Spa aaaaaaaaah: Alaska spas cater to executives.

Author:Bohi, Heidi

After a pressure-cooker week of meetings and deadlines, a glass of wine, three Advil and a hot bath--followed by my boyfriend karate chopping the length of my back with a soothing, "Am I hurting you?"--I realized that these were the only comforts this executive ever knew of spa treatments. While colleagues and friends raved about French this and Swedish that, I doubted the powers of a eucalyptus oil rubdown with a CD of ocean waves playing in the background.

That was before I got my body polished. What was once a decision between indulgence or well-being, has since been replaced with a choice of treatments that make me feel good, are good for me, and in some cases, have noticeably improved my appearance. Although spa clients nationwide report that massage remains their favorite treatment, it is only one offering on the extensive menu of treatments that includes services that soothe aches and pains, boost our energy level, or take us to a happy place with a combination of touch, massage and bodywork that restores our mind, body and spirit--often in less than an hour.


Spas descend from the ancient practice of bathing in hot springs and mineral waters, dating back to the Babylonians and Greeks. During the 19th century, many European spas were destinations for the wealthy that went there to "take the waters." Today, day spas, destination spas, resort spas, cruise spas, medical spas, eco spas, vacation spas, club spas, and mineral spring spas comprise a flourishing industry that includes 6,000 storefronts in the United States and is growing at an annual rate of 21 percent. Every year, 95 million visits are made to spas in the United States, generating $5 billion in revenues--more than ski resorts ($3.1 billion) and only slightly less than box office receipts ($7.5 billion). According to the International Spa Association, this can be attributed to consumers' increasing focus on prevention and fitness and wanting to escape work-related stress, especially among baby boomers and the aging generation that makes up more than half of the country's population.


In Alaska alone there are about 25 day spas in Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Valdez, North Pole, Soldotna, Girdwood and Anchorage. Increasingly, executives, maxed out mothers, athletes and seniors are walking into spas for Dead Sea salt scrubs, aromatherapy, reiki, seaweed thalassotheraphy, detoxification, body polishes, watsu, rasul, hypnotherapy, grand repechage, four-hands massage, mud wraps, sugar glow, aqua chi, body wraps, breath work, chakra balancing, raindrop therapy, effervescent sea foam packs, gem therapy, Lomilomi and aura imaging.


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