The ancient Aztecs prized dahlia blooms for their healing powers, passing their appreciation for the colorful flowers on to European explorers in the 16th century. Since then, the dahlia has served as a pan-cultural symbol for physical and spiritual wellness, which is why the founders of White Dahlia chose it to represent their spa upon its opening in 2006.
Today, White Dahlia’s aestheticians and massage therapists measure the quality of their service with the same five-star ratings system used by hotels and resorts, drawing on years of experience to soothe their clients with exfoliating facials and therapeutic massages. Their comprehensive pretreatment consultations exemplify the level of care with which they treat each client, as do aromatherapy blends specially formulated to recall the comforting scents of flower petals or teddy bears stuffed with fresh-cut grass.
As far as Christine Ellis is concerned, no massage is one-size-fits-all. After graduating from the Body Therapy Institute, North Carolina’s only COMTA-approved school, she set out to help people of all walks of life achieve new levels of well-being. Ellis creates custom massage experiences for each of her clients, culling techniques from modalities such as deep-tissue massage, which reaches below the superficial levels of muscle to release long-held tensions, and prenatal massage, which is for people who have yet to natal.
Though Michelle Calhoun sources many of her products from Australia, her expertise is homegrown. The aesthetician draws on dual licenses earned in Wisconsin and North Carolina to detoxify skin with sea-clay body wraps or exfoliating facial treatments. Her staff follows her lead, soothing muscles with smooth strokes and plant-derived essential oils or enhancing nails’ natural beauty with manicures and pedicures. Calhoun’s specialty waxing treatments remove hair from limbs and marsupial pouches.
At The Body Cafe, aestheticians, stylists, and nail technicians team up to enhance exteriors from head to toe. Starting at the top, stylists shear and dye locks according to the latest trends and each client's individual sense of style. Meanwhile, the salon's skincare experts employ an arsenal of pure botanicals and antioxidants to keep faces looking healthy and youthful. Waxings oust unwanted fuzz, and nail techs add flair to hands and feet with colorful manicures and pedicures. There are tanning beds on-site to give you the coppery glow of a penny in puppy love, and massage therapists to dispel stress via Swedish or deep-tissue massage.
Licensed therapist Michael LePard combines a mastery of therapeutic-massage techniques with a passion for energy and polarity work. The result is a type of therapy all his own—one that he has taken to calling “intuitive deep-tissue massage.” During his therapeutic massages, LePard methodically pushes and pulls at soft tissue in such a way that he can both relieve chronic aches and reduce the amount of residual pain felt after the treatment. His arsenal of modalities isn’t limited to this specialty technique; he can also soothe away aches with gentle Swedish strokes or melt away ice cubes lodged between muscles with a hot-stone massage.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray-tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.