3 Unique Spas: Las Vegas, Khaolak, Istanbul

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When vacation time is at a premium what better way to maximize relaxation than with a day at the spa? On hitting your destination, an aromatherapy massage can be just the thing to help ease the transition from our 24/7 connected lifestyle. Before you depart, a luxurious, pampering treatment might help pave the way back to civilization and leave you with a sense of well-being that lasts long after the vacation ends. The average spa treatment might not be all-powerful, but a well-timed spa visit often provides the oasis of calm we need from time to time. Here are three unique spas and treatments to soothe body, mind, and spirit.

Canyon Stone Massage at Canyon Ranch Las Vegas

The Canyon Ranch Spaclub is nestled between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels, but it’s a world away from the garishness that marks so much of Las Vegas. The large spa never feels crowded, and the public areas are soothing and calm. Cell phones and electronics are banned throughout the facility, even in the locker rooms. A salt grotto in the co-ed public area and the herbal laconium in the women’s spa are two unique offerings, complemented by the usual steam room, Finnish sauna, and hot tub. During the 80-minute stone massage the therapist uses heated, smooth river rocks to work into the muscles of the back, arms, and legs, and even gives a little attention to the tummy. Toward the end she places cool stones between the toes and finishes the treatment with a gentle face massage. With numerous attendants, plenty of relaxation areas, and high-quality toiletries, this spa excels on details, as well.

Thai Massage and Pedicure at Khaolak Bhandari Spa, Khaolak, Thailand

The beachside town of Khaolak has no shortage of lovely, affordable hotels with spas, and as in most Thai beach towns there are inexpensive massage huts and shops everywhere. Set deep in the Khaolak Bhandari Resort, the Bhandari Spa is surrounded by fountains and makes the most of its lush, tropical location. While many treatments are offered in private rooms, the main treatment area for Thai-style massage, pedicures, and foot massage is located in an open pavilion where several patrons receive their services at the same time. On arrival, after crossing the bridge over a lily pond, each guest is offered a refreshing iced tea and a cool towel. This ritual marks your entry into the serene beauty of the spa. Those receiving a treatment in the pavilion change into comfortable fisherman-style pants and a loose linen top and then take their place on a thick, cushioned mat. Afternoon treatments are often accompanied by a rainstorm, and the cool breeze and patter of raindrops enhances the deeply relaxing environment. While the Bhandari Spa doesn’t offer complimentary steam rooms or hot tubs, it offers an incredible environment and the legendary smiling Thai customer service. All services end with a steaming cup of ginger-honey tea, enjoyed on a deck overlooking the spa’s gardens and lily pond.

Zevk-i Sefa at Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ayasofya Hamam boasts a magnificent location: directly between the Blue Mosque and the Ayasofya in the Old City of Istanbul. It’s in just the right place for an early evening treatment after a long day of sightseeing. Built in the 16th century by the renowned architect Sinan, this Turkish bathhouse boasts the traditional treatments with a modern twist, all offered in a beautifully restored marble bath with stunning domes overhead. The traditional Turkish bath involves bathing with hot water poured from golden bath bowls, resting on a heated marble slab for about 20 minutes, and the famous scrubbing using a rough silk mitt. It’s not for the demure, as your bath attendant gets up close and personal with everything. A rich bubble wash and gentle soap massage complete the experience. At Ayasofya you can add even more luxury, and the Zevk-i-Sefa also includes a full body clay mask (complete with another bubble wash), and a luxurious oil massage given in a private area near the top of the bathhouse dome. Watching the late afternoon light transition from light blue to deep navy through the pinholes glass in the dome is relaxing all on its own.

Photo: Hurrem Sultan Hammam, courtesy of Satayman, via Wikimedia Commons

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