Spas have come a long way from offering traditional facials and massages. In fact, hotels and resorts with spa facilities are enticing guests with unusual services, and the public is hooked. Although quirky, all treatments provide the spa-goer with benefits that she otherwise wouldn't experience in typical health and wellness environments. We rounded up the world's weirdest spa treatments that give visitors a new approach to wellness -- in the most unusual way, of course.
Asheville, North Carolina, is a progressive, mountain town with (allegedly) 21 vortexes that lure the bohemian/spiritual set. So it's only natural that quirky spa treatments abound. At the 99-year-old Grove Park Inn, haunted by the Pink Lady ghost on floors 3 and 5, the 25,000-square-foot subterranean spa features the 80-minute-long Color Light Wrap with Aura Imaging treatment.
After a full-body, colored-clay exfoliation, guests enter the Sunspectra 2000 Color Pod table rigged with music, vibrating massage, infused with essential oils and full-spectrum lighting to achieve balance and harmony. With a high-tech, light-sensitive Aura Imaging camera, the therapist will then take a photo of your aura (varying wavelengths of the energy field are translated into colors, then displayed in your picture). She’ll then analyze your aura for you.
Have a fear of flesh-nibbling fish? This treatment may not be right for you. A hit in Southeast Asia, fish spas have made their way to Mexico, most particularly Riviera Maya. At Le Blanc Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico, the spa imported garra rufa (or "doctor fish"), a species native to the Middle East that nourish themselves by feeding on human skin's cells.
The fish softly remove dead skin cells from the surface of the feet without touching any other layers and deep-cleans the pores. The fish nibblers are said to exude an enzyme that slows the return of skin problems (like acne). It's a whole new kind of pedicure experience, lasting 25 minutes. Sidenote: While the risk of infection is minimal, it never hurts to stay up on the facts and ask the spa about their hygiene practices.
The Atlantic Resort and Spa
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall -- and 6 bottles of beer in the tub. At the Atlantic Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, guests can truly indulge in suds -- in more ways than one. The Citrus Suds Body Cocoon & Bath Beer Treatment starts with a signature beer-body exfoliation, then a body wrap with a beer-citrus concoction comprising fresh, citrus fruit and local orange blossom ale beer (during the wrap, the guest also receives a beer hair and scalp treatment).
Finally, the guest submerges into a soaking tub filled with 6 bottles of orange blossom ale, citrus-based foaming suds and fresh grapefruit, orange and lemon. Beer yeast, as it turns out, is rich in elements that increase skin elasticity, alleviates acne by suppressing sebum and has proven to have antibacterial properties. Talk about catching a buzz!
There's nothing particularly strange about a body wrap, but it's the background of this treatment offered at Fordoun Hotel in South Africa that's quite unusual. Strict orders are given by the spa's very own sangoma (spiritual advisor) and inyanga (traditional herbalist), who ensures centuries-old tradition is infused in the 75-minute African Earth Experience. Tradition is part of the experience: The local community gathers clay only at a full moon, and only by pre-menopausal girls or post-menopausal women.
Then, 2 old ladies on the farm boil the raw clay for 3 days and then form them into balls. Add rooibos tea, aloe vera, essential minerals, marula oil, artemisia, African potato and wild dagga (which is cannabis!) and you have a cleansing and nourishing wrap created from indigenous traditional healing plants based on the theme of the 7 chakras and 7 colors of the rainbow.
Angkor Wat may be the top attraction in Siem Reap but massages by blind men are all the rage. Visitors can find visually impaired masseuses in town but most head to Amansara's lavish spa, where the blind men are hired to treat spa-goers in a more comfortable environment, for a 60-minute spa session.
Without sight, the blind men have a heightened sense of touch, finding all the tight muscles and kinks in the guest’s body. An accompanying foot massage relieves any feet tension from morning temple tours. Amansara pays the blind therapists 4 to 5 times more than they would make at a budget massage parlor in the main town, so everyone wins with this treatment.
The Asian Deep Therapy Massage or, as the 50-minute treatment is more universally known, ashiatsu, is not the most common massage treatment in the United States, but athletes love it when they can find it, no matter how weird it is. With bars attached to the ceiling, the therapist uses her feet to heavily stroke the back, legs and glutes, a move which releases toxins and stimulates the body's natural healing capabilities.
It's also the deepest massage treatment available in the world. Often, the elbow used in a deep-tissue massage can only go so far, but a foot has more reach, not to mention more comfort. It's just that you have a woman hanging from the beams, walking all over your body with her bare feet.
Sedona is so spiritually active that most area spas fall in theme by offering holistic treatments that embody the metaphysical properties of the destination. At Hilton Sedona, the 90-minute Full Circle treatment is inspired by the indigenous, spiritual view of the "4 directions." It begins with an aromatherapy meditation to discover the guest's intuition, then unfolds with various modalities with the purpose of creating wholeness, including massage, energy balancing and visualization.
Most therapists are certified to practice "energy medicine," and some gravitate toward a work path that utilizes intuitive and psychic ability. Not weird enough? More often than not, the therapist will receive or intuit information regarding body armoring and how it is connected to emotions, holding patterns and belief systems to the specific person.