A spa is a spa is a spa, right? Not quite. These special escapes distinguish themselves by providing total experiences as unique as their locales.
Take North Carolina's famous golf resort, Pinehurst, for example. If you've come to swing through 18, reserve a Golfer's Massage ($110 for 50 minutes) after your round to knead out all the bogey-induced knots in your shoulders, back, and legs. Sense the scents and textures of the Carolina Sandhills in many of the treatments' skin-care products (for sale in the spa shop) custom-made from the region's holly berries, pine oils, sand, and clay. After your session, ease into a lounge chair in the common area, illuminated by a massive skylight. Henry David Thoreau once penned, "Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its evergreen arms to the light." These words now stretch across the walls of the lobby, inviting guests to the restorative benefits of time spent in the pines. The Spa at Pinehurst: 1-800-487-4653 or www.pinehurst.com.
San Antonio, Texas
Make a subtle nod to the Hispanic culture here with a Spanish Rosemary Herbal Massage ($105 for 50 minutes) designed to relieve the sorest and most tense muscles. The aroma of boiled herbs fills the air and creates a serenity far more peaceful than the lively River Walk just steps away. The spa also offers Cypress, White Lavender, and Vanilla Rose Herbal Massages. Watermark Hotel and Spa: toll-free 1-866-605-1212 or www.watermarkhotel.com.
Sitting on a 200-acre working farm about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C., the Inn Spa at Poplar Springs delivers a luxurious experience. The Custom Massage ($165 for 80 minutes) begins with a consultation with a massage therapist who designs a session using several techniques. Check out the International Water Bar with refreshing stills and sparklings from around the world. Inn Spa at Poplar Springs: 1-800-490-7747 or www.poplarspringsinn.com.
"Indonesian brides used to get a treatment like the Javanese Lulur Royal Treatment ($250 for 110 minutes) for 40 days straight until their wedding day," says Spa Terre director Ilana Craig. After a Balinese massage, exfoliation with herbs and minerals, and a cool yogurt splash, soak in a wooden Japanese tub full of warm water, essential oils, and rose petals. Spa Terre at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort: (239) 598-5117 or www.laplayaresort.com.
This article is from the January 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.