If you're wondering what the next "ology" to hit health will be, then look west. Each year an innovative way of chasing better looks or staving off ageing presents itself, and it often originates from the USA. Whether you're after an abstinence-enforcing boot camp in the desert or a chic city salon, it's always good to know what's wowing the land where spa time is paramount.
"Local and seasonal" is a popular phrase across the hospitality industry, and almost-good-enough-to-eat treatments are best fortified with fresh herbs plucked metres from the massage table. You can head to Spa Grand Traverse (001 231 534 6000; grandtraverseresort.com) on Lake Michigan this winter and they'll get in the holiday mood with seasonal candy cane-inspired treatments: both the "Breathe" facial and massage treatments use peppermint essential oils. Gourmet treatments are on the menu as "culi-spa" weekends at San Francisco's Cavallo Point (001 415 339 4700; cavallopoint.com) highlight. And in Napa Valley, epicureans can get drunk on indulgence with Auberge du Soleil's vinotherapy, paired with sommelier-selected local wines (001 707 963 1211; aubergedusoleil.com).
Wellness centres are still cruising to a greener place with practices and potions, as the all- natural Amala skincare range newly exclusive to Rancho Valencia (001 858 756 1123; rancho valencia.com) in San Diego demonstrates.
Holistic hideaways are also adding intensive medical treatments to their offerings. Spa-goers after a health "ta-da" effect often favour lab-coated therapists with lots of letters after their names. But no one wants to holiday in a hospital, so why not sign up to see a physician or get some diagnostic tests in the comfort of Canyon Ranch's outposts in Arizona, Florida, or Massachusetts? And since prettifying pedicures are getting the boot in favour of rad podiatrist practices, Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas, Nevada, takes drastic steps towards healthy hooves with a package that even includes computerised gait analysis and zero-gravity seating ( canyonranch.com).
These days spas blow cold as well as hot; steam rooms are only half the story as sensualists beg for ice caves. ESPA may have been offering post-sauna ice rub-downs for years, but Caesars Palace (001 866 782 0655; caesarspalace.com), also in Las Vegas, has taken it to the next level with a snowflake-producing Arctic Ice Room.
Mini-sybarites, too, are no longer neglected. As the spa business booms, a new breed of family-friendly stays is luring in the little ones. As well as providing baby massages and mum-to-be time, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, tempts toddlers with sparkling nails and "pixie dust" hair (001 714 520 7001; resorts.disney.go.com). Alternatively, at Sundae Spa (001 877 737 3593; sundaespa.com) in Connecticut, the glut of treats for indulged darlings includes "ice-cream pedicures", an idea which may make some parents a little nervous…
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