Mango Mania

It used to be that apples, oranges and bananas were the only kinds of fruit many Westerners were willing to sample. Today, our tastes have expanded, thanks in part to the savvy marketing of superfruits like pomegranates. Another new favorite that also happens to offer super health benefits is the mango. The U.S. is now the world's leading importer of fresh mangoes, accounting for around one-third of the fruit's total imports. According to experts at the University of Florida (Gainesville), U.S. consumption of mangoes has been increasing steadily for years. Though many of us have had mango, and it is now easily found at most supermarkets year-round, the fruit's tropical origins still hold an exotic appeal. It's usually the foreign, warm-weather feeling evoked by mangoes that is the main attraction of including mango treatments on a spa menu.

At The Spa at Doral at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa (Miami), guests are crazy about the Awaken Scrub ($135, 50 minutes). "This treatment is very popular for our guests who travel down from the north, particularly in the winter," says spa director William Arango. The service starts with a citrus and mango scrub, then a quick rinse, and ends with a massage using a mango body balm. Arango points out that mangoes are grown only in warm climates (with India being the leading producer of the fruit), which explains why many guests find that the "tropical scent takes them on a journey to a tropical paradise," he says.

Another noted benefit, though, is the treatment's power to smooth and soften the skin. Mango is often used in exfoliating services that aim to slough away dead cells and reveal the fresh, glowing skin below. The fruit is a good source of gallic and caffeic acids, both of which help gently smooth away rough spots. "If guests have sensitive skin, it's not going to irritate it at all," says Danielle Knerr, spa director at The Spa at Norwich Inn (CT) of its Cocoa Mango Body Buff ($70, 25 minutes). This treatment—which includes a mango scrub under a Vichy shower, followed by an application of a cocoa-mango soufflé lotion—is offered year-round, but the spa also offered seasonal services last summer that featured mango as a star ingredient. The summer menu additions included the Surf and Sand Mango Body Polish ($70, 25 minutes), the Surf and Sand Mango Body Wrap ($125, 50 minutes), and the Surf and Sand Mango Manicure and Pedicure ($75, 50 minutes). "The results and smell really take you to the beach, so you feel more relaxed—like you're on vacation," says Knerr. "Lots of people asked that they be put on the menu year-round, so we'll definitely be bringing them back this summer."

And summer is the perfect time to offer mango treatments. Mangoes are loaded with the potent antioxidant beta-carotene (hence the fruit's orange hue), which researchers have shown can reduce damage caused by UV radiation. Mango spa services may also help build up the body's antioxidant stores. At Creative Day Spa (Ocean City, MD), beach-bunny guests can try the Mango Facial ($85, 50 minutes), a service that starts with a mild mango peel followed by a mango mask and a mango moisturizer. "We try to use products that follow the island theme of our spa," says spa director Sandy James, who also praises the mango's natural alpha hydroxy acids, which effectively exfoliate and rejuvenate the complexion.

Another beneficial component of the mango is its fatty acid content. The fruit contains oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids, all of which aid in keeping skin supple and soft. Mango butter in particular offers extreme moisturization. Similar in composition to cocoa and shea butter, it's also made in a similar manner—by extracting the butter from mango kernels and then heating it to get the appropriate consistency. At The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, weary travelers can rest and renew both spirit and body with the Pure Indulgences ($245, 2 hours) signature service. The treatment involves a jojoba pearl polish, which is followed by a buttermilk bath and then topped off with a massage and wrap using mango and cocoa butter, honey, and orange oil. "Flying is extremely dehydrating and dries out the skin very easily," says spa director Helen Greene. "This treatment allows the skin to have a nourishing drink." Spa-goers can further quench their thirst with the mango smoothie that is offered at the end of the treatment.

The menu at Coldwater Creek The Spa (Santa Rosa, CA) includes a Mango-Ginger Sugar Scrub ($90, 50 minutes) that entails a loofah body brushing, a mango-ginger sugar scrub, and a mango-ginger body butter application. "This service leaves your skin feeling refreshed, renewed, and noticeably softer and more luminous," says spa director Alison Abbott. When someone has a special event or a big night out, this is the service she says many female guests turn to for skin that looks radiant and healthy. Abbott does add, though, that the service is popular with both men and women because of its gender-neutral scent, which is fresher and slightly sweeter than floral.

Mango's Mass Appeal
Mango's Mass Appeal

Aside from the usual marketing methods of announcing mango treatments in a newsletter or using signage around your spa, offering mango drinks, teas, or even slices of fresh mango is a great way to pique the interest of those who are less familiar with the fruit. Sending guests home with mango-infused spa products (like those featured in the sidebar) can also introduce them to the scent as well as the benefits of the fruit for their skin. And, of course, highlighting them during the spring and summer is sure to bring in spa-goers who are looking for a taste of the tropics—something we can all appreciate.— Megan O'Neill