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Customized spas know how to rub travelers the right way

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



The average hotel spa used to consist of little more than a couple of converted guest rooms offering basic massages and maybe the odd manicure.

Not anymore.

“There really is a spa for every sort of traveler — and a spa experience that can be customized to fit you,” said Mary Bemis, editor of Organic Spa Magazine.

Whether you’re a newbie or a pampering pro, an adrenaline-junkie or a foodie, there’s a retreat out there for you — even something for the family that wants to spa together.

Here are a few of the country’s top picks, which include new openings and noteworthy favorites.

For Couples:Tempo Miami

Opened in December, this stylish 56-room hotel is in Miami’s downtown design district — close to restaurants, nightlife and shopping but away from the frenetic South Beach scene. In the 8,000-square-foot RockResorts spa, couples can unwind in the steam, sauna and outdoor whirlpools before being pampered in a duo suite outfitted with a soaking tub and floor-to-ceiling views of the water and skyline. In keeping with Tempo’s musical theme, signature treatments sport lyrical names like Melody and Sonata. The couples-focused, 21/2 -hour Adagio (translation: slow and graceful) relaxes couples with a soothing 80-minute Swedish massage, followed by a soak in a rose petal-infused bath. A split of champagne tops it off. Doubles start at $249. Adagio package $385 for two; tempomiami.rockresorts.com.

For Adventurers:Spring Creek Ranch

This sprawling property on a wildlife sanctuary perched 1,000 feet above Jackson, Wyo., puts an active spin on the typical spa experience. In the Call of the Wild treatment, guests start with a short hike (or in winter, a snowshoe walk) to pick fresh herbs. Therapists then use a massage oil featuring those same herbs for your Swedish or deep tissue rubdown. (The actual herbs you pick also get infused into an oil sent to your home about a month later.) In addition to fitness services offered through the Wilderness Adventure Spa, the resort boasts an array of activities, including horseback riding, geocaching, heli-skiing and dogsledding. Doubles start at $170. Call of the Wild service $250; springcreekranch.com.

For the Eco-Conscious:JW Marriott San Antonio

Think a 1,002-room, 600-acre property — complete with 18-hole golf course and water park — can’t be eco-friendly? Think again. JW Marriott’s first resort, opened early last year on the outskirts of San Antonio, manages to be both full-service and green. Only 15 percent of the property is developed; the rest is maintained as a nature reserve. The resort’s LEED-certified buildings were made with local materials and utilize “windtricity,” along with other earth-friendly touches. The 30-room spa includes an aromatherapy inhalation lounge, hydrotherapy tub and a menu of natural and organic treatments. The Texas Herbal Remedy includes a chamomile scrub, wildflower bath, and pine-scented massage; and native sarsaparilla, honey, black silt clay and tobacco are used in the Texas Sarsaparilla & Coffee Bean body experience. Seasonal ingredients — many grown in the resort’s own organic garden — also are used in the spa’s Replenish restaurant. Doubles from $249. The 105-minute Texas Herbal Remedy service $240; jwsanantonio.com.

For the Goal-Oriented:Mii Amo at Enchantment Resort

Surrounded by the red-hued rocks of Sedona’s Boynton Canyon, this decade-old Arizona destination spa has a devoted following for its tailored programs aimed at helping guests do everything from quit smoking and lose weight to sleep better and deal with loss. (Their unofficial, oft-repeated slogan is, “It’s all about you.”) Unlike some other program-oriented spas that have doctors and medical facilities on hand, Mii Amo takes a more body-mind-spirit approach. Before guests arrive for their three-, four-, or seven-night programs, a spa concierge contacts them to determine their goals and help choose appropriate activities and treatments. The 12-page spa menu includes flower baths, herbal detox wraps, blue corn body scrubs and 11 types of massage, as well as unique experiences like aura cleansings and astrology readings. Activities range from hikes, yoga and Zumba to organic gardening classes and cooking demos. Exercise physiologists can create a custom workout and nutrition plan based on your metabolism, and experts are on hand to help guests work through emotional, stress-related and even spiritual issues. Doubles from $1,990 for a three days, including all meals, activities and six spa services; miiamo.com.

For the Foodie:The Water Club at Borgata

Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. The sleek Immersion Spa — set on the 32nd and 33rd floors of Atlantic City’s boutique Water Club hotel — offers a gourmet spa menu created by New York City celebrity-chef Geoffrey Zakarian of Food Network’s “Chopped.” Guests can order their meals at check-in and then enjoy them post-treatment in a spa suite or by the 80-foot infinity-edged pool. Treats like tuna burgers with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled ginger, blueberry parfait with crushed pumpkin seeds, and turkey wraps with cranberry relish are packaged in special Japanese-style Bento boxes. Chocolate and tea also are served before and after services, which include food-themed treatments like milk-and-honey body wraps and espresso-mud scrubs. Doubles start at $249; thewaterclubatborgata.com.

For the Spa Junkie:Spa Montage, Deer Valley

Debuting last December at one of the country’s top ski resorts in Park City, Utah, this deluxe facility has even the most seasoned spa vets lining up for appointments. The 35,000-square-foot place has 29 treatment rooms (including two Serenity Suites with balconies, fireplaces and oversized soaking tubs), an indoor mosaic-tiled lap pool with underwater music system and an outdoor sundeck with heated floors. Drawing on its stunning mountain location, the spa menu highlights indigenous alpine ingredients and therapies influenced by the native Ute tribes. Aspen bark extract, propolis and pine might be used in massage, while fresh mountain water plays a part in treatments like the 90-minute Transpiration with a re-mineralizing bath, friction scrub and rhythmic massage. The two-hour Transfer-ation package, meanwhile, draws upon vibrational frequencies, crystals and healing silver rods in an effort to balance body and mind. Every service includes a short, guided session on proper breathing and relaxation techniques. Doubles start at $345. Most 90-minute spa services are $230; montagedeervalley.com.

For the Gang:Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Whether you’re traveling with parents, kids or a group of friends, the spa at this historic resort north of Los Angeles has you covered. The recently renovated 28-room Spanish-style Spa Village now has its own pools, a cafe and lots of cushy seating areas for group lounging. The service menu features several interactive experiences, including the Kuyam ritual, named for the Chumash Native American word meaning “a place to rest together.” In the session, guests settle into a private steam room outfitted with individual beds, lather on a series of herb-infused desert clays, then relax together enjoying the dry heat and inhalation therapy. (Think of it as an indigenous version of a communal Russian steam bath.) Take part in creative activities offered in the spa’s Artist’s Cottage & Apothecary, such as fragrance blending, where you create your own herbal scent and turn it into a massage oil used in your treatments. A teen spa menu caters to the over-13 set. Doubles start at $300. Kuyam ritual $75-$100; ojairesort.com.

Sandra Ramani is a New York-based free-lance writer.



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