Healthy Living: Spa Centric


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Go ahead. Take a deep breath, hold it . . . and release. It’s a simple enough exercise, one that takes mere seconds to perform. Yet how many times in your busy, busy day do you allow yourself that moment, let alone two, to breathe deeply and relax—especially this time of year? Not too often is our bet. There’s only one thing to do: We need to get you to a spa—and fast.

There’s no need to feel guilty. “People in New England are finally beginning to understand that spa treatments are not just for special occasions,” says Charisse Duroure of G Spa at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods—and you should join them. Think of it as “preventive care,” suggests Samantha Moore of Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun. A lifestyle as opposed to a luxury—one that teaches you how to be healthy and in control of your body (not to mention your stress level) now, rather than when you’ve landed in the doctor’s office. And, hey, if you’re being pampered in the process and look smashing, so much the better.

But where to go? What to do? No time to investigate? No worries. We visited spas and salons from one corner of the state to the next to talk trends and find out just what’s new, what’s hot and which treatments are most likely to make the biggest difference in your day. Take a look, book that appointment and don’t forget to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. 

What a lovely shade of green 

According to the International Spa Association’s 2010 U.S. Spa Industry Study, 85 percent of the 20,600 spas in the United States apply environmentally sustainable practices, whether via the use of organic products or treatments, recycled packaging, low-flow fixtures or LEED certification. Indeed, there’s a whole lot of green going on, agrees Elizabeth McCarthy of Aetheria Relaxation Spa in New Canaan. “It’s one more aspect of our everyday efforts to live in a more eco-friendly way,” she says.

The philosophy at Aetheria, which uses only organic products such as Éminence and Neal’s Yard Remedies, is “if you can’t eat it, why would you put it on your skin?” says McCarthy. Consider, for example, the “Intensive Moisture Facial,” which uses antioxidants such as lime, carrot, gingko biloba and calendula to combat pesky free radicals and drench your skin in some serious moisture. Dare we call it “yummy”?

In July 2009, The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook became one of the first hotels in the state to be officially certified a “Connecticut Green Lodging.” Its spa, says director Marie Baumuller, is an equally committed part of that green team. Organic product lines here also include Éminence as well as SkinCeuticals. For a treatment, you might consider the “Seascape Ritual,” which uses heated basalt stones and organic, sustainably cultivated seaweed (which, when steamed, produces some amazing oils) to relax and re-energize.

You of course know all about the fabulous antioxidants in that glass of red wine you had with dinner (that’s why you drank it, right?). Well, G Spa at MGM Grand just launched what it calls “Vino Therapy,” which applies the natural benefits of grape-seed extract to treatments like manicures, pedicures, masks and body scrubs (and you know your “winter” skin desperately needs one of those by now or “all that moisturizer you’re applying,” says Duroure, “will simply float on the surface”). Cheers.

New at The Spa at Norwich Inn in Norwich is the “Baborganic Facial,” which brings the outside in with naturally derived ingredients like mineral-rich Swiss glacial water and edelweiss, meadowfoam seed and white-lentil extracts. Charym in Litchfield offers an “Organic Skin Food Facial,” a holistic treatment that uses only “living raw, wild-crafted organic herbs and virgin cold-pressed oils.” As for what’s behind the red door, Cornelia Zicu of Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas in Darien and Groton lauds the avant-garde technology of a new “Microdermabrasion Facial” that contains an organic blast of flower petals and essential oils. Mother Earth approves.

It’s always about you, isn’t it?

And that’s exactly how it should be. “Now more than ever, clients expect a high degree of personalization and customization when they come to a spa,” says Helen Brown of the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington. After all, “It has to be about what the guest wants,” she says, “not what we think the guest needs.”

Take the “Mayflower Massage,” for example. The menu lists it as “a combination of rhythmic massage techniques and blended oils”—but no two Mayflower Massages need be the same. “Most people don’t want strictly Swedish or deep-tissue,” says Brown. “We can add in some reflexology as well, lymphatic or, if you’ve always wondered about stone massage, we can go get a few hot stones.” And, no, it will not affect the pricing.

“We give the therapists all the tools they need to customize each [treatment],” says G Spa’s Duroure. “You don’t need the ‘fancy-dancy’ names [and certainly not the endless lists of treatments]—you want what works best for you.”     

Aetheria takes things one step further with “Wellness Packages” that allow guests to purchase blocks of time and then use their sessions for whatever they feel will help them best achieve their own health/wellness goals: massages, facials, body treatments, nutritional counseling, private yoga, wellness workshops or any combination thereof.

Personalization is even extending to certain age groups and client bases: Both the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa and Elemis offer treatments especially designed for teens, and last winter, in partnership with the Echo Cancer Foundation, The Spa at Norwich Inn launched “The Fragile Client,” a series of treatments designed to serve those faced with medical challenges such as cancer and diabetes.

Obviously, gentlemen are always welcome at the spa, too—in most cases they even have their own menu. Witness Tranquility Mind and Body Wellness Spa in Milford, where tough guys who still enjoy the occasional mani or pedi will likely feel better about the fact that it’s called “The Sportsman,” and includes a hearty hand or foot massage.

Healthy Living: Spa Centric

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