It seems people will go to great lengths to relax and feel younger. Here are some of the most bizarre spa treatments you can sign up for around the world.
This photo says it all: Guests at Ada Barak's Carnivorous Plant Farm and Spa in Talmei Elazar, Israel are paying money to have snakes — all nonvenomous, thankfully — crawl on their backs for a special reptilian massage. Slitherers big and small can tackle muscles in need of deep kneading, and people report it’s actually relaxing. People who aren’t terrified of snakes, that is.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Arctic Spa
Kelowna, British Columbia, is famous for its cold winters and award-winning ice wine made from frozen grapes. It seems appropriate that this is also where you can try out a cold sauna, which is exactly as it sounds. At the Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, guests can sign up for "cryotherapy," which involves spending up to three minutes in a room cooled to -110 degrees Celsius. The experience is said to reduce inflammation and improve joint and muscle function, among other things.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Bizarre Baths
The Hakone Hot Springs Spa Resort & Amusement Park in Hakone, Japan, is like the Disneyland of spas. Not only are there water slides and rides for kids, there are different themed pools — Turkish, Roman and Aegean — designed for adults. For a more unique form of therapy, hop in one of the “beverage” pools filled with either coffee, green tea, wine or Japanese sake. Sadly, the ramen noodle bath no longer is on the menu.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Salt Caves, Chicago
Bath salts have long been tossed into tubs to soothe aching muscles. In Chicago, you can take this concept to the extreme and hang out in the only salt-iodine caves in the United States. Galos Caves uses crystallized Black Sea salt to create rooms covered floor to ceiling in salt: Guests pay $15 for 45 minutes relaxing in a reclining chair and soaking up the benefits — which, if you believe the claims, can help with everything from neuroses and exhaustion to skin and sinus issues.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Gold Facial
If it’s good enough for Cleopatra, it’s good enough for us, right? Legend says that the Egyptian queen slept with a gold mask on her face every night. Spas are starting to use gold in facial treatments as a way to slow down the breakdown of collagen, reduce age spots, wrinkles and well, you get the idea. Japan-based Umo Universe originated the concept of a 24-karat gold facial, but you can try a similar one a bit closer to home, in New Mexico: The Nidah Spa at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe uses a gold-infused oil during a cleansing facial.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Fishy Pedicures
It seems some people will go to great lengths for smooth heels. This bizarre pedicure involves sticking your feet into a tub of water filled with toothless fish that then nibble away at the dead skin. Fishy pedicures originated in Turkey and a handful of locations in the country offer the service, including Yvonne’s Day Spa in Alexandria, Va. If you live in Washington state, however, you are out of luck: The state outlawed the treatment, saying it is unsanitary.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Caviar Facial
If you’re tired of eating caviar, try slathering it on your face for what’s billed as the ultimate anti-aging treatment. Offered at the Lodge at Woodloch in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, among other locations, this special treatment exposes your skin to protein-rich and moisturizing fish eggs. At $250 it’s not cheap — and no, you can’t eat the leftovers, so don’t look for blinis on the spa menu.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Geisha Facial
Geisha facial is just a nice way of saying "bird-poo facial." The magic ingredient in this Japanese-inspired treatment is the powdered droppings of nightingales, sanitized by ultraviolet treatment and odor-neutralized. Known as uguisu no fun by the geishas and kabuki actors who needed to maintain a porcelain-perfect skin, the treatment is now offered at spas such as the Shizuka New York Day Spa in Manhattan, where the facial runs $180.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Virtual Dolphin Therapy
The sound of waves is often considered relaxing, so how about the sound of dolphins in the waves? La Quinta Healing Arts in the Southern California town of La Quinta offers this meditation-style therapy. In the special "dolphin room," guests lie down on a liquid crystal sound-wave table that vibrates with music and sound. Listen to ocean waves and dolphin vocalizations and watch dolphins swimming for an all-around sensory experience.
Extreme Spa Treatments: Russian Platza
Forget salt scrubs. You haven’t been truly exfoliated until you undergo a traditional Russian platza treatment. At the Body by Brooklyn spa in New York, a broom made of oak leaves, reportedly a natural astringent that can remove toxins and open pores, is soaked in fragrant water — then used to scrub and tap your back to remove dead skin. Don’t feel like being whacked with a broom? At Body by Brooklyn, you can opt for a tamer chocolate massage instead.