If you’re like the average spa-goer, you’ve probably had a basic facial or massage, but you may not have tried something more adventurous such as Reflexology or a Craniosacral treatment. What about a bit of Traditional Chinese Medicine incorporated into a massage to balance your body, mind and soul? The following treatments go beyond the ordinary and bring a whole new level of relaxation, rejuvenation and wellness to those looking for more variety in their spa experience.
El Segundo Blue at The Spa at Terranea
6610 Palos Verdes Drive SouthRancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
The Spa at Terranea is one of my absolute favorite spas. The location alone can’t be beat. Perched on a cliff in Palos Verdes, overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean, you’ll feel as though you’re far away in some tropical island or the Amalfi coast. The gorgeous and spacious, 50,000-sq.-ft. oceanfront Spa, Fitness and Wellness Center offers a variety of restorative therapies and services.
Inspired by Terranea’s coastal location, the El Segundo Blue treatment is a perfect choice. This 90-minute treatment begins with a slow and rhythmic massage, followed by a blue clay body mask, a wrap and a Vichy shower treatment. The cool, sea-blue mineral clay from France has powerful detoxifying properties and is very effective at drawing out toxins from the skin. As you’re wrapped up in a cozy cocoon, you’ll be treated to a heavenly head and scalp massage and become blissfully relaxed.
After your treatment, be sure and order lunch from the Spa Café, dine al fresco and enjoy the stunning ocean view. The Bento Boxes are a new and popular addition to their menu. You can choose from several selections of salads, sushi and tapas, to make a customized lunch. It’s tough to leave such a beautiful scene, but knowing this local “getaway” isn’t far away certainly helps.
Chuan Balancing Massage at The Huntington Spa
The Langham Huntington, Pasadena
1401 South Oak Knoll AvenuePasadena, CA 91106
My favorite treatment, a Chuan Balancing Massage, took place at the recently renovated Huntington Spa at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena. What makes this spa stand apart is the unique addition of Chuan Body + Soul, which incorporates Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) services into some of their treatments to provide a comprehensive wellness experience – the best of “East meets West.” It is one of the only luxury hotel spas in Los Angeles to offer such treatments.
The principles of TCM include the five life elements: fire, earth, water, metal and wood. Guests are given a questionnaire to assess which element is out of balance. (Mine happened to be metal on that day.) A private label, custom blended oil is used for that particular element to help restore balance and harmony. Acupressure is also incorporated to help release tension and promote circulation. My therapist, David, was highly skilled and knew the exact points to press on my body to get my knots of tension to dissolve. Afterwards, I felt calm and rejuvenated – a perfect balance of body, mind and soul.
Reflexology at The Spa at Four Seasons Westlake Village
Two Dole DriveWestlake Village, CA 91362
As soon as you step inside the Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, it’s easy to see why it was voted as one of the top spas in America by Conde Nast Traveler. The 41,000 sq. ft. spa is designed with Asian influences, including bamboo floors and a red Chinese footbridge that connects orchid-accented lounges with peaceful water features. The spa menu offers 30 face and body treatments, in addition to several alternative medicine treatments. Comprehensive programs in health, wellness, nutrition and fitness are offered at the California Health & Longevity Institute next door to the spa.
Enjoy your treatment in one of 28 beautifully decorated treatment rooms that include a private terrace or have a completely pampering spa experience and rent a luxurious spa suite where you can opt to have your treatments in the privacy of your room (with facials being the exception). The suite is absolutely amazing with dual fireplaces, massage tables, indoor/outdoor therapeutic spa tubs, a day bed, a flat screen television and a Vichy shower complete with amenities. You can order lunch and enjoy dining outside on your private patio.
I decided to try Reflexology, a traditional Chinese practice where pressure is applied to specific areas of the hands, feet and ears, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body, encouraging healing and renewed energy flow along the meridians of the body. This type of indirect massage is perfect for those who don’t like their full body to be touched and is also a good treatment to tack on to the end of a facial or massage. I found it to be relaxing, but since I love deep tissue massages, I would probably opt for an Advanced Therapeutic massage next time.
Anointing at Spa Montage
Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon DriveBeverly Hills, CA 90210
Feel like a queen for the day and get anointed at The Spa Montage in Beverly Hills. The serene spa’s Moorish design and cool color palette is complemented with elements of nature and water throughout, creating an aesthetically pleasing ambiance. The treatments offered also reflect this blend of past and present, nature, technology and culture of traditions.
The Anointing treatment is 90 minutes of bliss and relaxation. A pure infusion of the essence of rose is used in a centering massage that concentrates on the chakra energy centers of the body. As you breathe in the floral aroma, your therapist will use broad, circular strokes drawing you into an almost-hypnotic state. Your body will feel silky-smooth after being anointed and your crown is not forgotten as you receive a deep conditioning scalp massage with products from Kim Vo, celebrity and resident stylist at the Montage, that will leave your hair feeling royal and luxurious.
The treatment culminates with a multi-head Vichy Shower Rain Therapy of contrasting temperatures. The cold water, while shocking at first, has many benefits, including stimulating the lymphatic system to jumpstart the body’s healing and balancing processes.
Spa Montage is also a great place for an indulgent getaway for the day.
Craniosacral Therapy at Exhale Santa Monica
Fairmont Miramar Hotel + Bungalows
101 Wilshire BoulevardSanta Monica, CA 90401
Having been impressed with the deep tissue massage I received at Exhale Santa Monica, I decided to return to try a Craniosacral therapy, which is becoming more and more popular throughout spas in Los Angeles. This gentle modality can have a profound effect and works at the deepest levels of the central nervous system to effectively remove accumulated blockages within the brain that restrict the flow of cerebral spinal fluids. The cradling of the head is subtle, but facilitates deep meditative states, which depend upon how much the recipient is willing to let go and relax. My therapist incorporated some wonderful massage work into my neck and shoulders as well, which further enhanced my experience as I slipped into a deep meditative state.
This spa is a real gem. Therapists are very in-tune and highly skilled – most have been practicing at Exhale for over a decade. The prime location is also a big plus – a peaceful walk along the Santa Monica cliffs is a perfect way to re-enter the real world and let the effects of the spa treatments really soak in.
Liz Laing is a writer, web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on LizLaing.com.