updated 4/2/2007 10:06:21 AM ET 2007-04-02T14:06:21

Less than a decade ago, a South African "spa" was little more than a Jacuzzi, and beauty treatments were limited to facials and "pedis." But with the advent of tourism (not to mention high-flying new émigré arrivals), pampering has become a multimillion-rand industry, with numerous options. Here's a roundup of the best.

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Best Urban Retreats
Situated on Mouille Point's trendy Beach Road, with views of Table Mountain and the sea, Sérénité Lifestyle Rituals (tel. 021/434-2950; www.serenite.co.za) is a minimal, light-filled space that combines stone, wood, steel, glass, and slate with a palette of sorbet shades. After a Self Renewal Ritual (R590/$88 for 2 hr., including a body polish, hot sheet wrap, and "chakra" massage), grab a light bite at the adjoining bistro. Located on the first floor of the Waterfront's Commodore Hotel, S.K.I.N Care Clinic (tel. 021/419-3090; www.skinonline.co.za) offers slick, fuss-free interiors and personal attention. The Ayurvedic Head Massage (R300/$45 for 45 min.) is recommended, as are the full body scrub and Dead Sea Mud wrap and steam (R365/$54 for 1 hr.). Alternatively, head for the Camelot Spa (tel. 021/406-5904; www.suninternational.com/resorts/tablebay) at the Table Bay Hotel for a diverse range of treatments -- a "holistic stir-fry" to give you that get-up-and-go after a long-haul flight; the Ayurvedic treatment (R400/$60 for 2 hr.) is recommended. The Spa at the Cape Grace is African-inspired, offering exotic options like the Thaba treatment: an application of intelezi (a heavenly aloe vera and eucalyptus gel) to the ankles, wrists, biceps, and head by two therapists who then use a knobkerrie (a traditional African stick) to relieve tension and stimulate muscle tone. For 360-degree city views, you can't beat the 19th floor of the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel, where you'll find Altiraspa (tel. 021/412-8200; www.arabellasheraton.com/capetown); try an hour in the state-of-the-art Hyrdothermal Capsule, followed by a Balinese Synchronised Massage and a steam bath, and then cool off in the pool before kicking back on a giant waterbed overlooking the city -- whew! The newly opened Angsana Spa at the Vineyard Hotel (tel. 021/657-4500; www.vineyard.co.za) is where you'll see Capetonians in the know leaving fresh-faced and in the pink. Managed and created by the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa team, it's stocked with Thai therapists who offer divine treatments like Ibu's Secret (R480/$72 for 90 min.), a full-body massage followed by a jasmine and frangipani body polish.

Best Winelands Spa
Located on the Simonsvlei Road between Franschhoek and Paarl, Santé Winelands Hotel and Wellness Centre (tel. 021/875-8100; www.santewellness.co.za) is a super-size spa with all the frills (even the showers have settings that range from tropical rain to mountain mist, infused with aromatic essential oils). But the main attraction is the a la carte menu of signature Vinotherapy treatments that utilize the antioxidant property of grapes.

Best Seaside Spa
What more could you want than to succumb to the ultimate relaxation while looking out to sea? The best place to do so is at the exclusive Birkenhead House Spa, where you can choose from a variety of holistic massages (on the deck overlooking the bay or down on the beach below), body polishes, and specialized skin-care treatments. In Cape Town, The Sanctuary Spa (tel. 021/437-0677; www.12apostleshotel.com) at The Twelve Apostles, which lies between mountain and sea on the stretch between Camps Bay and Llandudno, offers seven Eastern-inspired treatment rooms built inside a grotto using natural materials like stone and wood. If you want to check out the seaview, ask for an outdoor massage around the pool.

Best Medical Spa
Cape Town Medi-Spa ([tel) 021/422-5140; www.float.co.za) is functional and understated, not big on decor but focused on offering you the best of both worlds: modern medical techniques (there's a resident plastic surgeon, homeopath, dermatologist, and GP) and ancient Eastern healing (an assortment of body treatments, plus yoga or Pilates).

Best Health & Weight-Loss Spa
If your main aim is to lose weight as well as improve your sense of well-being, head for St Francis Health Centre (tel. 046/625-0927; naturecure@imaginet.co.za) in the Eastern Cape. A 6-day course (R4,686/$699; includes a personal consultation, cleansing diet, swimming and aquaerobics, daily steam baths and massages), and you're guaranteed to return home looking better than you left.

For more on what to see and do in Cape Town, visit our complete guide online at www.frommers.com/destinations/capetown/.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.


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