When Elle · A Clinical Day Spa first opened in 1997, its therapists specialized exclusively in massage. But soon, they saw that what the average guest needed most was not a standalone massage appointment, but an immersive, multifaceted experience that could undo the stress that bombards them on a daily basis. Owners Leigh Shaw and Polly Tabares, who have experience in the spa industry and the fields of dermatology and plastic surgery, rethought their approach and expanded their services into both traditional spa therapies and med-spa treatments.
Today, Leigh and Polly oversee everything from body wraps and facials to Botox injections and prescription skincare. They also maintain a stash of products for at-home care, stocking lines such as Dermalogica and bareMinerals by Bare Escentuals. For frequent guests, they coordinate VIP memberships that offer perks such as service discounts and massages that harness the rejuvenating power of phoenix tears.
Dedicated massage practitioners tailor each session to each client’s needs, ranging from stress reduction to advanced medical therapies. Staffers employ traditional Swedish or deep-tissue modalities along with raindrop therapy, which uses several different essential oils to revitalize the senses. They design therapeutic massages for the specific needs of pregnant women, cancer patients, or athletes, and perform targeted medical massages as prescribed by a doctor. A tropical-themed treatment room houses an island mural for couples to gaze at during simultaneous treatments, and another room features a picture of a tranquil waterfall gently singing “No Scrubs.”
Founded by two students of the Brenneke School of Massage, Essential Life Therapy pampers its clients with the devoted attention of a cupboard genie. A team of trained practitioners relax tight muscles and clear corpuses of long-standing political tension using a variety of different massage services (all $70; $65 for reiki). Clients can relax under the classic Swedish, push out persistent pains and imbedded javelins with a deep-tissue massage, or try something new with a reflexology or Reiki—a Japanese form that employs gentle touches to heal the body physically, emotionally, and spiritually. All massages begin with a foot-calming bath that doesn’t count as a single minute in your full hour of manual bliss.
The bubblegum-pink exterior of Picasso Salon & Day Spa houses a team of stylists, aestheticians, and licensed massage therapists overseen by Sonia Kim Scheer, a beauty-industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience. Stylists and colorists at different levels of experience—including director, master, senior, and archduke—consult with clients before reshaping their hairdo. Aestheticians also soften skin with Dermalogica products during four types of facials and three types of chemical peels. A sea-salt scrub or European rose mud wrap can help relax bodies as a technician washes off the nourishing ingredients in the spa's Vichy shower.
Serenity Spa and Natural Health Clinic's eco-friendly sanctuary wraps well-worn bodies in relaxing energy with an array of holistic healing treatments. The 60- to 90-minute acupuncture treatment strives to release tension and stress wedged, like squatting trolls, along the body's factory lines of energy. Designed to create a spacious tunnel for the chi (energy) to flow, fine needles are delicately inserted into critical pressure points along the physique, potentially helping to relieve allergies or treat autoimmune diseases and pulmonary disorders. Further bolstering relaxation, the 15- to 20-minute aromatherapy foot and head massage works to invigorate the senses with scented oils, soothing strokes, and an absence of heavy-metal music.
Looking around Pacific Avenue Salon & Spa, a rustic Italian villa might come to mind. That’s because each piece of decor situated within the 10,000-square-foot day spa exudes that vibe, from the intricate ironwork on the stairs to the cobblestones lining its walkways. In a bright, airy salon space, guests can relax on leather salon chairs facing mirrors that reflect their new haircuts and more vibrant hair colors. Other visitors can retire to private massage rooms in the hopes that therapeutic, Swedish, or deep-tissue techniques will work out their muscle aches and kinks. Elsewhere, the spa’s licensed professionals pamper clients with body wraps that utilize ingredients such as greek yogurt, pumpkin, or coffee and jojoba. The expansive retreat also features a pool, gym, and sauna and hot tub that give clients a place to unwind and decide which state of water they like best: liquid or gas.