Sure, there's Calistoga, a whole town devoted to pummeling flesh and soothing away the body's knots with everything from mud and mineral springs to essential oils. But some of us can't wait to schedule that destination spa stay. Voilà, the day spa; herewith a varied sampling of some in the Bay Area:
Harmonie European Day Spa — 14501 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, (408) 741-4997; www.harmoniespa.com
- Who goes: Many unabashedly hedonistic dot.commers
- Ambience: Romantic decor transporting you to France's Loire Valley with château paintings and soft music.
- Menu highlight: More than 40 antistress treatments, including a 30-minute power facial for people on the go. Most indulgent: The eight-hour Versailles spa day includes a eucalyptus steam bath, massage, and more
Lisa Bradbury Skincare Salon — 1756 Fillmore St., San Francisco, (415) 441-7470
- Who goes: Devoted regulars who call the comfortable Pacific Heights salon a second home
- Ambience: Discreet, sunny Victorian flat is furnished with white wicker, antiques, walls hung with art for sale
- Menu highlight: Emphasis on rejuvenating skin and facials that incorporate relaxation
Refresh Spa — 1130 Post St. (near Van Ness Ave.), San Francisco, (415) 563-2316.
- Who goes: Urbane twentysomethings, male and female, to elderly folks
- Ambience: Soothing industrial loft interior with Euro decor heavy on Zen influence
- Menu highlight: More than two dozen treatments, with eight types of massage including pohaki, an island-style stone massage.
Spa Radiance — 3061 Fillmore St., San Francisco, (415) 346-6281; www.sparadiance.com.
- Who goes: The city's upper crust, as well as the likes of actress Sharon Stone
- Ambience: Bright Victorian flat with boudoirlike treatment rooms named for flowers
- Menu highlight: Angelina Umansky's homemade rejuvenation recipes, handed down by her Russian grandmother Rose, whose treatments were once a sought-after black-market item in Moscow. A Balinese massage uses oil and long strokes; other massages use detoxifying seaweed or heated river stones that warm muscles.
Stellar Spa — 26 Tamalpais Dr., Corte Madera,
(415) 924-7300; www.stellarspa.com.
- Who goes: Marin County sybarites, original adherents to the hedonistic motto "We want it all now."
- Ambience: Bamboo floors, subdued lighting, New Age music, and the sound of flowing water that says, "You can have it all."
- Menu highlight: Accent is on aromatherapy massage with custom blended oils and a negative ion inhalation therapy that uses misted seawater imported from France.
Kabuki Springs & Spa — Japan Center, 1750 Geary, San Francisco, (415) 922-6000; www.kabukisprings.com.
- Who goes: Bay Area locals, many with an inclination for Eastern spirituality.
- Ambience: Pan-Asian with burning incense, meditation bells rung to remind attendees to maintain quiet demeanor; attendants on hand with towels.
- Menu highlight: The Kabuki is unique among day spas, with hot and cold plunges, steam and sauna rooms, and its focus on wellness. Japanese-style massage has expanded to incorporate techniques from Thailand (yoga massage), India (ayurvedic balancing), and Indonesia (Javanese lulur).
La Belle Salons — locations in San Francisco, (415) 433-7644, and
Palo Alto, (650) 326-8522 or (650) 327-6964;
- Who goes: Loyal clients (some have enjoyed Russian émigré Bella Schneider's treatments for the past 25 years).
- Ambience: San Francisco salon has a European flair; larger Peninsula salons have a more modern feel.
- Menu highlight: One-stop salon with everything from facials and rubdowns to French seaweed wraps, salt scrubs, body polishes using Dead Sea salts.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in March 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.