The best part about travel is the opportunity to take in a culture and lifestyle that is different from your own. But you don’t have to book a history tour just to get a bit of local flavor. Resort spas in the U.S. and around the world are focusing on experiences that give travelers a true sense of place. Here are some of our favorite picks for unique spa treatments.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
In the Southwest, regionally themed resorts can sometimes border on hokey. Lucky for us, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North does Sonoran Desert chic right -- with colors inspired by bright Arizona sunsets and decor that is modern but still true to its location. This same philosophy carries over to its Spa at Four Seasons, where treatments incorporate ingredients indigenous to Arizona, like iron-rich Sedona red clay and prickly pear cactus. The Four Seasons in One is a brand-wide massage that started at the Scottsdale resort. It's actually a medley of techniques, including lomi lomi and Swedish, and begins with "summer" -- a vanilla-scented light massage. "Fall," "winter" and "spring" bring everything from a honey-oat exfoliation to warm linen wrap with playful notes of citrus and lavender. The final step in the 80-minute treatment, a highlight of the wrap, is a face massage with cool stones.
Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort
All of the 88 rooms at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, a boutique hotel on Mexico's Riviera Maya, have an ocean view -- a bonus in this lush area near Cancun. Spa treatments here focus on Mayan healing traditions. The Mayan Balsamic Ritual is designed to restore balance, with oils custom-blended to your preference. They're applied in a specific raindrop pattern along the spine, which is said to kick-start the central nervous system's self-healing powers. At the core of the ritual is a hot stone massage, whose relaxation benefits are reputed to last for up to a month. Ceiba's attention to detail is what really sets it apart, though. Every spa experience starts with a foot-washing ritual, and therapists are on hand immediately after treatments with hot tea and energy-restoring cashews. Enjoying it all in the lush outdoor relaxation lounge is the way to go.
The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas
Spa Helani at The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas is one of two Heavenly Spas on Maui, so you'll find the standard brand amenities we've all come to love. But this is Maui, which means you'll also enjoy earthy touches like bamboo flooring and a verdant meditation garden. Besides stocking green tea-grapefruit Heavenly Spa products, the retail area also sells items from local companies like Ola Organics and Malie. Lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus, all grown in up-country Maui, are put to good use in the Mehana Poultice Massage. The detoxifying treatment begins and ends with two different styles of massage -- acupressure and Swedish -- and you leave the spa with the poultice, which you can drop into a warm bath in the privacy of your own room. Couples will love the romantic Treehouse Suite, while parents and little ones appreciate the list of keiki-friendly spa treatments.
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