For those willing to travel for exotic spa treatments, here are 10 from around the globe deserving of your attention. From gold facials to bull sperm hair conditioning, these might be truly invigorating, perversely satisfying, or just plain weird. You decide.
Cleopatra apparently slept in a gold mask every night to maintain youthful looking skin, inspiring the latest in Japan’s pursuit of glowing, wrinkle-free skin.
Paper-thin squares of 24-karat gold are applied on the face along with hydrating compounds. The result includes firmer, more supple skin, and not surprisingly, a noticeable dent in your wallet.
The Japanese have a penchant for the bizarre, and the ramen soup bath is no exception. Offered seasonally by the Yunessun Spa in Hakone, south of Tokyo, bathers lounge in a bowl-shaped tub filled with a steaming broth of pepper, garlic extract, and collagen, purported to boost metabolism and nourish the skin.
The kid-friendly spa also features a variety of themed baths, including green tea, red wine, and sake.
There was a time when you had to go to India or Sri Lanka for Ayurveda, an ancient method of healing that focuses on detoxification and restoration of the body’s natural balance.
These days, many spas offer Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic treatment that involves slowly dripping warm oil or buttermilk over the forehead in the area known as the “third eye.” Originally intended to treat conditions ranging from neurological disorders to skin ailments, the rhythmic drip is also used for its relaxing, meditative properties.
Ada Barak’s Carnivorous Plant Farm in Northern Israel doubles as a spa, boasting a waiting list for massages given by snakes (yes, those limbless elongated animals, but the non-venomous varieties). The writhing of such reptiles on the skin is said to be quite therapeutic.
Larger snakes are heavy enough to produce a deep kneading massage, while the smaller ones flutter over the skin, creating a calming, caressing sensation.
Touted as “Viagra for Hair,” Hari’s Bull Sperm Hair Treatment promises to transform over-processed hair into healthy, flowing tresses at its London salon.
The protein-rich treatment is a combination of organic Aberdeen Angus bull semen and Katera, a plant root from Iran. Once it is massaged into wet hair, this unusual concoction is left to work its magic.
For over a hundred years, travelers have been trekking to the foothills of the Italian Dolomites for a therapy that eases aches and pains. Pioneered by Hotel Heubad, the treatment involves being tightly wrapped in a sheet filled with damp fermenting hay and soaking in a water bed heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat opens the pores to receive the healing qualities of the Alpine grasses.
Spas have proliferated in China’s megacities, drawing upon traditional regimens such as cupping. In this procedure, small glass or bamboo cups are lit and applied on the skin, usually the back. When the air inside the cup cools, a vacuum is created, stimulating blood flow and rebalancing inner energy.
While painless, dark red circular welts– an effect stranger than the process itself– remain.
Spas in the Czech Republic offer an unconventional remedy for the weary: a soak in warmed lager. Yeast and hops contain health-inducing chemicals said to boost complexion and relieve muscle tension.
You probably shouldn’t sample the tepid, murky bathwater; at the Prave Pivni Lazni, or original beer spa, run by the Chodovar brewery in the town of Chodova Plana, you’re given cool pints to drink during your stint in “Beer Wellness Land.”
In the hills of Hershey, Pennsylvania, the spa at the Hotel Hershey offers a plethora of delicious-sounding treats. Based on the premise that chocolate’s vitamins and antioxidants fight aging and accelerate cellular rejuvenation, one such regimen, the Chocolate Fondue Wrap, involves being slathered with warmed Moor mud and essence of cocoa and then wrapped in a blanket.
Originally from Turkey, the garra rufa is more commonly known as “Doctor Fish” throughout Japan and parts of Southeast Asia. These toothless relatives of the carp feed on dead, flaky skin, attacking whichever body part is offered as a snack.
While these hard-working fish have been known to treat skin ailments such as psoriasis and eczema, they are more likely to be doing full body exfoliations or prepping the feet for a pedicure.