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Donning a fuzzy robe, reading a magazine in the quiet room and enjoying Champagne drinks or hot herbal tea is a big part of why people opt for massages, facials and other treatments at the spa over a less expensive version at a chain or medical establishment. This sheer luxury is worth a few extra dollars and loads of extra time spent taking advantage of amenities such as a dry sauna, steam room, swimming pool and hot tub or spa café. When it comes to not only lavish facilities, but also services bordering on hedonistic, New Orleans has no shortage of options.
“What’s important to us is that they let us take over from the moment they walk in the door,” says Sharla Martin, spa director at the Spa at the Windsor Hotel, which was rated No. 1 on the USA Today 10 Best list. “Let us care for you. I don’t want you to think about whatever is going on professionally or at home. Whether it’s 30 minutes or three hours, we want to do whatever it takes for you to have that time.”
It is that attitude – echoed at other tony spas in the city, such as the Ritz-Carlton Spa, the Woodhouse Day Spa and the Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Roosevelt, as well as their less majestic, but equally as indulgent counterparts including Balance Spa & Fitness at the Loews Hotel, Belladonna and Earthsavers – that make going to the spa for an hour seem more like a mini-vacation. Time stands still, your every need is met and the only thing you have to consider is whether to add a scalp massage enhancement to your body treatment, to take a dip in the pool or both.
For the well-heeled and well coiffed, spa treatments are no longer considered a special occasion activity, but rather a necessity in the health, beauty and wellness regime. According to the most recent research from the International Spa Association, more people are hitting the spa for primping and pampering. The ISA reported a record rise in spa visits from 160 million in 2012 to 164 million in 2013.
For those that follow a seasonal schedule of the more intensive face and body treatments, now is the time to get your epidermis buffed, polished and shined to a gleaming, soft glow and slough off winter dullness. Ready your skin in style for the punishing hot months to come with our guide to the city’s most luxurious spa treatments. Then rinse and repeat as needed. To up the luxe-factor on the services in this round up, be sure to arrive early, shimmy into a soft, plush spa robe and enjoy whatever complimentary beverages are on tap, then stick around post-treatment for more rest and relaxation.
Seaweed is the “it” product in the beauty world at the moment, and the city’s spas are on the cutting edge of the ocean’s beauty bounty. The Woodhouse and the Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Roosevelt Hotel both incorporate seaweed into various treatments, but nowhere is it more luxurious than with body treatments. How better to get ready for the beach than by using products from the sea?
Recline in a soft chair with your feet kicked up on an ottoman, mimosa in hand in the new relaxation lounge at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. This spa is an urban oasis in the Central Business District. Modern design, hydrotherapy, VIP treatment rooms and a full-service salon signify this space. The Detoxifying Seaweed Polish and Wrap, $295 for 110 minutes, is nourishing and relaxing. A seaweed scrub is expertly applied to draw out toxins and feels like a massage. Next, the therapist applies the skin-softening algae wrap. After a quick shower, you’re back on the table enjoying a gentle lymphatic drainage massage.
The new Lazy Days Renewal Ritual, 80 minutes for $145 at the Woodhouse, combines VOYA seaweed with Dead Sea salt for an energizing scrub. A deep, claw foot bathtub filled with warm water and seaweed awaits for a 20 minute, skin-nourishing soak. Exotic seaweed extracts are then applied during a soothing massage.
Many of the city’s spas offer local’s discounts and specials, as well as free valet parking. Even an inexpensive express manicure can provide access to the pool, sauna and other facilities for the day, so plan to stick around and enjoy. Gym memberships also are standard at many of the area’s facilities, which include use of the other amenities.
If you have a weekend to spare, make the two hour 40 minute trip to the Grand Hotel Point Clear Resort and Spa in Point Clear, Alabama. The lush grounds of the circa-1847 hotel are chock-full of boardwalks, wooden piers and stunning views of the private marina and Mobile Bay. Clubby Bucky’s Birdcage Lounge is the perfect spot for a cocktail or to enjoy conversation around the fire pit in the evening. A more casual atmosphere abounds at the Pelican’s Nest and Blue Marlin Bar, overlooking the sparkling poll and an impressive waterfall. Check out a beach cruiser-style bike for a relaxing ride into nearby Fairhope, or around the hotel grounds and bay front. The majestic European-style spa offers top-notch services and oozes exotic, Old World flair. The women’s quiet room has a 22-person hot tub, dark wood chairs and footstools and cushy lounge chairs. Mosaic tile surrounds the hut tub, evoking a modern Turkish bath. Massage treatments are relaxing, healing and come with shortbread cookies in the lounge. Yes, you can have your massage and eat cookies too.
When it comes to facials, sometimes you need more than the basic, maintenance variety. For fans of microdermabrasion, the 110-minute, Royal Facial-Microdermabrasion + L.E.D. + O2, for $265 at the Spa at the Windsor Court, is a balanced mix of clinical-meets-indulgent. After sipping a glass of Champagne in the snug relaxation area, your technician will escort you to the treatment room. The décor is decidedly Old World, with light, fresh colors and contemporary finishes. In addition to the microdermabrasion exfoliation, skin is deep cleaned, oxygenated and slathered in various anti-aging, antioxidant and vitamin-packed products. A hydrating mask is also applied with an L.E.D. device, which is said to boost collagen production, producing plump skin. It also can treat acne. During the light therapy treatment, the technician delivers a body-melting neck, shoulder and arm massage.
Post-treatment, take advantage of the eucalyptus-infused steam room or the cedar dry sauna.
Sometimes it boils down to preference, and not everyone favors microdermabrasion. The 80-minute Age-Defying Facial, $140, at Balance Spa & Fitness at the Loews Hotel is a worthy alternative. Glycolic acid and enzymes take the place of microdermabrasion for exfoliation. Peptides, a brightening eye treatment that exfoliates, firms and massages around the delicate eye area, as well as micro current for toning and contouring and L.E.D. light therapy, combine for a satisfying, gentle and relaxing treatment. Spa guests have 24-hour access to the large fitness center, pool, whirlpool and sauna. A modest relaxation area allows for pre- and post- treatment respite, and there’s a spread of delicious hot teas available for guests.
Honorable mentions: The Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Roosevelt Hotel is one of a handful of spas in New Orleans to offer the extravagant and results-oriented Hydrafacial, $139 to $329, a gentle, machine-assisted deep cleaning treatment.
Getting a manicure is often one of those line item tasks on the Saturday afternoon to-do list. It is worth the price of admission, however, to occasionally spring for the luxury spa version. Woodhouse Day Spa in Mid-City is a Victoria, Texas-based franchise locally owned by Stuart Rome (there are two other locations in Louisiana, in Slidell and Baton Rouge) and voted the American Spa Magazine Professional’s Choice award for “Favorite Day Spa” for 2014. The homey, wood pier and beam interior is reminiscent of a cozy lakeside lodge, with plush Country French-meets-Contemporary décor and the best magazine selection this side of the Mississippi. In April, Woodhouse unveiled its new menu of services, which incorporates VOYA-certified organic, sustainable and hand harvested seaweed products from Ireland. For its Woodhouse Signature Hand Retreat, $65, for 50 minutes you’re placed in a cushy pedi-chair, while your feet are submerged in a warm, soothing bath. The technician exfoliates your hands and arms with a seaweed scrub, and then wraps them in warm, nourishing seaweed leaves. Before primping your nails and cuticles, a luxurious hand cream is applied to your skin. (Pro-tip: If you plan to have your nails polished rather than buffed, don’t wear jeans. Opt for pants easy to get back into, a skirt or a dress to keep your manicure in order). You will be sent home with your seaweed, which can be plopped into the bathtub with you for two additional uses to soften and nurture your skin.
Honorable mention: The Woodhouse Timeless Anti-Aging Facial is a favorite of one of the staff editors, who says her skin felt soft and had a refreshing glow.
Some might argue that summer in New Orleans is most punishing on your soul, but your soles take a beating too. With sandals, mandals and other open-toed-shoes being the de rigeur footwear of the season, and many carefree and barefoot days spent boating on the lake, frolicking on the coast or lounging by the pool, dry, cracked skin is inevitable, unless you take precautions. The Resurfacing Pedicure, $80, at Earthsavers, revives your winter-worn feet and preps those tootsies for their strappy-shoed debut. This reparative, one hour service includes retexturing and age-spot treatments, as well as a resurfacing peel and mask, and an expert foot and lower leg massage. The pedi-chairs are not massage-style, but you won’t miss it with the pampering unleashed on your feet. Locally grown, eco-conscious Earthsavers is the place for spa-goers who prefer a clean, modern atmosphere with no muss or fuss. Lemon and orange waters are always on tap, and the dimly lit lounges are infused with peaceful, nature sounds-filled tunes and divine room scents. Inspiring messages and quotations adorn the walls, encouraging patrons to “Feel good,” and reminding them of the importance of, “Living in the moment.”
Honorable mentions: The facials and massages at Earthsavers are also a treat and include unexpected complimentary bells and whistles, such as hot towels and aromatherapy.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa is a Forbes Travel Guide Four Star-rated property. The award-winning, 25,000-square-foot spa facility has 22 treatment rooms and posh, plush relaxation lounges. Dedicated spa attendants, who are prone to leaving a sachet of the spa’s signature lavender mint bath salts in your locker, are assigned to each guest and tend to every need or whim. The grand, indoor fountain steps away from the doorway to the spa alludes to the luxurious amenities and treatments beyond its doors. Daybeds topped with fluffy pillows and silken throws, soft, flickering L.E.D. candles and a full spa food menu awaits in the lounge, where you can relax, sip a beverage, read magazines or even take a nap. To borderline ruin yourself for any other massage, book the Royal 4-Hands Massage, $275 – the pièce de résistance of massages. Two technicians execute synchronized movements from head to toe. Add scalp, foot and spinal enhancements (the former performed by each tech and the latter in synchronization), $25 each, to take the massage to the next level (which also adds 30 minutes). The scalp massage includes a opulent Moroccan oil treatment for your hair. For an otherworldly experience, schedule a pre-massage aromatherapy bath. This treatment will have you feeling like modern-day royalty being pampered and tended to by her ladies in waiting.
Spa Aria at the Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal St., 523-9990
Balance Spa & Fitness at the Loews Hotel
300 Poydras St., 595-5333
2900 Magazine St., 891-4393
Buff Beauty Bar
720 Carondelet St., 522-2833
Earthsavers & WELL
Uptown, 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555
Metairie, 3301 Veterans Blvd., 835-0225
Mandeville, 3414 U.S. Highway 190, (985) 674-1133
Franco’s O Spa
Mandeville, 100 Bon Temps Roule, (985) 792-0270
8110 Hapson St., 265-8018
921 Canal St., 524-1331
Spa at the Roosevelt Hotel
130 Roosevelt Way, (800) 925-3673,
Stone Creek Spa
Covington, 1201 Ochsner Blvd., (985) 801-7100
Spa at the Windsor Court
300 Gravier St., 596-4736
4030 Canal St., 482 6652,