Give Her the Works
Our intrepid reporter reviews special treatments at six Orlando-area spas. Tough job, but she had to do it.
Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto
One of the delightful benefits of living in a vacation destination is the abundance of tourist-targeting businesses that we locals can enjoy, too. You know, like the fine dining establishments on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row. They didn’t open their doors mainly for residents—it’s the visitors that keep them in business.
The same goes for luxury spas. Tourists staying in upscale resorts demand them, but we get to patronize them without renting a room. Here’s a look at the top resort and day spas I visited. I asked each of these six to let me experience its most notable or signature treatment.
This was one assignment that I didn’t once complain about. Now, about that story my editor wants on eczema . . .
Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa
1900 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista
The spa at Buena Vista Palace lives up to the resort’s regal name: Expect the royal treatment here, no matter which treatment you choose. That’s especially true of the spa’s popular Royal Velvet Sugar Scrub & Massage ($175): I felt like Queen for a Day (or at least for 80 minutes) during this heavenly scented experience. It begins with an invigorating and exfoliating scrub of brown sugar blended with aromatic scented oils (I chose vanilla-orange) followed by a moisturizing massage using African shea butter (mine was infused with pomegranate and cranberry scents).
The best part of the treatment is that there’s no need to leave the table between the scrub and massage to rinse—the therapist removes the scrub with warm, damp towels. Truly decadent.
Euro Day Spa
800 Formosa Ave., Winter Park
Here’s a day spa that exceeds expectations. Euro Day Spa, inconspicuously located on a lightly traveled road between two Parks—
College and Winter—features a courteous, well-trained staff and all manner of yummy treatments.
I was willingly subjected to a Scent of the Season Body Treatment ($110), which that month was a freshly prepared watermelon-
cucumber salt scrub plus a 30-minute
massage. The scrub filled the air with a fresh, invigorating scent as it exfoliated and smoothed my skin, and the massage was a relaxing end to the treatment.
Hilton Orlando Spa
6001 Destination Parkway, Orlando
Like the hotel, the Hilton Orlando Spa opened its doors in September. And like the hotel, it’s a beauty. The décor is sleek and contemporary with a hint of Asian influence, and the treatments are positively hedonistic.
I indulged in a ReFresh Signature Massage ($200), 80 minutes of relaxation that begins with a eucalyptus footbath and continues with an aromatherapy massage, warm compresses and a heavenly scented misting of the spa’s signature fragrance, orange blossoms. But I wasn’t done: I also enjoyed the 80-minute Signature Neroli (the spa’s name for the orange blossom fragrance) Antioxidant Facial ($190), which included a moisturizing hand treatment and foot massage. I left the spa with glowing skin, relaxed muscles and silky-soft hands.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa
Orlando Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando
At the sumptuous Ritz-Carlton Spa, I
indulged in the new hammock massage ($230 for 70 minutes) and scrub bar ($15-$65). The former takes place outdoors in a rooftop garden, and it’s unlike any spa treatment I had ever experienced. It departs from the average massage in two key ways: first, no oils are used; second, much of the massage is performed as the masseur lies beneath the hammock to access the back. Better or even as good as a traditional massage? Let’s just say it’s different.
The scrub bar, meanwhile, allows guests to create their own custom body scrubs to take home. After one use, my skin felt like silk. It’ll be a sad day when I run out of this wondrous mint-and-pumice concoction.
The Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando
The posh Waldorf Astoria spa opened in October, making it only the second Guerlain spa in the country. (The other is in the original Waldorf Astoria in New York.)
The new spa immediately raised the bar among the luxury facilities in Orlando; let’s just hope it doesn’t lead others to raise their prices. How could any facial be worth $400?
Well, I have to say that the Exceptional Orchidée Impériale Treatment I got at the Waldorf spa actually did have more dramatic and lasting results than any facial I’ve ever had. The cost of the facial can be attributed at least in part to the expensive Guerlain products used: The retail prices of just two of the many masques, cleansers and creams used on my face are $156 and $225.
The treatment left my skin soft and glowing for days, and the aesthetician even plucked my eyebrows. I left the spa feeling refreshed, pampered and even a bit chic, thanks to my immaculately arched brows.
Woodhouse Day Spa
8060 Via Dellagio Way, Suite 102, Orlando
Many “day spas” are simply glorified hair or nail salons with a couple of treatment rooms for facials and massages tacked on. Not so with the Woodhouse. This elegant facility is devoted entirely to head-to-toe care and pampering.
I had a top-notch Woodhouse Pedicure ($90) and the spa’s signature facial, the Minkyti ($140), which combines skin-enhancing lotions and masks with accupressure and massage. The highlight was the algae mask infused with essential oils; it left my skin smooth and soft to the touch.