Spafinder 25th Anniversary

Spafinder: Through the Years

Spa Nostalgia Slideshows

Treatments Through Time

The options on our spa menus now seem endless as trailblazing spa directors strive to cook up the unique, the indigenous, the most luxuriously delightful and beneficial treatments that reflect their singular missions, locations, and concepts (whether high or basic). From simple, back-kneading massages to a diamond-dusting facial, we show you what treatments were and what they"ve become.


It"s the bread and butter of spa menus. Now you"d be hard-pressed to find a spa that doesn"t have massage on the menu, but back in the early days of spa, it might have been the only thing. Scroll through this slideshow for a glimpse into how the spa menu has grown over the years

Photo credit: Golden Door

Old is New

The saying "what goes around comes around" applies to spas too. Not only have spas reintroduced traditional bathing rituals that were the foundation of spa (as in solas per aqum) but, over the years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, and other types of ancient methods have been recycled into spa offerings. Twenty years ago, who knew you would be able to get an Ayurvedic Shirodhara treatment at Gurney"s Inn in Montauk?

Photo credit: Flickr user Therme Loipersdorf


A few years ago Spafinder reported that there were more spas in the United States than Starbucks. This means that the basic facial and massage treatment are no longer enough to get a consumer"s attention. Spa menus have started to deviate from the standard by incorporating unique aromas, products, equipment and rituals to capture one"s attention.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Indigenous Ingredients

When visiting Italy, you certainly don"t want McDonald"s for dinner. As the spa industry grows globally, hotels and resorts are recognising that indigenous ingredients and treatments, native to the region, are what people crave the most. For example, at Auberge Resorts" Calistoga Ranch in Upper Napa Valley, two on-site honeybee colonies from the Napa Valley Bee Company provide the ingredient for eco-luxe, honey-infused spa treatments.

Touch Meets Tech

Along with the omnipresent use of computers in the 21st century came a whole host of new aches and pains (and, of course, stresses). In response, spas started offering treatments such as Blackberry hand massage. But new technology isn"t all that bad, as some spas employ cutting-edge wizardry in their treatment rooms.

Luxury Redefined

It used to be that going to a spa was a luxury in itself; but today"s spa-goers crave a bit more bling for their buck. Facials incorporating gold leaf, diamond dust and other precious gems and minerals have popped up on menus, including the Caviar Timeless Facial at La Costa Resort & Spa, which utilises caviar and pearl extract.

Photo credit: La Costa Resort & Spa

Sense Therapy

Touch. It"s what spas are all about. However, the other four senses are starting to get their fair share of attention. Treatments incorporating light therapy and sound and/or vibrational techniques are making waves in spas around the world. At Rancho La Puerta you can partake in chanting and drumming classes or try your luck with crystal bowl therapy to affect brainwave activity (positively, of course).

Photo credit: Rancho La Puerta

Spa for Men

Women aren"t the only ones who want to spa these days. In fact, men account for almost half of spa-goers and, well, they need more to choose from than sports massage. Take, for example, Red Door"s Ideal Break for Men, which is a trifecta of treatments: a deep tissue massage, time save facial, and a gentleman"s pedicure. Or, why not consider the Perfect Shave treatment at the Doral in Miami?

Photo credit: Doral Resort

Different Generations

You are never too old to spa, and, as it turns out, you are never too young. The possibilities are limitless for men and women of every generation. Kiddie spas pamper tots, while spas like the Willow Stream at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa have developed the Stay Active Rx plan, a muscle and joint programme promising pain relief.

Photo credit: The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Quickie Treatments

Wireless, live-stream, 4Gtoday, instantaneous is the standard. And while taking time out of our busy schedules to relax seems like a no-brainer, sometimes we just need a quick fix. Spas have tightened up on timing to offer express, sampler, or mini-sized treatments to help consumers de-stress in 30 minutes or less. Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique"s Facial Bar in Marietta, Georgia, pictured, has guests out in 30 minutes or less.

Photo credit: Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique


Everything and everyone seems to be thinking about the planet. Spas have been using the world"s natural resources for centuries (thinking back to the Romans here) so it"s no wonder that they take sustainability seriously. In addition to using reusable and recyclable materials, Mohonk Mountain House incorporates local natural botanicals found on their mountaintop in treatments.

Photo credit: Mohonk Mountain House


Spa menus used to stay relatively the same; every now and then a new treatment would be added and another might be taken away. However, in recent years, spas have been incorporating seasonal changes into their menus, adding elements, aromas and products that provide extra hints of the season to enhance the sensory experience.

Photo credit: Cal-a-Vie


In the 1950s, there were two kinds of toothpaste; today you can spend hours in the toothpaste aisle considering your options. The wealth of possibilities translates to the spa as well, where guests can choose everything from the type of aromatic oils to music, lighting, and temperature. Not enough? Brenners Park, pictured here, offers a fully customisable medical spa package based on your diagnostic measurements and health requirements.

Photo credit: Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa


At one time, a rejuvenating facial was as close as one could get to "enhancements." Today Botox can be found in a slew of spas around the world, and some, like Clinique la Prairie, are even more revolutionary in the field of esthetics: They started offering sheep cell injections in 1931 as part of their revitalisation programme.

Photo credit: Clinique La Prairie

Sleep Therapy Awakens

Evidence proves that sleep is one of the most important factors in our everyday health. Recognising they could be helpful, destinations like Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa are developing sleep-therapy programmes. There are even a few spas dedicated solely to the practice of slumber.

Photo credit: Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa


Studies have shown that the word wellness started its exponential growth in popularity around the 1950s. While the ancient antecedents of wellness include philosophies such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of "wellness" has been a recent phenomenon. And spas are tapping into this rediscovered notion of wellbeing. A perfect example is Vermont"s New Life Hiking Spa, whose mission is to reach "your next level of physical and emotional wellness."

Photo credit: New Life Hiking Spa

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