The Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage at Connecticut’s Winvian Farm Spa might look like a bit of a circus act, but it feels like sweet relief. A therapist uses parallel bars hung from the ceiling, working with gravity to walk on clients’ backs. Thought to have originated in Kerala, India, over a millennium ago, the practice flushes out inflammation, improves flexibility, releases trigger points and reduces stress in the body — all while minimizing the potential for bruising that can occur with traditional deep-tissue massage.
Vibration healing is increasingly popular in wellness circles, and the Meera Spa at Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives has created a particularly appealing version. Its Tibetan Singing Bowl treatment — a sort of sonic massage in which therapists also use their thumbs, palms and forearms in a rolling motion — is said to spread sound waves through tissues, relaxing the central nervous system and calming the body and the breath. It makes an excellent complement to the spa’s yoga and meditation offerings.
Brave the cold to increase endorphins and blood flow at Miraval Berkshires Resort and Spa in Lenox, Mass. The two-hour Alchemy of Resilience: Breathwork, Mindset & Cold treatment, led by outdoor guide and spiritual coach Mark Gerow, includes deep guided breathwork, meditation and visualization, followed by a two-tothree- minute cold dip in a pool kept at 40 teethchattering degrees. Afterwards, guests gather at the firepit before warming up in the sauna, steam room, shower or hot tub.
BALEARIC ISLE BIOHACK
Six Senses Ibiza’s RoseBar Longevity program offers a host of new tools meant to turn back the clock. After a “real age” assessment, epigenetic testing, hormonal measurements and genetic-risk profiling, doctors and nurses create individualized programs, including cryotherapy, Cellgym intermittent hypoxic training (a breathing practice alternating normal and oxygen-reduced air), osteopathy), pulsed electromagnetic therapy, compression therapy and body rolling.
With its zen-like treetops and endless gardens, California’s Spa Aiyana at Carmel Valley Ranch is the perfect place to get centered. Its Hypno-Health: Wellness for Mind & Spirit treatments target the usual suspects — anxiety, sleep issues and weight loss — via guided self-hypnosis sessions. Bee Epstein-Shepherd, Ph.D., leads her patients in intense concentration and focused-attention exercises to achieve a heightened state of awareness. Afterwards, she provides clients with a recording of their session, so they can continue their work at home.
Get out of the treatment room and into the Arizona wild with L’Auberge de Sedona’s L’Apothecary Spa’s Connecting With Nature – Shinrin-Yoku. Inspired by Japanese rituals, the forest-bathing practice takes place under the property’s canopy of sycamore trees and beside its flowing Oak Creek. Guests spend 60 to 90 minutes responding to movement prompts and various natural sounds — with journals provided to reflect on the experience. The spa says the treatment reduces blood pressure and stress, boosts the immune system and improves sleep.
SPLITTING HAIRS IN SANTORINI
Perched over Santorini’s iconic caldera, the Kallos Spa at Andronis Concept tackles hormonal and digestive health with the diagnostic power of just four strands of hair. Administered by medical doctor Zulia Frost, the Cell Well-being Hair Profiling Test takes just 20 minutes and promises to evaluate 800 key wellness indicators, pinpointing imbalances and detecting toxicity in the body. Dr. Frost customizes nutritional guidance and recommends spa services such as massage, bodyscan meditations, Kundalini dance, sleep yoga and bathing pool sessions. Andronis.com
Deprivation is hardly a word that comes to mind at the Flow spa at Patina Maldives, but its Float Pod and Dream Scapes Therapy involves exactly that. The one-hour service removes natural light and gravity, suspending guests in an Epsom salt-filled flotation tank heated to 96.8 degrees (matching skin temperature). Once ensconced, bathers experience what the spa calls “dream scapes” — a combination of sounds, music and guided imagery intended first to relax the consciousness and then engage the subconscious — reducing anxiety and pain.
INTO THE WILD
Roar Africa’s Deborah Calmeyer dreams up individualized wellness treatments as part of her bespoke safari tours. Her latest, Human Rewilding in Kenya, begins at the Segera Retreat with a holistic Healing Hands deep-tissue massage — a blend of African techniques for soothing sore and tired muscles. It’s followed by a visit to the Rasul Steam Tower to revitalize the skin, a deep breathing session in a tropical garden, a restorative sunset nature walk, and a moonlit dinner at the Nay Palad Bird Nest. The experience concludes with sunrise yoga. Namaste, indeed.
For the ultimate detoxifying massage, head to Brenners Park Hotel in Germany, a resort that also offers medical care. Its Villa Stéphanie Spa’s one-hour Cupping Therapy starts with a full-body massage to relax and soften the muscles. A therapist then applies cups to the back and legs, creating suction, which is said to improve blood and lymph circulation, encourage toxin release, clear colon blockages and aid digestion. Book it as a stand-alone treatment or as part of the hotel’s intense, three-day immune-boosting program.
THE NEW WAVE
Dive into Mexico’s Banyan Tree Mayakoba Spa, where the new Wave Stretch Asianinspired hydrotherapy treatment riffs on Watsu water therapy. Working in a private villa pool with a view of the jungle or a lagoon, a therapist uses slow stretches and guided meditation before embarking in a series of cradling, lengthening and massage techniques, all performed in water heated to 91.4 degrees. For more H2O healing, explore the spa’s Swiss rain and bucket showers, its rainforest walking trail and aroma steam room.
Holistic wellness is all well and good, but sometimes beauty junkies just want fast results. The new spa at Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Dana Point, Calif., promises just that, with its luxurious Black Diamond Nonsurgical Face Lift. The intense 90-minute anti-aging and collagen-stimulating treatment uses exfoliating peels, serums and masks (incorporating fine black diamond particles and quartz) — as well as facial massage techniques — to lift, plump and volumize the skin.
Visit an ancient cave-like cenote in the Dominican Republic’s Eden Roc Spa by Natura Bissé for a Reiki Energetic Massage. Working with energy fields and very little touch, the shaman identifies energy imbalances, laying her hands over specific energetic points, or meridians, on the body and placing small healing crystals over each corresponding chakra, or energy center, along the spine. The treatment also includes sound therapy via healing music, therapeutic singing bowls, Tibetan tingshas and chimes.
Possibly this year’s most relaxing wellness treatment, Drift to Sleep at Florida’s Ritz-Carlton Naples Spa is nearly two blissful hours of doing very little. Intended to fight sleep deprivation and its attendant ills, the service includes a calming sea-salt body scrub with almond oil and lavender; an aromatic milk bath with Japanese camellia oil and oat extract; breathing exercises; reflexology and a relaxing massage. It’s all followed by 30 minutes of sleep under a luxury weighted blanket said to increase serotonin production.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
The Baccarat Hotel New York has created the ne plus ultra of time-conserving massages, ideal for a city that prizes efficiency above all else. Its Spa de La Mer’s Four-Handed Massage, an hour or 90-minute treatment, employs two therapists working in sync. A customized menu offers a choice of oils (including relaxing lavender or energizing lemongrass), warm stones and pressure level. The therapeutic team provides guidance on breathing techniques, acupuncture points, and maintaining your zen long after you leave the spa.