thighs for Apres Ski. The therapist also applies warm "Herbal Ease" packs to the back and neck and slips warm mitts on hands and feet after treating these stressed-out areas.

Indies Escape Massage

Where: The Indies Spa at Hawk's Cay Resort (Hawk's Cay, FL)

Time: 80 minutes

Price: $150

Products: Pevonia

This massage combines the therapeutic pressure of a deep-tissue massage and the light, relaxing touch of a Swedish massage. Before starting, the therapist asks the client several questions to determine how to personalize the experience for his or her specific needs. To begin, the therapist warms up the client's muscles with a light, all-over touch. Then the therapist focuses on specific problem areas with a deep-tissue massage. Next, the client is treated to a 15 to 20 minute foot reflexology massage. After the foot massage, the therapist lightly massages the client's entire body one last time and ends the treatment with a face and scalp massage.

Desert Ridge Massage

Where: Revive Spa at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort (Phoenix)

Time: 90 minutes

Price: $180

Products: Kerstin Florian

Paying tribute to tired tootsies, this treatment starts with a mineral salt footbath while a therapist rubs the client's temples with lavender and peppermint oils. This is followed by a eucalyptus foot scrub, which re-mineralizes muscles and joints.

Feet are then sprayed with neroli water (excellent for moisturizing skin in the arid climate), followed by an aromatherapy massage. The therapist may use oils extracted from indigenous Sonora Desert plants including rosemary and eucalyptus. Pampering ends with an application of foot balm.

Ton Ton Amma Experience

Where: SpaHalekulani (Honolulu)

Time: 75 or 105 minutes

Price: $180 or $230

Products: Ton Ton pounders

This Japanese-style rubdown uses "amma" massage and round pounders (ton-tons), which target the belly of the client's muscles in a rhythmic motion. The client lies on his or her side and is supported by a special full-length pillow while the therapist begins Keisatsu (flowing, gentle strokes). Amma follows in a thrice-repeated rhythm of increasing pressure along the back and arms. The massage continues along legs and feet, then the client turns to the other side. Each guest keeps his or her ton-ton as a souvenir of this energizing experience.

Powder Massage

Where: The Palms at Palm Springs (Palm Springs, CA)

Time: 50 minutes

Cost: $75

Products: custom

This willowy powder massage, which does not clog pores, uses gentle, almost feather-light strokes to stimulate nerve endings under the skin. These strokes create a state of deep relaxation that melts away the client's stress. The full, head-to-toe massage (the client turns over halfway through) leaves skin cool and refreshed with no oily residue.

Australian Aboriginal Massage (AKA "The Dreaming")

Where: The Spa at Turnberry Isle (Aventura, FL)

Time: 120 minutes

Cost: $240

Products: L'Tyia

Designed to rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul, this exotic treatment incorporates body massage, a mini-facial, a hair masque, and hand and foot treatments, all using techniques from Australian Aboriginal tribes.

The treatment starts with a massage in which the therapist uses counter-clockwise spirals down the front of the client's body to the feet and then back up to the crown. After a Pink Desert Salt footbath, desert salts and Mapi Body Mud is applied to the client's body in a rhythmic and flowing pattern. After the client showers off the mud, the therapist performs a head and scalp massage using the client's choice of aromatic oils.