When it comes to spas, even the most devoted brand loyalist can be tempted to stray. And when that happens? Well, it's incredibly relaxing.
When you spend most of your career working for one of the top wellness retreats in the world, you're sort of ruined for good. Everything is measured to the highest standards, and your spa expectations become unreasonable. And although I am a Virgo, and therefore loyal to the end, during recent travels to Miami, Palm Springs, and San Antonio, I was taunted by the innovative spa offerings I found. The pull was too strong and resistance was futile. Besides, I told my wandering eye as it stared down the path of infidelity, monogamy cannot be sustained by any reasonable human. Anyhow, it turns out that when you cheat on your favorite spa, good things happen.
Watsu or Water Shiatsu
Two Bunch Palms
Palm Springs, California
Imagine floating weightless and being guided and stretched in a warm pool by a therapist whose hands keep you afloat and gracefully move your body into positions that open your mind and your heart to new possibilities. Now imagine this taking place on an energy vortex where earthquake faults, natural hot springs, mountains, wind, and solar energies all converge. If you can let go for just a moment, as I did, you may have a profound revelation. Or, at the very least, you will be as relaxed as a marshmallow melting in a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day. (60 minutes, $145)
Tip: Soak in the hot springs (or personal Japanese bathtub) and have lunch in the tree-filled dining room of Two Bunch Palms' stunning restaurant, Essense.
Âme Spa and Wellness Collective
Turnberry Isle Miami, Florida
Don't roll your eyes. You're not in for a typical scrub. The German hi-tech Gharieni Group installed their ultra-luxe spa beds in every treatment room in the newly renovated 20,000-square foot spa, including the inventive Quartz bed and the uber sleek Libra table, currently the only one in the United States. InStyle called these beds "the Rolls Royce of spa equipment" — for good reason. When I walked into the treatment room, I saw different colors dancing around the table. A wall of water jets sprayed down onto the heated water bed as music played. It's like the bed covers every technological advance, leaving the therapist only to focus on the treatment, which began with mine applying Natura Bisse's gentle bamboo scrub from top to toe. Countless overhead jets sprayed my body in a synchronized symphony as her hands did their own dance on my legs, arms, shoulders, and back. The whole time, my body rested on a heated pillow filled with water. At one point, I lost all sense of direction. If you had told me I was floating in space, I would have believed you. Nirvana. (50 minutes, $139)
Tip: Go early to take advantage of the spa's Wellness Circuit, which includes a Himalayan salt room and Swiss shower.
Rezilir Health at Âme Spa & Wellness Collective
Turnberry Isle Miami, Florida
Yes, another winner at Âme. At my last checkup, my doctor told me everything looked good, except for some dry skin (he recommended applying more lotion after each shower). Really? This is what's going to get me living the high life in the coming years? I turned to Rezilir Health, a team of physicians and nurses who have planted themselves into the spa environs and are available to meet with guests of the resort or anyone interested in a new way to optimize their wellbeing. In this service, a nurse clipped my ear lobe with a small cable connected to a computer to monitor my heart rate. She asked me to think about something I was grateful for. A sense of calm washed over my body. My heart rate slowed down, and I could see on screen how my thoughts directly impacted my physical form. Talk about demonstrating the mind-body connection. It was so simple, yet so profound, that I now call upon those same skills when I'm in a stressful situation. This is just the tip of the wellness iceberg. You can also get schooled on Brain Health (including early Alzheimer's Prevention and Reversal), Women's Health (Bioidentical Hormones, Post-menopausal), Advanced Functional & Genetics Testing, and even IV Infusions to combat issues like jet lag and the common cold. (60 minutes, $150)
Tip: Can't get to Florida? That's a shame. But not a problem: They can consult via Skype or another video conference option of your choice.
Loma de Vida at La Cantera Resort & Spa
San Antonio, Texas
The design by Blu Spas Inc may be outstanding, but nature rules at the new Loma de Vida Spa in Texas Hill Country. Sky lofts and treatment cabanas with incredible vistas accommodate parties of ten. My journey began as I walked through a sound tunnel to the entrance of the spa. It literally stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of my mantra: Slow and steady wins the race. I needed the reminder after a debaucherous evening of Mexican food and margaritas. But the silence biorhythm treatment got me back into balance. It began with an invigorating foot scrub of Himalayan salts, which emit negative ions that are then absorbed through the skin, creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. After the accompanying mud wrap and massage, I was energized, ionized, and ready to take on the world! Or, at the very least, sip on a glass of rosé by the infinity pool. (2 hours, $350)
Tip: Ask about Maggy JAMS. Instead of wearing a robe, you can wear luxe loungewear created and inspired by the director of spa and wellness, Maggy Dunphy.