Around the World in 5 Spas
Our small sampling of local spas offers exotic treatments worthy of a stamp on your passport.
If you have ever wanted to experience the dappled beauty of an Amazon rainforest, the sun-kissed swells of the Mediterranean, the sophistication of France, and ancient traditions from India and the Far East, you can — and all for less than the price of a first-class plane ticket! Five desert spas offer a virtual round-the-world tour of international healing rituals designed to please both the seasoned connoisseur and the first-time spa traveler. No need to pack a bag or reserve a seat. You can even purchase a souvenir from the spa boutique.
1 - BENVENUTO IN ITALIA
The Well at Miramonte Resort & Spa, Indian Wells
Spa adventurers will experience a sense of deep and undulating relaxation during a Mediterranean-inspired healing odyssey at this Tuscan-style destination spa. The Mediterranean Massage is one of four aromasoul massages from the exclusive Comfort Zone line, based in Parma, Italy.
The journey begins with a few drops of essential oil — an aromatic blend of basil, orange, lemon, anise, mandarin, and oregano — drizzled onto the spine. Next, a visualization session initiates a connection to water and a fluid-like state of inner joy. While meditative, water-inspired music plays in the background, the essential oil is combined with a jojoba oil base and applied to the entire body in inverted, wavelike strokes of threes to promote equanimity in body, mind, and spirit — and to induce a state of complete oceanic bliss. The escape concludes with a visit to the relaxation lounge or spa courtyard.
- Benefits: Rebalances the skin, revitalizes the senses, reduces tension and fatigue, and creates a space to soak up the warmth of Mediterranean culture.
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Cost: $130
- Contact: (760) 341-2200, www.miramonteresort.com
2 - BHARAT MEIN AAPKA SWAGAT HAI
The Spa at Desert Springs, A JW Marriott Resort
The ancient science and self-healing practice of Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and endures today. Ayurvedic philosophy prescribes a spiritual synthesis of mind and body and comprehensive guidelines to ensure balance of prominent energy patterns, or doshas: Vata (ether-air), Pitta (fire-water), and Kapha (earth-water). From shiro, which means “head,” and dhara, which means “warm stream of oil” comes Shirodhara, a powerful rejuvenative treatment that seeks to calm the mind and balance the nervous system.
To begin, a stream of warm oil infused with brahmi, lavender, and jasmine, from the Tara collection, is gently and continuously poured on the “third eye” (also known as the sixth chakra, the seat of insight and thought) for seven to 10 minutes. A stimulating scalp massage with herb-infused oils nourishes hair follicles and helps balance the endocrine system. A cleansing and hydrating blend of therapeutic herbs and essential oils is lightly stroked on the face, stimulating energy points, called marma. That’s followed by a soothing hand-and-foot massage with a choice of dosha oils, which generate total relaxation.
- Benefits: Conditions the hair (especially prior to chemical hair treatments), increases circulation in extremities, eliminates stress, and revitalizes the central nervous system. Note: not recommended during pregnancy.
- Duration: 50 minutes
- Cost: $115
- Contact: (760) 341-2211, www.desertspringsspa.com
3 - BIENVENUE EN FRANCE
French Body Polish
Spa La Quinta, La Quinta Resort & Club
Although the menu excludes baguettes and beaujolais, fear not: This classic cleansing treatment transports jet-setters directly to the luxury spa havens of France. Utilizing skin-care products from the premier Saint Malo-based Phytomer line, a thin layer of Exfoliating Body Gommage Cream is applied to the front and back sides of the body with invigorating care and gently removed using circular massage motions. A blend of active ingredients — diatomaceous earth, plant extracts, kaolin, and macadamia oil — simultaneously sloughs dead top-layer cells (hence the name gommage, which means “to erase” in French) and rehydrates the skin beneath.
The chic ritual finishes with a relaxing effleurage of the entire body and therapeutic massage around the neck and shoulders using Moisturizing Body Milk and an OligoForce Serum of choice.
- Benefits: Remineralizes and increases circulation and oxygenation to stressed areas and moisturizes and revitalizes dehydrated skin.
- Duration: 50 minutes
- Cost: $125
- Contact: (760) 777-4800, www.laquintaresort.com
4 - NIPPON HE YOKOSO
Estrella Bamboo Ritual Treatment
Estrella Spa, Viceroy Palm Springs
This idyllic spa experience renders a sensation of tranquility equivalent to visiting a Kyoto shrine. The Bamboo Ritual encompasses a full body treatment and Shiatsu massage utilizing Red Flower, a botanically inspired skin- care line developed and perfected in Japan around the principles of “ritual celebration, wellness, integrity and aesthetic.”
First, a yuzu mimosa sea algae wash prepares the skin for exfoliation. A gentle sloughing with ginger grass bamboo scrub exuviates dead skin and provides warmth, energy, and increased blood-flow capacity. This process is followed by wild cherry blossom rice milk warmly compressed over the entire body. The therapist then performs traditional Shiatsu massage using light kinmoxei wild lime oil. A delightful layer of plum blossom silk cream is lightly applied to the body to hydrate and soften skin.
- Benefits: From the balancing and healing properties of the yuzu citrus fruit to amino acid abundant bamboo and detoxifying ginger grass, these botanically derived potions deeply penetrate the skin, creating suppleness and energy.
- Duration: 120 minutes
- Cost: $250
- Contact: (760) 320-4117, www.viceroypalmsprings.com
5 - BEM VINDO AO BRASIL
Babassu Sugar Rub
Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs
Two Bunch Palms, the spa hideaway whose celebrity clientele includes Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, brings a touch of rainforest eco-consciousness to the desert via the Babassu Sugar Rub. Quebradeiras (women who break the babassu coconut) extract babassu oil from the fruit kernels of the majestic 40-foot palm. Organic skin-care line Inara purchases the ancient, indigenous moisturizer through an initiative forged with native women’s cooperatives in the southeastern Amazon region of Brazil.
For the exfoliation treatment, Inara’s Ignite babassu oil — a sensual fusion of bergamot, grapefruit, and jasmine — is blended with unrefined turbinado sugar and gently scrubbed on the entire body. Though the sugar is less abrasive than salt, aloe may be added for sensitive skin types. After the exfoliation comes a warm blanket wrap, a soap-free mineral shower, and a heavenly, 20-minute massage utilizing lemon, jasmine, or grapefruit oils.
- Benefits: Exfoliates, rehydrates, and seals moisture into the skin. Babassu is a superior emollient suitable for dry and oily complexions.
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Cost: $130
- Contact: (760) 329-8791, www.twobunchpalms.com