Jet lag hits me hard every time I fly overseas, but after a particularly rough bout of it on a trip to Sweden this summer, I surrendered myself to Låt Kroppen Lätta Lite, a new antidote for time-zone zombies offered at the Nordic Spa and Fitness, in the Grand Hôtel of Stockholm. Loosely translated as "Feel Lighter and Revitalized," the massage employs gentle, vibratory movements over the limbs, back, and belly to release toxins and promote blood circulation ($193 for an hour, grandhotel.se/en). It's no deep-tissue shiatsu, though. When I asked for a bit more elbow grease, my practitioner refused. "Since our lymphatic system is just beneath the dermis, going too deep compromises lymph flow," she explained. An hour later, the grog fog happily lifted; I was glad I hadn't insisted.
Ever since, I've been on the hunt for spa treatments around the world, that rely on local methods. Here, 11 to check out.
Stress Relief massage, Hotel Esencia, Xpu-Ha, Mexico Hotel Esencia
The ancient Mayans knew how to quell stress with a massage. This treatment begins with the ancient cleansing ritual, “limpia,” where incense derived from the resin of the local Copai tree is believed to protect against ill will, bad luck and evil eye when its smoke is blown over the body. Essential oils of basil, rosemary and rue are then gently brushed on, followed by a pressure-point massage using a house-made tonic of local soft bark cinnamon, allspice and rosemary focusing on areas that hold stress like neck and back. If only it was available everywhere.
Deep Cleansing & Pore Refining Signature Facial, Omorovicza Boutique and Spa, Budapest, Hungary [Omorovicza] (http://www.omorovicza.com/us/)
Budapest, Hungary, could easily be considered the birthplace of facials. This homegrown brand taps the mineral-rich properties of its local Moor mud (also a star in its brand’s famous Moor Mud Cleansing Balm) to detoxify and gently exfoliate skin. The facial ends with a sensational facial massage, done in hearty Hungarian fashion, so your complexion can’t help but feel instantly lifted and firmer.
Herbal Wrap, Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico Rancho La Puerta
Sage, rosemary, white sage and eucalyptus grow like weeds all over Rancho’s property, so it stands to reason that its kitchen shares the abundant harvest with the spa in this calming and moisturizing body treatment.
The Voodoo Ritual, the Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, Ritz Carlton
The mystery of voodoo is put to good use in this body treatment. Incense fills the room, nearly competing with the intoxicating blend of absinthe, cypress, moss and vetiver essential oils that are massaged in, certainly banishing any pesky, unwanted spirits.
Choornaswedana, Ananda in the Himalayas, Ananda Spa
Loosely translated as the “bundle massage,” the treatment begins with hot herbal poultices placed along the back to encourage “therapeutic sweating.” A toxin-eliminating massage follows with dosha-specific oils meant to increase circulation and alleviate muscle pain and stiffness.
Natural Detox Hay Therapy, Lanserhof Tegernsee, Marienstein, Germany, Lanserhof
Imagine having your entire body slathered with an aromatic cocktail of hay, birch, juniper, olive oil and honey. And then it gets better. You’re wrapped in gauze, then gently eased onto a soft-packed hammock type of bed that rests atop a steaming bath. A canopy of foil goes over you to keep all that steam in and seeping into your skin. 20 minutes to a half hour later, you’re rinsed off. Then, just in case you haven’t been lubricated enough, finish it off with a dip in an oil-infused bath under chakra lights. This treatment gives a whole new meaning to “a roll in the hay.”
The Zareeba treatment, The Spa at The Palms Turks and Caicos, The Palms
This herbal cleansing and detoxification body ritual is a Caribbean cure-all known to alleviate rashes, colds, fever, muscle pains and nausea. After sipping an herbal tea brew of therapeutic herbs, the body is first blanketed in a cooling wrap, then massaged to eliminate toxins. You’ll never want to get off the table.
Crystal Healing Ritual, The Mulia Spa at The Mulia & Mulia Villas, Bali, The Mulia
Designed to help restore energy and re-balance chakras, natural quartz crystals are implemented during this Balinese body and scalp massage meant to clear negativity and relieve jet lag.
Thai Herbal Infusion Ritual at the Spa at Phulay Bay, Krabi Thailand, Phulay Bay
After a foot cleanse ritual and body exfoliation, an accupressure massage with warm essential oils follows while herbal poultices filled with invigorating ginger, lemongrass and lime (or opt for the balancing poultice of jasmine, peppermint and clove) are strategically placed to warm up muscles. Don’t worry about getting too hot, though. A quick facial follows using cool compresses to firm skin, but with a simultaneous scalp massage using traditional Prai oil going on at the same time, you’ll happily adjust to the cold compresses.
Traditional Asian foot massage, The Spa at Kamalaya, Thailand, Kamalaya
Traditional Thai Massage is based on the discovery of ten invisible Sen energy lines which move through certain pressure points along the body. After bathing feet in a soak of therapeutic herbs like ginger, lemongrass, bergamot and the indigenous antioxidant-rich Plai, its various pressure points are worked on to activate nerve reflexes, which kick the body’s organs and tissues into action, while simultaneously calming the mind.
Lat Kroppen Latta Lite, Nordic Spa & Fitness, Grand Hotel, Stockholm Grand Hotel
A deep tissue massage, this ain’t. Loosely translated as “Feel Lighter and Revitalized”, this massage tackles jet lag with gentle, vibratory movements over the limbs, back and belly in such a way that releases toxins and promote blood circulation. If you feel too light, there’s always Mathias Dahlgren’s Michelin-starred restaurant just upstairs to fill you up.
Man I Pit manicure/pedicure, Vair Spa, Borgo Egnazia, PugliaCalling this just a manicure/pedicure is like calling Puglia’s olive oil just cooking oil. Olive oil is actually used in these treatments, along other local delicacies like sea salt (for exfoliating with the oil), fresh lemon to soften rough spots, then fig milk which limbs are wrapped in. And since this is a spa, the massage part of the treatment is an extra long one…
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