All of my spa experiences have been relaxing to say the least, but as a reviewer and writer on spas, I’m also looking for unique and creative spa environments and treatments.
Writing about “just” a massage or facial that I have had is a treat, but visiting a spa or receiving a spa treatment that is different than anything I have yet to try, makes the writing experience more fun. Here are a few that stand out as unique to me and probably even more so to a new spa-goer…
** Spa Solage, Calistoga (Napa Valley), California
Spa Solage is not your typical spa. Here, the inside is actually the outside. The relaxation area is just outside the spa treatment rooms and has heat lamps when necessary, but otherwise the breeze flows through the space while you await your next treatment. And each treatment room is not within an enclosed spa; visitors enter the treatment rooms from the outside bathhouse area.
It’s not just the refreshing spa environment that makes Solage unique, but also their treatment selection. Two treatments particularly stood out to me that were different from any spa I’ve visited. The first one is actually an “add-on” to any spa treatment; it’s called the “Solage Power Nap.” Now, I know that spas are all about relaxation, but when I saw “nap” on the menu, I thought, “Well, I can do that at home.” But … of course I had to see what it was all about. With this add-on, I reclined in a state-of-the-art sound/vibration chair which enhanced my relaxation and calmed my state of mind. The menu states, “You’ll associate a whole new meaning with the term ‘power nap.’” I don’t even remember falling asleep and slept like a baby for 30 minutes. Talk about relaxation and rejuvenation.
The second unique experience at Solage was the mud treatments. Calistoga is known for mud baths and mineral springs, but Solage has a “mud bar” where, with the assistance of a spa attendant, visitors can visit the mud bar and pick essential oils to enhance the healing benefits of the mud. After putting the mud all over the body and allowing it to hydrate or detoxify, visitors then soak in a mineral bath and then lounge in the sound/vibration chair. I loved the creativity of this three-part series Solage calls the “Mudslide:” “The Mud” (Cleanse), “The Waters” (Nurture), “The Rest” (Restore).
** Spa Terra, Napa, California
Wine country in Napa Valley should be known not only for its vino, but also its unique spa settings. I consistently write about and refer to Spa Terra as one of my faves. It’s a spa cave built into the hillside of a vineyard. On entering the cave, there’s a wine-tasting room to the right, and visitors enter the spa to the left. The lighting and mood of the cave is cozy, warm, and nurturing; it’s completely the opposite feel of an open-air spa like Solage mentioned before. Italian prosecco or wine is served before and after spa treatments (yes, I’m serious!). Quite honestly, I could hibernate in the spa cave all year.
** Terme Sensoriali at Terme Di Chianciano, Tuscany, Italy
I lived in Italy for three months and visited a handful of amazing spas. But as far as “unique” goes, one experience comes to mind. I had ventured to Chianciano (pronounced kee-on-chee-ono) to visit one of the many Termes (natural thermal hot springs with healing waters). Chianciano is only about an hour south of Siena toward Rome.
Once I arrived at the spa, I had a spa attendant guide me through different aspects of the spa such as the sauna, then the chromatherapy (color therapy in the hot tubs). Then my attendant instructed me to rest in the relaxing area which was an egg-shaped pod that simulated being in the womb. I walked into the “pod” and thought it was nothing special, but the sound in the egg was faint … and relaxing. So I sat down and, no kidding, two minutes later I passed out! I woke up 20 minutes later and was so surprised how the “womb” had such an effect on me falling asleep. Once again, I am stumped by a spa treatment lending me some shut-eye.
** Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai, California
“Unique” also implies an experience outside of a specific spa treatment, so how could I not mention a “spa health” journey at a spa. A few years back, I was invited to Ojai Valley Inn – a resort spa consistently ranked top in the spa world. Its backdrop is amazing green rolling hills, beautiful Spanish style architecture, and a charming spa with amazing treatments to offer. However, this visit I didn’t indulge in a single treatment. Instead, the spa was highlighting their spa lifestyle classes. I attended a yoga and chocolate tasting workshop. Now, I’m more of a pilates gal than a yogi, so when we had to participate in a yoga class before the chocolate tasting I was a bit “inflexible.” But the downward dog definitely inspired me to look forward to that chocolate truffle tasting afterward. I would call that a “unique” spa experience for sure.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]