There is nothing like the feeling of stretching out face-down on a comfortable mattress as someone gently kneads the tension out of your muscles. The sheer strain of a stressful day and a long commute simply melts away in the hands of a quality spa professional. People pay handsomely to
capture the essence of such a feeling, but fortunately for us on the First Coast, ecstasy is a little more affordable. Several spas in the area offer innovative relaxing treatments that cost about the same as a nice dinner or a new dress. And, in addition to the short-term relaxation, several treatments can significantly improve your complexion, muscle tone and overall sense of well-being for days. Think of these options as an investment in your own serenity.
••• For a different kind of massage treatment, Seventh Wonder Day Spa near Ortega offers hot stone therapy. This ancient form of therapeutic massage relies on heating smooth black stones and placing them along strategic points on the back, neck and body. The heat helps soothe trouble spots by relieving tension in some of the body's most stress-prone areas. A 60-minute hot stone treatment will set you back $100.
••• For an unusual (and surprisingly affordable) relaxation experience, Massage Bliss on the city's Southside offers an infrared sauna treatment. This kind of sauna is revered by the likes of Dr. Oz, Bob Green (Oprah's fitness coach) and The Doctors for its health benefits. The infrared sauna rids your body of harmful toxins, and just one treatment is said to help lower blood pressure and improve circulation. It can also burn between 200-600 calories. A 20-minute session starts at $30, with a $15 introductory special.
••• One Ocean Resort and Spa in Atlantic Beach serves up an array of unique treatments. This full-service spa is famous for its incorporation of marine-based elements into its menu of indulgent therapies. “One treatment we offer is the Earth & Sea Scrub massage,” says spa director Beverly Fox-Crismond. “For this, we use pure ingredients such as sea salt and organic sugar cane for a scrub that makes your skin radiant and shiny. It’s a great way to exfoliate.” A 50-minute treatment runs for $115. Pictured left is the couples massage that runs from $205-$285.
••• Just down the coast, one can find a variety of soothing services at The Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. A recent winner of the Best Day Spa title in the 2012 Best of Jacksonville poll, this spa offers a special treatment designed specifically for expectant mothers. “This is one of the most unique treatments around,” says Andy Radovic, vice president of sales and marketing. “It is extremely relaxing and uses gentle pressure and massage that addresses some of the deep discomfort often associated with pregnancy.” A 50-minute treatment runs $120. Just be sure to consult a doctor before you relax in the sauna or Jacuuzzi in the locker room.