Fast facials, the "spa-rty" and other spa trends

BETH J. HARPAZ
The Associated Press
Modified: August 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm •  Published: August 26, 2012
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Parties at the spa, treatments for stressed and time-pressed consumers, cross-cultural traditions, and a whole lot of purple — from lavender-scented treatments to mauve nail polish — are some of the trends and services that were shown off at the annual International Spa Association meeting held Aug. 16 in New York. Here are some details:

SPA-RTY: Rejuvenation at the spa need not be a solitary pursuit. "A trend we've been seeing is private events called 'spa-rtys' getting booked in the spa space — for weddings, corporate events, etc." said Lauren Clifford, a spokeswoman for the Regent Palms Turks and Caicos, which has a 26,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor facility at the Caribbean island resort.

Aspira Spa, located at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wis., is also seeing gatherings of friends, colleagues, sorority sisters and even multi-generational families for group events at the spa, says general manager Lola Roeh. Roeh's recently married daughter Shannan "didn't do a traditional shower, but had a spa shower instead. Guests had a spa service, then gathered back for lunch, then had another service and got together in the whirlpool to relax."

CROSS-CULTURAL: Massage aficionados may be familiar with Thai massage techniques in which practitioners walk on their clients' backs. Miraval, a spa located in Tucson, Ariz., turned heads at the spa meeting with a demonstration of a form of Thai massage called Naga ($215, 50 minutes) in which therapist Peter Bird was suspended above his client, holding on to white silk ropes wrapped around his arms. He varied the pressure of his feet and legs on the client's muscles by using the ropes for balance and to move up and down.

"A lot of people think they're going to be sore afterwards but they're not, because the pressure is deep but soft, not sharp," said Bird, who studied the technique in Thailand and says holding the ropes makes it easy for him to balance his weight.

Kohler Waters Spa, based in Kohler, Wis., is introducing a ritual inspired by Middle Eastern hammams in which guests are robed in traditional Turkish towels called pestemals, bathed in warm water poured from a copper bowl, then scrubbed with an exfoliating mitt. "Kohler is known for water and bathing products, so this is a service that's ritualistic and water-based, offering quiet and relaxation," said Linda Machtig, Kohler's group marketing manager.

At Gwinganna, a retreat in Queensland, Australia, about an hour from Brisbane, Aboriginal influences are incorporated into a stress-reduction treatment that includes listening to didgeridoo music while the therapist shakes a rainstick and applies smooth, hot black basalt stones to the body. "We're looking to switch off the stress responses," said Gwinganna marketing manager Tracy Willis.

STRESSED AND TIME-PRESSED: In a hurry? A new facial treatment called HydraFacial available in 2,000 spas nationwide offers five procedures in 15 minutes: exfoliation of dead skin, a gentle acid peel, pore-cleaning, hydration with antioxidants and application of moisturizers and sunscreen. The treatment runs $135-$175 depending on location.

"There's no downtime, and you get instant results," said Alex Ignon, director of HydraFacial marketing. Brides-to-be can have the treatment a day before the wedding without worrying about a side effect of reddened skin.

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