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Spa visit may not be cheap, but aaaah, that relaxation

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Staff / January 18, 2004

Maybe it's these stressful times, but more and more people of both genders are spending part of their vacations being massaged, covered with oils or slaked with mud, luxuriating in scented baths, and otherwise having their cares soothed away . . . for a little while at least. Although sometimes adding significantly to your costs, spa treatments are now an established (and profitable) part of the hotel and cruise scene, as these offers indicate. Be advised: Many of them are at high-end properties, and although package plans may mean savings, we're not talking bargain rates here.

The new Avanyu Spa at the Equinox Resort in Manchester, Vt., takes its name from a Tewa Native American name for a mythical water serpent, and that somehow symbolizes the restorative power of water.

While some treatments at the 13,00-square-foot spa are exclusive to the Equinox, they may give the uninitiated an idea what spa care is all about. There are sports massages, immediate relief massages, and mother-to-be-massages, each $95 for 50 minutes. The Mountain Man facial ($145 for 75 minutes) is a deep cleaning treatment just for men. Maple Scrub ($95 for 50 minutes) mixes vitamins, antioxidants, and -- yes! -- pure Vermont maple sugar to restore skin moisture. And the Equinox Essential ($165 for 80 minutes) is a head-to-toe massage incorporating Vermont's state flower, the Red Clover. Non-hotel guests can add a $40 fee for spa use.

For those who prefer an inclusive plan, the Avanyu Spa Package begins at $1,507 per person, double occupancy, and features four nights' superior accommodations; three nutritionally balanced meals daily; use of the spa fitness facilities; daily nature walks (cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in season); body composition analysis followed by a private training session; a 50-minute massage; one spa manicure and one spa pedicure; one rejuvenation treatment; one 75-minute facial; personalized training on Nautilus, and with free weights and cardiovascular ; participation in all scheduled classes; and a gift from the Avanyu Spa boutique.

(The fine print: Tax and gratuities are not included. Packages are not available during holiday periods.)

Call 888-FOR-ROCK or visit www.equinox.rockresorts.com.

In time for Valentine's Day, but available through April 23, the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino has a Romance Package that includes a half-hour massage for two, along with a bottle of sparkling wine, a sunset sail, dinner for two at the award-winning Sunset Grille, daily al fresco breakfast at the resort's Laguna restaurant, chocolate and cordials, and his and her bathrobes. Rates begin at $2,609 for five nights, taxes included.

Call 800-333-3333 or visit www.radisson.com/aruba.

Miraval Life In Balance Resort and Spa, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Tucson area, has complimentary daily spa treatments, hiking, biking, golf, tennis, ''bodymindfulness" (fitness) classes, courage-building challenge activities, nutrition workshops, and gourmet ''Conscious Cuisine." Through May 15, a seven-night package includes casita-style accommodations, three meals daily, and all non-alcoholic beverages, a $95 credit toward a spa service or round of golf per person per night of stay, use of pools and the fitness center, and round-trip Tucson Airport transfers. Rates start at $2,999 per person, double occupancy, plus tax and service charges. If you're there the weekend of Valentine's Day, there will be a free couples' massage, plus champagne and strawberries.

Call 800-232-3969 or visit www.miravalresort.com.

In Scottsdale, Ariz., meanwhile, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North offers two 50-minute spa treatments of choice as part of its three-night Desert Paradise of Choice package. Also included are a 60-minute golf lesson for two, dinner for two at the resort's Acacia steak house, daily breakfast for two, and a fourth night of complimentary accommodations. The price is $425 per room per night.

(The fine print: The price excludes occupancy tax, alcohol, and golf gratuity.)

Call 888-207-9696 or visit www.fourseasons.com.

The price advantages of visiting off season are evident at the Vail (Colo.) Cascade Resort & Spa. Its Awe of Aria Spa Package starts at $489 a night through April 18, and $179 a night April 19-Dec. 11. The package includes accommodations for two and one 50-minute massage at the Aria Spa Club.

Call 800-282-4183 or visit www.vailcascade.com.

The Halekulani, one of the premier hotels in Waikiki, not long ago added the SpaHalekulani, which incorporates the healing traditions of Hawaii's varied cultures, especially those from Pacific islands such as Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti. Here's a sampling of some of its services: The Elegant Passage ($390 including tip) is a 2-hour treatment, beginning with the spa's exclusive foot-pounding ritual followed by a massage, a steam shower, and facial. The Grand Voyage ($490 with tip) takes four hours and includes the foot pounding, massage, and facial, plus a light lunch, manicure, and pedicure. The Heavenly Journey ($640 including tip) is also four hours, beginning with the ever-popular foot pounding, followed by a deluxe body treatment, massage, light refreshments, and a facial.

A four-night spa package, available through Dec. 25, includes two spa experiences, refreshments, and various amenities as well as a daily buffet breakfast or full American breakfast. Price ranges from $2,100 (ocean view) to $2,400 (Diamond Head ocean front), single or double occupancy.

Call 800-367-2343 or visit www.halekulani.com.

For an exotic setting to go along with your treatments, there's the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with the Twelve Apostles mountain range as a backdrop. The hotel's Sanctuary Spa is featuring the ''Body Beautiful" treatment, starting at $2,171 per person, double occupancy, which features all of this: seven nights' accommodation; daily mountain walks followed by a full English breakfast; daily use of the Sanctuary Spa with its heated rock pool, cold water plunge pool, aroma steam room, sauna, and flotation pool; dinner in the Azure Restaurant one evening; dinner on the deck of your room overlooking the Atlantic one evening; a picnic basket; a votive candle at turndown; mineral water, fruit juices, and herbal teas; linen bathrobes and slippers; complimentary transfers to the waterfront and city center; a movie showing in the hotel's private cinema; a day trip to a boutique wine estate, followed by lunch; a spa gift pack; and yoga and Pilates on alternative days on the hotel's deck, surrounded by views of the mountains.

(The fine print: There is also a 1 percent tourism levy. Rates are subject to fluctuation of the exchange rate.)

Call 27-21-437-9000, e-mail bookta@rchmail.com, or visit www.12apostleshotel.com.

And for those who want to see the animals of Africa but not exactly rough it, Abercrombie & Kent has a new concept called the Spafari, which blends game viewing with luxury accommodations, and spa treatments. Highlights of Southern Africa, for instance, includes Cape Town, game viewing in a private reserve in Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls, and a Zambesi River cruise. Prices for an 11-day trip start at $3,685 per person.

Call 800-323-7308 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.

Cheaper flightsJetBlue, with its low-cost flights to popular destinations, has arrived at Logan International Airport. But other airlines are offering deals as well. For example, if you fly two qualifying round trips on American Airlines' nonstop service from Boston to California or Florida between now and April 15, you will get a free round-trip ticket to anywhere AA flies -- 250 cities in 40 countries. But first you must register by visiting www.aa.com/offers and entering the promotion code AABOS, or by calling 800-882-8880. Follow the prompts and, when asked, enter AABOS. For more information, visit www.aacom/bosfreeticket and read the fine print.

. . .

US Airways Vacations is offering a Companion Flies Free special to Europe for bookings made through Jan. 28, valid for travel Jan. 28 through May 31. Vacations include round-trip air, hotel, daily breakfast, and hotel taxes and service charges -- but not airport taxes and fees of about $100. Under this offer, three-night European vacations begin at $363 per person, plus the flight fees.

Call 800-352-8747 or visit usairwaysvacations.com.

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