Anyone who has ever experienced the pure luxury of pampering at a spa knows that it is relaxing and rejuvenating. The options are seemingly endless with treatments for muscles, skin, nails, eyes and feet. In addition to the visible effects, treatments often incorporate aroma therapeutic oils and soft music that calm the mind and soothe the stress of our hectic lives. My personal favorite is the relatively customary Swedish full body massage, but there are some much less conventional spa treatments around the world that claim a variety of health benefits.
Bird droppings facial – At the Diamond Spa in Wailea, Maui Hawaii dehydrated nightingale droppings are an ingredient in a special facial designed to soften and smooth the skin. Historically, Japanese Geishas used nightingale droppings to whiten their skin and remove stains from delicate silk fabrics. Today users claim that it increases circulation and removes blotchiness in the face.
Chocolate body scrub – The Spa at the Movenpick Hotel in Phuket, Thailand offers a signature couple’s treatment that begins with a 30 minute chocolate body massage from feet to neck. Next you shower the chocolate off and soak in a milk tub for another 30 minutes. After you are fully moisturized, the therapist finishes with a long, deep Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Loving Hands massage, in which the forearms do most of the work. Beyond the romantic implications, the chocolate has moisturizing and anti-oxidants benefits.
Dark beer bath – The Chodovar Beer Spa in the Czech Republic touts the benefits of the vitamins and proteins in a bath enriched with active beer yeast and dehydrated crushed herbs. Participants have a 20 minute soak in a warm bath, then 25 minutes of cozy bed rest wrapped in a fleece quilt. The treatment is followed by a 50 minute massage, leaving the skin and hair regenerated and the body rejuvenated.
Leech therapy – At Elemental Embrace in Brighton, Ontario Canada leeches are used as a blood detox. Leeches are attached for 30 – 60 minutes to suck the toxins out of the blood. Treatments are said to help osteo-arthritis, inflammation, hair loss and anti-ageing. The treatment is administered by a trained professional and is supposedly not painful.
Snake massage – In the village of Talmey El’Azar, Israel you can relive sore muscles and joints by having six non-venomous snakes slither your stiffness away. California and Florida king snakes, corn snakes and milk snakes do all the work and snake farmer/aesthetician Ada Barak claims the effects are soothing.
Fire cupping – This traditional form of Chinese acupressure can be obtained at the Oriental Taipan Spa in Beijing, China. Glass cups are heated and place on the skin which generates suction. The process is credited with curing many ailments from muscle pain to the common cold, but it does usually leave circular bruises on the skin from the suction.
Fish pedicure – In Sivas, Turkey you can soak your feet or even swim in natural thermal pools inhabited by hundreds of “doctor fish.” The fish don’t have teeth, but they do nibble – a lot. They feed on the dead skin which is particularly helpful for those suffering from psoriasis or eczema.
Bull semen hair conditioning – Hari’s Salon in London, England has an organic concoction of protein rich plant roots and bull semen that supposedly strengthens hair and makes it shine.
Arctic Ice Room – The Qua Baths & Spa (www.harrahs.com/qua) at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas, Nevada has a communal glass and tile room that is basically an anti-sauna. Eight spa-goers can sit on a heated bench in the 55 degree room while synthetic snowflakes fall from the ceiling. Fans say the cold therapy, after a stint in a hot tub or sauna reduces hypertension and tightens pores.
24-Karat Gold Facial – The Eldorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico offers a facial that is not only for the rich and famous, although the $475 price tag is. A gold-flecked serum is applied to lift and tighten skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It also supposedly slows down collagen depletion that causes sagginess and helps fade age spots.
If you want to expand your spa experience, try any of these unique treatments. Be sure to check with your doctor first if you have skin conditions or are pregnant. I’ll probably stick with my Swedish massage, but do let me know how you enjoyed your bizarre spa treatments so I can live vicariously!