How to Upgrade Your Spa Day

Are you looking for a lavishly expensive spa treatment? Do you have money to burn? Luxury hotel spas are happy to help!  While most people who go to spas opt for a basic massage or facial, there is always a way to up the price tag — and seriously upgrade your experience. Here are a few of our favorite  strategies for feeling ultra pampered on your next spa day.

01 of 06

Find An Ultra-Luxurious Suite


One way to get a super-expensive spa treatment is to book a fully decked out couples suite in a luxury hotel or resort.  Think cozy fireplace, a whirlpool for two, private steam shower, matching pedicure thrones, a comfy place to lounge (Mandarin Oriental New York City has an antique Chinese bed!), a private outdoor patio or balcony, a stellar view of the ocean — the more lavish the room, the higher the price tag.

Acqualina Spa in Miami ups the luxury quotient with its Royal Spa Treatment Suite, a regal retreat for couples, families or friends. You have your own private lounge with gold-brushed walls, a crystal chandelier, bronze coffee tables, and a royal blue club chairs by Fendi Casa.  It's the perfect place to enjoy freshly brewed tea, light refreshments, lunch, or even a bottle of Cristal, if you're ready to go all out.

The oceanfront treatment room features a private steam room made from mother-of-pearl, a rainforest shower for two, and a private wraparound balcony with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. .

The least expensive experience here is two hours of customized treatment time with your highly trained ESPA therapist for $1000 for two  (including service fees). The three-hour experience ($1,350 for two) includes a foot ritual, body exfoliation, body wrap, massage and facial services as well as lunch, while stretching the same service to four-hours brings it up to $1,640 for two.

For $1,800, two people can enjoy a two-hour experience with a bottle of Roederer Cristal, gold-dusted strawberries on top of the welcoming foot ritual, full-body massage, 24-carat gold rejuvenation facial, and gold body shimmer.  

Not enough alone time?  Add on a therapist-free hour — to steam, relax, or sip — to any of these packages for just $100.  And add a bottle of Cristal to any package for $490.

02 of 06

Book Signature Treatments or Experiences

Matthew Wakem/ Getty Images

Most luxury hotel and resort spas offer longer spa experiences that are based on the culture, history, and often the native ingredients of their region. Think turquoise, sage and chiles in the southwest, vinotherapy in wine country, seaweed and sea salt on the coasts, or olive oil and honey in the Mediterranean.  Spiritual hotspots like Sedona specialize in metaphysical treatments for soul-seekers.

Typically, these treatments have been developed exclusively for that spa and stimulate all the sense — sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. And they're almost irresistible. After all, who wants to get a basic massage in Crete when you can have an "experience" that starts in a tub of hot seawater and chamomile, dittany and sage, followed by a body scrub with dried herbs, Cretan olive oil and warm honey, then a massage with Cretan olive oil, herbs, honey and raki?  

Signature spa treatments or experiences last longer, cost more and can be wonderful; if you've been to many spas it's especially fun to experience something new. Sometimes you get master therapists and have transforming experiences.

But there are pitfalls to signature spa treatments. It's easy to get caught up in the romance and not realize that you're getting a body scrub, spending time in a tub by yourself, and then get an "application" of lotion from an esthetician, not a true masseuse. 

03 of 06

Go For the Gold...and Diamonds

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

Since ancient times, gold has been revered for its beauty, scarcity, and ability to make the skin younger and more luminous.  Enter luxury spas, which have created facials and other treatments that use this precious substance to deliver an illuminating glow — all over.  

The ultimate gold treatment is an almost six-hour Day of Gold package at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, an ultra-decadent spa in the United Arab Emirates. It starts with a hammam using gold soap and a gold clay body mask, followed by a 90-minute massage — choose from 24-carat gold oil to rebalance; a diamond-infused oil for restoring vitality; or a caviar-infused oil for serenity.

After a sumptuous lunch, lie back for your Gold Radiance Facial, where 24-carat micronized gold sheets are massaged into the skin while a nano mister gently hydrates your skin.  The final touch? A Bastien Gonzalez pedicure. Total cost: around $1,000. 

South America is famous for its gold artifacts, and Casa San Agustin's Aurum Spa in Cartegna, Colombia delivers. The entire space is infused with soft golden colors; the 120-minute "Time is Gold Ritual" starts with a Colombian Coffee Scrub in the spa’s hammam, followed by a moisturizing body wrap and facial, capped off with the signature Pure Gold Aromatic Massage.  It costs $550,000 Colombian Pesos, which sounds like a fortune, but its less than $200 in U.S. dollars.

Here in the U.S., Nidah Spa at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, offers the Spun Gold Massage. It starts with a gentle dry brushing of the skin; warm stones are placed on your back to soothing sore muscles, before chamomile oil infused with flecks of gold is massaged into your skin and crystals cleanse your chakras. The 80-minute experience costs $180. 

At Ritz-Carlton Spa in New York City, the Ultimate Pure Radiance Gold Radiance Facial is a $350, 90-minute indulgence — and La Prairie’s gold standard for anti-aging. After your skin is exfoliated, steamed, and massaged, the esthetician bathes your skin in La Prairie's Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold serum (take some home for a mere $615 per ounce). The gold dissolves on your skin's surface to instantly reflect light, and the micro-particles penetrate to boost collagen and elastin, plumping the skin. 

And if that's not rich enough for you, step up to the Ultimate Platinum Rare Facial, where two therapists work on you at the same time. The 90-minute treatment costs $595.

04 of 06

Get More Therapists in the Room

If one massage therapist is good, two is better — and twice the price. With a four-handed massage, two therapists work in unison, paralleling each other's moves on both sides of the body. There is so much sensation that your brain can't quite make sense of it, and relaxes completely.

You can find this treatment at quite a few luxury spas, including Spa Grande at Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, where 80 minutes of four-handed massage is $400.  Alvadora Spa at The Royal Palms in Phoenix has an 80-minute four-handed service for $315. And the Spa at Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong offers a 110-minute four-handed treatment called Oriental Harmony for around $550 (including service charge. (It's twice the price on weekends at The Mandarin Oriental NYC.) 

This level of relaxation can cost even more in at The Spa at Encore in Las Vegas, where two therapists "compose a synchronized massage combining exotic, aromatic oils, warm stones and indulgent focus on the head and feet. The ultimate tandem body exfoliation and hydration concludes your journey," according to the spa's description of the 105-minute treatment ($800).

Many day spas — including the massage club Massage Envy—- have this treatment for a more affordable price, so if you're intrigued, give it a try. 

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Treat Yourself To A Full Medical Workup

Canyon Ranch Tucson
Canyon Ranch Tucson

So maybe it's not a sexy "treatment", but it's your health — the ultimate luxury. Canyon Ranch Tucson's Executive Health Program is a comprehensive program that includes time with a doctor and other health specialists — nurse educators, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and licensed therapists — to develop a health plan that fits your lifestyle and wellness goals. 

The treatment incorporates extensive diagnostic testing, including lab work, DEXA body composition, hearing and pulmonary function testing, non-invasive cardiovascular profile assessment, resting and exercise EKGs, cardiometabolic stress test, cognitive assessment, and time with your doctor before and after the tests.

You find out risk-factors for various conditions, and learn preventive strategies.  At the end, you go home with all your test results and comprehensive recommendations.  It's $5,575 just for the package; you'll still need to foot the bill for the four-night stay at Canyon Ranch. That means while you're getting testing you are enjoying all of the usual pleasures of Canyon Ranch — fitness classes, staff lectures, hiking, exercise, and fantastic food.  

06 of 06

Find a City Known For Excess

Spa at Encore

Las Vegas spas have no equal for sheer size and extravagance. The hotels are huge and flashy, and so are the spas. Sahra Spa & Hammam at The Cosmopolitan, The Spa at ARIA and Qua at Ceasars Palace all have exotic European technologies like laconiums, hammams, ice fountains and water circuits that make for a visually rich and relaxing experience. But it's not all about flash — Vegas attracts great massage therapists and master estheticians

The Spa at Encore at Wynn is the most grand of Las Vegas hotelier Steve Wynn's many properties, and there are so many ways to drop a hefty pile of cash here. The Nalu Body Ritual is a Polynesian fusion massage, body exfoliation and coconut oil scalp treatment will allow you to let go and deeply relax with the scents and sensations of the islands — all at $500 for 130 minutes. 

The Bodhi Massage opens and balance the body’s seven chakras through a powerful blend of massage, energy work, aroma and color light therapy, followed by a guided visualization that truly unifies body and soul — until you hit the gaming floor again. ($375 for 105 minutes). 

The Good Luck Ritual  is based on the five Chinese elements and is designed to promote happiness, luck and prosperity with a custom Massage, invigorating peppermint foot treatment, ultra-moisturizing hand therapy and relaxing botanical scalp treatment.  $385 for 100 minutes. 

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