When dreaming of the ultimate pampering that a day spa experience should offer, we envision total immersion into a serene world of massages and beauty treatments in luxurious surroundings with staff so attentive that we are tricked into believing we are royalty.
While there are numerous places around town that offer massages and facials, when CultureMap went looking for the ultimate day spa experiences, we found the offerings much slimmer than one might expect. Herewith, a look at H-Town's top day spas, those that deliver on treatments and service but also on atmosphere.
Ten years ago, Fiori opened its wrought iron gates and heavy wooden doors to a clientele that has since been luxuriously cosseted amid Italianate surroundings. The free-standing Tuscan-inspired villa was built by spa owners to capture the esthetic charm and tranquility of the Italian countryside.
Treatment rooms for massages and facials are complemented by an underground grotto where dips in the mineral pool and whirlpool are truly other-worldly.
Fourteen treatment rooms for massages and facials are complemented by an underground grotto where dips in the mineral pool and whirlpool are truly other-worldly. Lunches are catered by nearby Palazzo's Trattoria and served in quaint dining areas complete with Venetian glass chandeliers. An outdoor, yet secluded, mineral pool with fountains is another option for relaxation as is the adjacent wine garden, a vast expanse of greenery for sunning, lunching or perhaps a round of yoga.
Even without partaking of the array of treatments — everything from waxing and lashes and a variety of facials and massages — a visit to Fiori is to be transported far from the hustle and bustle of the Galleria area.
Added bonus — great shopping in the spa boutique.
Trellis at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, (713) 685-6790
Set amid a virtual forest of trees and heavy landscaping on the Houstonian acreage, Trellis is a world unto itself and a beautiful world it is. The feel is Mediterranean luxe with thick stucco walls, stone flooring and California-chic decorative touches in the free-standing spa.
Serenity is the theme of the spa that features 22 treatment rooms (13 for massages and nine for facials), separate hair salon separate nail salon, a comfy tranquility room, a sophisticated coed float pool and eucalyptus steam rooms. Spray tanning and makeup applications are included in the service menu. Packages range from a three-hour facial and manicure set to the 6 1/2-hour Diamond Experience which includes lunch or dinner.
For those making a day of it, and many go for the longer stays, chilled lunches and dinners are catered from the Houstonian kitchen.
Added bonus — great shopping in the boutique.
Mokara Spa at the Omni Houston Hotel, 713-624-4876
Another hotel spa pleasantly removed from the check-in/check-out cacophony is Mokara, a sleek and sophisticated oasis in the hotel's new wing. A serene Asian vibe, thanks in part to the satiny bamboo flooring throughout, permeates the 7,000 square foot retreat. Whirlpools, saunas and meditation lounge are among the soothing options.
A couples massage is followed by a bubble bath dip into roiling waters.
Eight private treatment rooms and salon offer a full range of services but perhaps the most interesting option is the couples treatment suite with hydrotherapy tub where the couples massage is followed by a bubble bath dip into roiling waters.
Though Mokara is part of a national group, there is nothing about it that says chain. But as a special enticement to out-of-town visitors, Mokara Houston offers a Texas Coastal Herb Poultice Massage and a Texas Chardonnay Therapy Facial.
Added bonus — any one-hour treatment entitles visitors to use of the Omni's spacious pool.
The ZaSpa at Hotel ZaZa, 713-639-4566
It's sexy. It's hip. And it's the perfect escape for those seeking a "sensual, transcendent experience," just the sort of ambience that one would expect from the quirky ZaZa. While indulgent spa options include the full range of body treatments, massages, skin care and nail services, there is a certain hedonistic creativity to the varieties.
Take, for example, The Morning After treatment — "Purge last night's party," the promo reads "with a sea salt scrub, detoxifying seaweed wrap and full body massage." Another option is the Fatal Charms Body Cocoon, "this luxurious treatment includes body exfoliation, hot stone wrap and Swedish massage."
Sanctuary Spa d'Sante, 713-622-7722
Houston's longest-running day spa, which opened 30 years ago on West Alabama, occupies quaint digs on South Shepherd Drive on the edge of River Oaks. While this isn't your total immersion in a vast tranquil environment, it is a solid, well-established resource for the ultimate in body and skin care treatments.
Special treatments not found elsewhere in the city set Sanctuary apart. These include various hydrotherapy treatments, LED light therapy, collagen induction, chemical peels and numerous facial and skin treatments. The Source Vitál line of cosmetics is sold here along with other skin care products and a sprinkling of glitzy accessories.
Unique to Sanctuary is the Yoni steam chair, a Korean-based experience for women, designed to handle all manner of vaginal and uterine needs.
Urban Retreat, 713-523-2300
At its relatively new location in River Oaks Shopping Center, Urban Retreat continues to command the salon scene as it did for decades under previous ownership of Francie Willis. The new space is contemporary and deliciously sleek with completely separate rooms for hair dressing and nail services, a separate wing for skin treatments and facials and yet another separate area for massages. A wealth of services is offered by licensed specialists.
We love the lounge with its sophisticated living room feel and its overlook onto the terrace which offers commanding views of the downtown skyline. The space, as is the entire salon, is available not only for wedding parties, so popular at spas, but also for corporate events, birthdays, fashion shows and the like.
The same wonderful finds in jewelry, accessories and beauty products offered at the old San Felipe location make this a shopping destination as well as a beautification spot.
Etheria Salon & Day Spa, 713-526-7551
As much beauty salon as day spa, Etheria offers the best of both worlds in a contemporary space built around a lush interior garden which inspires the Zen mood to which the spa aspires. This heart-of-Montrose spot offers therapeutic facials, relaxing body treatments and hair and nail services.
While the hair salon is bustling, the pedicure/nail section enjoys its own private space with a view to the verdant garden. The actual spa, complete with his and hers dressing and locker rooms, couples massage room and massage and facial rooms is secluded and quiet. Serenity continues in the cozy relaxation rooms. A Vichy shower and underwater massage with hydrotherapy are among the varied offerings.