There’s nothing we don’t love about a massage or pampering facial. But some spa treatments go above, beyond, and sometimes even a little too far. Head to China and you might just find a bird-dropping facial or nibbling-fish foot soak on your spa’s menu. In Israel, you can book a snake massage, in which—you guessed it—slithering snakes inch their way across your body. And depending where you are in the world, you can even soak in a tub full of wine, beer, or ooey-gooey melted chocolate.
But strange as they may sound, a few of the world’s most unusual spa treatments might surprise you with their healthful benefits and soothing results. Far from gimmicks, these therapies are the ones to book for a next-level wellness experience.
Miraval is a mecca for creative and cutting-edge spa experiences. The Arizona-based wellness retreat—home to a handful of Exclusive Resorts residences—offers everything from crystal and stone massages to ancient healing therapies from Taoist China and India. This desert escape’s latest invention is Vasudhara, a first-of-its-kind treatment that combines the benefits of sensory deprivation and traditional Thai massage. Drawing from the Buddhist belief in the power of water, Vasudhara (Sanskrit for “stream of gems”) takes place in a dark and shallow indoor pool, which, heated precisely to 98.6-degrees Fahrenheit, mimics a sense of flying. Underwater speakers provide a relaxing soundtrack, and an eye mask ensures the total absence of visual stimulus as your therapist slowly leads you adrift, carefully stretching your body and lengthening your limbs. Loosened by the warm water, muscles will be fully relaxed while your body may be more agile than ever.
Bali has no shortage of spa treatments with local flair, but none takes you quite as deep into the culture and traditions of this enchanting isle as a massage from Ibu Ketut Mursi at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Mursi—a blind healer from a long lineage of gifted therapists—uses intuition and touch to assess the wellness needs of each of her guests. Working with her sighted assistant therapist, she employs a combination of practices, from reflexology to Balinese massage, to improve her clients’ physical and emotional health. The four-handed massage, performed with a secret herbal oil blend that has been in Mursi’s family for generations, is a true exploration of intuitive healing that will leave you revitalized in both body and mind.
Natura Bisse’s Pure Air Bubble is like the hottest restaurant in town—everyone wants to get in. But the giant orb, which the Barcelona-based skincare brand claims is filled with some of the freshest air on earth, is an elusive wellness experience, never staying more than a few days in a single destination before moving on to its next locale. This year, the bubble will take its 99.95-percent pure-air atmosphere across the U.S., with stops at Neiman Marcus and other upscale department stores in cities from Boca Raton to Las Vegas. Snag a coveted appointment in the big ball and you’ll be one of the lucky few to experience Natura Bisse’s new Mindful of Touch ritual. The cutting-edge therapy begins with an immersive virtual-reality video to help achieve an elevated state of mindfulness, and includes a personalized facial using Natura Bisse’s line of products. The result is a total mind-body experience—and, of course, beautiful skin.
Wellness-seekers have been visiting Iceland’s Blue Lagoon geothermal springs for decades, lining up for the opportunity to soak in the healing waters of the mineral-rich pools. But this famous experience has just gotten a lot more exclusive thanks to the opening of the Retreat at Blue Lagoon, a new luxury resort that offers guests the opportunity to bathe in a private section of the famed springs. Wander the cavernous spa’s interconnected chambers—formed more than 800 years ago by the flowing lava of an erupting volcano—before settling down onto a floating massage table for an in-water body treatment. Using the lagoon’s natural curative elements of mineral salt, silica, and algae, the treatment will leave you revitalized, nourished, and utterly radiant.