Thursday, November 6, 2008


12 hot spas that will deliver the goods for your next meeting or incentive trip.

By Denis Jensen

Anybody can book a Swedish massage or a run-of-the-mill facial at a local day spa. But how about a Native American body ritual or a chocolate ice cream pedicure? Caviar facial, anyone? Well, these treatments might be a little more difficult to find. If you have a group that you want to reward for a day (or even an hour or two) at a spa, check out one of these 12 destinations – and book a signature treatment.

HOT Destination
View Central Park, the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River from New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Located high above Columbus Circle, the hotel has 248 guest rooms and more than 93,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: On the 36th floor, the spa at Mandarin Oriental (shown here), is an Asian-inspired oasis. Guests are welcomed with slippers on a tray decorated with an orchid. There are separate male and female “heat experience” rooms equipped with large stone whirlpool tubs, an iridescent amethyst steam room with New Age music and a rain forest shower. There are six regular treatment rooms, a Tai yoga room, and a VIP couple’s suite.

Book This Treatment: Treat VIPs to the Time Ritual, a two-hour treatment that begins with a soothing foot bath. Attendees consult with a therapist on their needs and then receive customized exfoliation, massage and facial treatments ($410 for two hours).

Group Specials: Groups can book private Tai yoga classes followed by individual treatments or time in the relaxation room. Spa lunches and customized amenities can also be arranged.

HOT Destination
Austin, TX, is the setting for the Barton Creek Resort & Spa, which has 303 spacious guest rooms, including 16 suites and more than 43,000 square feet of flexible meeting and conference space.
The Spa: Located in the main resort building, The Spa at Barton Creek is connected to the health center and contains 27 treatment rooms.

Book This Treatment: The spa specializes in selecting a different product indigenous to Texas each month for its signature offering. For the winter months, for example, pumpkin and cinnamon-spice enzymes are used in treatments. Packages are named for their native flowers. For example, the Lazy Daisy package includes a therapeutic massage, facial, manicure and a pedicure, all using daisy oils ($350 for 50 minutes).

Group Specials: Options can include nutritional therapy, make-up consultations and indoor spa pool activities.

HOT Destination
The Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa in Indian Wells, CA, has 428 spacious guest rooms, 26 penthouse suites and 43 villas, plus 88,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space.
The Spa: At the resort’s Agua Serene Spa, incentive winners can sip lemon water and relax next to the trickling waterfalls at the reflection pool. Each of the 17 treatment rooms has a secluded patio and shower, plus a walled terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Book This Treatment: VIPs will love the signature Dessert Stone Massage, which utilizes porous hot stones from India, creating harmony and positive energy flow to relieve muscular tension ($140 for 50 minutes; $190 for 80 minutes).

Group Specials: The spa offers up to a 20% discount for groups, depending on the number of attendees. Customized activities include fitness classes, yoga or a fitness walk, followed by individual treatments and group lunches indoors or outside on the patio.

HOT Destination
The Trump International Beach Resort on Sunny Isles Beach in Miami offers 390 rooms, many with ocean views. The 22,000 square feet of meeting and function space includes the 5,075-square-foot oceanfront ballroom and 16 meeting rooms.

The Spa: The Aquanox Spa offers six private treatment rooms for massages, facials, hydrotherapy and waxing. The separate women’s and men’s facilities are complete with showers, steam room and sauna.

Book This Treatment: The Passport to Bliss massage begins with a star-fruit hand and arm exfoliation, followed by a custom foot treatment and a full-body Swedish massage ($168 for an 80-minute treatment).

Group Specials: The spa will work with meeting planners to customize group events. Options include a poolside yoga class followed by smoothies, or a spa luncheon followed by massages and a group happy hour.

HOT Destination
Surrounded by the red rock formations of Boynton Canyon, the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, AZ, offers 220 guestrooms, plus 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 8,000 square feet of outdoor sites.

The Spa: The resort’s Mii amo Spa is a separate pueblo facility with 19 indoor treatment rooms and five outdoor treatment rooms shaded by wooden trellises.

Book This Treatment: Help frazzled sales stars relax with Inner Quest, a treatment which uses plants sacred to Native Americans and is based on the four directions of the Medicine Wheel. Guests are wrapped in the Circle of Life blanket (to mimic the warmth of a Native American sweat lodge) as the therapist burns sweetgrass (to help cleanse negative energy) and incorporates it into a soothing massage ($205 for one hour).

Group Specials: Mii amo Spa can arrange group meditations, yoga, aerobics, mountain biking and cooking demonstrations with emphasis on healthful, balanced meals.

HOT Destination
Located in a quiet, palm-tree-lined neighborhood, The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills offers 285 guest rooms and suites, and meeting space of over 12,817 square feet.

The Spa: Located on the fourth floor, it includes eight intimate treatment rooms, and provides six cabanas surrounding the pool for guests who prefer outdoor pampering. The hotel also offers in-room massages, foot reflexology, full-service Swedish or deep-tissue massage, manicures and pedicures. The signature offering is the Kerstin Florian Caviar Facial Treatment – a luxurious facial loaded with protein-rich caviar and powerful antioxidants. Results are immediate, leaving the skin looking healthy and luminescent ($260 for 90 minutes).

GROUP SPECIALS: No group customizing is offered, as this is an intimate spa.

HOT Destination
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, near Charleston, SC, overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has 255 rooms and suites. The resort offers 14,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, plus the 18,500-square-foot Grand Lawn overlooking Kiawah’s private beach.

The Spa: With a total of 17,920 square feet, The Luxury Spa still manages to impart the sense of a grand Southern porch and garden by using natural elements such as trickling water, native wood and resident stone. Both the men’s and women’s lounges feature an aqua retreat complex complete with a mineral whirlpool, steam room and sauna.

Book This Treatment: The signature massage utilizes heated grain- and herb-filled wraps placed on key tension areas and muscle groups to increase the benefits of the therapist’s massage strokes ($165 for 60 minutes and $240 for 90 minutes).

Group Specials: While the Sanctuary does not offer discounts on spa treatment for groups, it does offer packages for individuals that are priced at a reduced rate. One example is the Sanctuary Journey, which includes choices of massage types, followed by a one-hour facial for $270.

HOT Destination
Located above Scottsdale, AZ, the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has 98 luxury casitas. Meeting space includes a 3,200 square-foot ballroom and two intimate lawns.

The Spa: Sanctuary Spa provides a menu of Asian-inspired treatments in 12 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms and a relaxation meditation garden and reflecting pond.

Book This Treatment: Luk pra kope (a massage with medicinal herbs) is a two-hour treatment which begins with a foot soak in a fresh lime and essential-oil bath. Then, feet are cooled and exfoliated with fine, white Thai clay. Finally, fresh lime and organically-grown herbs are massaged and pressed into tight muscles as part of an hour-long Thai massage ($260 for two hours).
Group Specials: The spa offers Pilates, Reiki and acupuncture sessions for groups.

HOT Destination
Located about a mile from Orlando’s Walt Disney World is the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel and Convention Center, which boasts 1,406 guest rooms and suites and 400,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibition space.

The Spa: The resort’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club has 25 massage, body and skin-care treatment rooms, plus separate men’s and women’s locker rooms with saunas. A Living Essential spa boutique and a fitness facility with cardiovascular and weight-training equipment are part of the complex.

Book This Treatment: Euphoria is a 100-minute treatment that begins with a massage accompanied by soft music and candlelight. An aromatherapy scalp massage is followed by a warm botanical body mask. After the mask is gently buffed away, the guest is immersed in a soaking tub for a revitalizing bath. This service concludes with a light, soothing massage, using warm, herb-infused oil ($250 for 100 minutes).

Group Specials: Service discounts depend on the size of the group and timing. Group fitness classes can be arranged.

HOT Destination
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, is a tranquil Nob Hill hotel with 336 guestrooms, including 60 suites and more than 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: Located on the hotel’s first floor, Spa De Vie has five treatment rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam and a coed Jacuzzi.

Book This Treatment: The spa’s signature treatment is the Caviar Pearl Anti-Aging Facial.The process lavishes one’s skin with caviar pearl extract, which is billed as producing a “botanical Botox effect” ($250 for one hour).

Group Specials: The spa offers customization and discounts to groups. The spa also offers chair massages after meetings, stretching and yoga classes and group jogs.

HOT Destination
Great Wolf Lodge, located in the heart of the Pocono Mountains in Scotrun, PA, is one of the area’s newest destinations. It includes 401 themed suites and a 91,000-square-foot indoor entertainment area featuring a grand-scale water park. The resort also has 6,670 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: The full-service Elements Spa Salon has eight treatment rooms with more than a dozen massage selections. Guests can relax before their treatments with soft music, aromatherapy candles and trickling water.

Book This Treatment: Inside the Elements Spa, the Scoops Kids’ Spa offers a chocolate-covered strawberry pedicure or manicure, where children soak their hands or tootsies in a real chocolate ice-cream fizz and enjoy a strawberry foot- or hand-scrub while eating ice-cream sundaes. ($35 for a 30-minute manicure; $45 for a 30-minute pedicure).

Group Specials: Discounts can be arranged by contacting the sales and marketing department in advance. They will also customize spa activities, particularly in the area of team building.

HOT Destination
Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ, is situated amidst lush hidden gardens, and resembles a Mediterranean villa. It has 119 casitas and guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: The Alvadora Spa features a two-level open-air facility with 10 treatment areas. Two heated stone tables are situated under custom overhead showers, and there’s a Watsu pool with an eight-foot grotto waterfall shower in a private garden terrace.

Book This Treatment: Alvadora’s signature treatment is a customized bathing ritual, where clients can choose from a bath in either mineral or botanical waters, followed by a light massage ($200 for 90 minutes – $210 on weekends).

Group Specials: The spa offers 15-minute chair massages (ideal for check-ins or coffee breaks) for $50 per therapist, meditations or stretch breaks, and private group fitness classes. Discounts and add-on services are available for groups of more than 10 ordering 60-minute services.

Denis Jensen is a Pennsylvania-based free lance writer.

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