Virtual Dolphin Therapy
La Quinta Healing Arts
Being landlocked by the desert doesn't stop spa-goers at La Quinta Healing Arts Spa in California from enjoying the motion of the ocean. The Palm Springs-area holistic healing center offers Virtual Dolphin Therapy.
updated 10/22/2009 11:00:35 AM ET 2009-10-22T15:00:35

In the market for a little new-fangled spa therapy? Gone are the days of simple cold cream and Swedish massage. Nowadays, ailments like sore muscles, lank locks and sallow skin are being remedied with diamond elixirs, full-body fish therapy, and — yes — golf ball massages.

Spa culture has moved from basic treatments, such as classic facials and massages, to a growth industry where, it seems, anything goes, from goat yogurt facials to products with unexpected ingredients, such as maple syrup, olives and dates.

But before spending a fortune on a treatment, it pays to ask the therapist about the ingredients and find out if any studies are available to confirm (or deny) what the treatment promises to accomplish.

From birth to adulthood, there are a wealth of healthy spa options, many of them bizarre beyond borders. Make that “before” birth. For the unborn spa goer, there is a prenatal 50-minute Mammina massage for the mom-to-be at the Meritage resort in Napa, Calif.  It’s part of the “babymoon” package as a last hurrah before  baby arrives.        

So here goes:

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Ariz., offers a massage with warmed golf balls designed especially for tired golfers. The massage therapist kneads tight muscles with the balls with the goal of alleviating tension.

Organic ingredients have a longer history of providing health benefits. Now, though it's considered a luxury by some in Japan, spreading dehydrated nightingale droppings on your cheeks doesn't exactly scream "beneficial, " but geishas have been looking up at the skies for centuries, and spa owners have taken note.

Equally healing help can be found underwater, courtesy of a school of hungry freshwater kangal fish. The ultimate vacation prescription for those who believe in the power of fishy cures,  Kangal Hot Springs in Turkey has the perfect bait.

Vinotherapy Wine and Honey Wrap
Caudalie  /  Caudalie
Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux, France, has perfected the grape cure thanks to grapeseed extract from the vineyard’s Cabernet crop.
The thermal pool can accommodate up to 5,760 spa goers daily. Curing skin diseases is the responsibility of the fish as they gently nibble away at dermatologically challenged areas on your body. Who could ask for anything more?

Although you wouldn’t want to sit on one of those prickly cacti in Baja, you can enjoy the benefits of their hidden healing powers  if you sign on for the Nopal Desert Wrap in banana leaves at Las Ventanas Al Paraiso.

Thighs and sighs aside, this is one heavenly way to combat the aftereffects of too many late night tequila shots. As for the ultimate spa elixir for beer imbibers, they can sip their favorite lager while immersed in a tub-full of active beer yeast and a mixture of crushed herbs at the hops-happy Chodovar Family Brewery’s spa at Chodovar Plana in the Czech Republic.

Japanese Enzyme Bath
Cedar Enzyme Bath
A waterless bath for those who appreciate a Japanese approach to stress management is yours at the Osmosis Spa 60 miles north of San Francisco, specializing in an enzyme cedar bath containing 60 active enzymes imported from Japan. After your woodsy dip, check out the Meditation Garden with koi pond, waterfall and swaying bamboo.
Goldiggers and others with flair for the bizarre will find unabashed bliss in gemstone skincare treatments on the menu at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach, Fla. The decadent and delightful Body Ritual treatment uses a cache of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls to rebalance  troubled chakras. For après-spa therapy, an elixir of gemstone-infused water and plant extracts is said to promote “purification.” 

Cabernet facials and French Champagne manicures aside, depending on where you are in the world, the spa menu will often reflect indigenous ingredients, but if they seem too exotic for your taste, try a patch test first to make sure you will not have an adverse reaction. Whether you’re a businessperson looking for a unique mid-meeting break, or a fan of the far-out looking to take a trip to spa nirvana, ready your plush robe. We’re spanning the globe on a quest seeking the best and weirdest healing techniques.


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