Most Outrageous Spa and Wellness Experiences
Volcano sand baths, horse sunset yoga, beach walking meditation, and the other wild wellness experiences you should know about
Move over, goat yoga and sake soaks. We've got the new trendiest spa packages. Whether it's a girls' night in Sonoma County for enzyme bathing or a destination trip to Japan to experience the birthplace of forest bathing, these seven spa experiences will renew your mind, body, and spirit—in untraditional ways.
Volcanic sand bathing in New Jersey
Start your crazy spa escapade in a decidedly tame location—Edgewater, New Jersey. The city's SoJo Spa Club offers a volcanic sand bath that uses mineral-rich, volcano-warmed sand to detoxify your skin. Volcanic sand bathing started in Ibusuki, Japan, where underground springs warmed by nearby volcanoes result in heated, naturally alkaline sand. This mineral-rich sand boasts anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for skin, and being covered in it raises body temperature, resulting in sauna-like detoxification.
SoJo seeks to make the experience as similar to the one you'd have in Ibusuki as possible. When you arrive, you put on a traditional Japanese yukata (cotton robe) and lie down in a large, multi-person pit of sand. (The sand is shipped in from Ibusuki.) An attendant covers your body in the sand and places a parasol by your head to protect your face from the sun. The bathing occurs indoors but there are a lot of windows, so the parasol is actually really helpful. For 10 to 15 minutes, you close your eyes and enjoy the warmth and quiet of the beach-like atmosphere. Afterward, you can enjoy a soak in one of the spa's therapeutic baths—the Edgewater version of an Ibusuki hot spring soak.
$20 for 10–15 minutes, in addition to daily admission that provides unlimited access to all baths, pools, and saunas for the day
Forest bathing in India
Looking to reconnect with yourself and nature? You need a session of Shinrin-yoku—literally, "taking in the forest atmosphere." In a one-hour session, you sit in the forest, breathe, and let the sights and sounds of the forest fill you. In other words, you bathe in it.
Could you do this in any park or forest in your town? Sure you could (and should—lots of studies show the mental and emotional benefits of spending time in nature and silence). But if you want to experience this form of therapy in its birthplace, head to Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort and Spa in New Chandigar, India. Set within the 8,000-acre Siswan Forest, it's an ideal place to reset your mind in the great outdoors. Step away from the world and into the woods for an hour of forest bathing, and you might just find yourself less stressed and more energized.
$15 for a one-hour session
Cedar enzyme bathing in California
There's more to California wine country than grapes. At Osmosis Day Spa in Sonoma County, there's also ground cedar and rice bran. You don't eat it; you bathe in it. Ground cedar wood and rice bran are mixed with living enzymes to create the soft, cleansing Cedar Enzyme Bath that's traditional in Japanese healing.
You start the one-and-a-half-hour experience with herb and enzyme tea in the Japanese tea garden. Drink up, because the enzymes you consume work with the enzymes in the bath mixture to do all sorts of good for your body (more on that in a second). Once you climb into the bath and are covered with the cedar enzyme mixture, you'll instantly feel warm—the mixture is fermented, so it retains heat. As you "soak," the enzymes do their work improving your circulation and metabolism. Over the course of the bath, you'll start to feel pretty hot. If you're generally not into sweating, don't worry. The bath attendant will periodically place cool cloths on your forehead and offer you water to keep you comfortable. Once the bath is complete, you'll rinse off and enjoy a session of sound therapy, where you'll wrap yourself in a blanket, lie down, and listen to a soothing collection of music meant to lower brain wave activity.
$109 for one person; $99 each for two or more people
Spiritual journey in Santa Fe
Are you ready to restore balance in your life—to reconnect with your mind, body, and spirit? If so, take a trip to the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe for a nearly two-hour Spiritual Journey spa session rooted in the ancient shamanic healing traditions of indigenous cultures. Shamanism is the idea that shamans are able to reach altered states of consciousness and, by connecting with the otherworld, help heal the sick, communicate with spirits, and more.
In the 110-minute Spiritual Journey full-body treatment, you will go on a "journey of peace and enlightenment to purify, restore balance, and renew vitality," according to the website. To start, your body is brushed with sage, then covered in an adobe clay mask and wrap. While in the wrap, your spa leader will guide you on your spiritual journey, talking you through it with guided imagery and relaxed breathing tips. Afterward, you spend some time in the sauna "to purify your body," then have a Chakra balancing massage, "which restores the mind, body, and spirit." By the end, you should be uber-peaceful.
$310 for 110 minutes
Zen horse sunset yoga in Hawaii
Forget goats. Horse yoga is the new hot thing. At the Four Seasons Resort Spa in Lanai, you can enjoy a sunset yoga session at the Lanai Ranch, right in the horses' home environment. Don't worry; horses won't stand on your back while you're in child's pose. The idea is to promote peaceful co-existence and connection with the noble, majestic beings. You'll spend an hour at the ranch doing yoga in the shared outdoor space—which, as a reminder, is on a Hawaiian island, so it's already an idyllic environment. The horses are just a plus. By the end, you'll walk away feeling more present and connected to nature. Transport to the stables is included in the package.
Note: If horses and yoga aren't your thing, the resort also offers zen golf, zen tennis, and an overall zen wellness package (perfect for those needing a complete zen overhaul).
$200 (two-guest minimum)
Beach walking meditation and sand mandala building in Florida
If sand, surf, and sunset are your equation for peace, don't deny your soul the ocean inspiration it needs. Go to the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island and treat yourself to the Meditative Beach Experience. Poised on a bluff of dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the resort's seaside location lends itself to a relaxing retreat. You'll take full advantage of the tranquil surroundings with the 90-minute beach experience session, which includes walking meditation and the creation of sand mandalas.
Guests walk silently along the beach and collect small "found objects." When the walking portion is done, they use their objects to create sand mandalas. Mandalas are geometric patterns traditional in Buddhist meditation. Every object has a meaning and reminds the meditator of a guiding principle. The entire session is a chance to appreciate nature and quiet while focusing on being present.
Meditative Beach Experience sessions occur once every 4 to 6 weeks on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. Contact the Ritz-Carlton for more information.
CBD massage in Colorado
CBD is all the rage right now for its many purported health benefits, most notably its calming properties. The Spa at St. Julien in Boulder is combining the calming oil with its classic massages for maximal chill vibes. The CBD works in unison with the massage to quiet the mind and relax the body. Add in some lavender and sage essential oils to ease your muscles and mind, and you've got 50 minutes of bliss, which is why they call it the Colorado Bliss CBD Classic Massage. And if you want to really indulge, opt for the Ultimate CBD package, which is a scrub, wrap, and massage combination. The treatment includes a full-body exfoliation with lavender vetiver sugar scrub and a CBD-infused body butter wrap, a hot oil scalp massage, a full-body massage with CBD-infused oil, and complimentary CBD-infused tea.
$160 for a 50-minute CBD Classic Massage; $195 for an 80-minute CBD Classic Massage; $259 for the 105-minute Ultimate CBD package
Farm to fashion in Ohio
This is not so much a spa experience as it is an intimate animal adventure aimed at helping you live more thoughtfully and sustainably. At Farm to Fashion, designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart takes guests on a tour to local farms to meet the sheep whose wool is used in her clothing. Malvar-Stewart, who owns the boutique and workshop Hangar 391, knows all of the sheep by name (fingers crossed you meet Christian Dior, Gandalf, or Coco Chanel—all sheep), and she believes it's important that people who wear animal products have an understanding of how they were made.
After hanging with the animals, guests return to Malvar-Stewart's shop to create their own scarves from the sheep's wool. Malvar-Stewart expertly finishes the personalized scarves and mails them to attendees shortly after. In addition to the animal connections you'll form and the general good vibes you get from learning about how to be a better steward of the land, you'll also get free skin care: The raw wool you work with to create the scarf is laden with lanolin, sometimes called wool grease, which is used in hundreds of lotions and creams.
Price starts from $145 per person for a half-day tour. Some tours can be modified to include a night at Hotel Leveque.