I’ve always had a near-fatal attraction towards weird things: Venus flytraps, naked mole rats, the steamy sex lives of chimps, Salvador Dali, Grapples (apples infused with a grape scent to make them more appealing to kids), Bjork, Inuit throat singers, Anthony Bourdain’s lunch box of bovine penis and wildebeest entrails—these things tickle my fancy.
Imagine my thrill when I came across the adverts for bird dropping facials and cat crap coffee. My thrill meter reached roller coaster ride-levels when I read this “Beer: It’s not just for drinking.” I was skimming Healing Lifestyles and Spas magazine, when I felt my testosterone spike. A beer spa? The Chodovar Brewery in Czechoslovakia has become every man’s wet dream. In the vaulted cellars of Chodovar, you can indulge in a beer bath of live yeast and steep in the molasses-coloured depths. The one-two punch of Vitamin B and crushed hops helps nourish neglected skin, hair, nails and even aids in battling anxiety. Iron and carbon dioxide bubbles increase the skin’s circulation as the beer brew boils your joints at an intense 34 degrees. Fan club members boast that the beer bubble bath soothes psoriasis, acne and joint pain.
Rules are that while soaking you must sip a pint of beer to aid digestion. When you and your liver reach a prune-like state, the spa attendants wrap you in sheepskin and let you snooze on a bed of barley hay. When you regain consciousness you can stumble to the onsite Ve Skale restaurant for a smoked beef tongue with horseradish and mustard. I’ve already decided on the fried carp and knuckle of pork. However, I’d be willing to share a bowl of the tripe soup and another pint of non-bath water with my fellow spa-goers to discuss whether the “overall modulation of dermatic problems and mental disharmonies” (as advertised on the Chodovar website) were resolved.
If the beer bath proved to be all talk no action and I still suffered from dermatic problems and mental disharmony, I’d have to check out the Channings Day Spa in Chicago. My friend Jules lives there—and I’m certain she’d be game for a caviar facial after a catch-up over a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The freeze-dried caviar is imported from Switzerland, and for $185 US, the 90-minute treatment promises to combat wrinkles. Because caviar has the same composition as human skin (70% amino acids and trace minerals), this somehow works. While $185 might seem outrageous, a top of the foot wax at Channings is only $3.
While visiting Channings, it would only make sense that Jules and I opt for one of the special spa services catering to “the young woman just starting out with make-up.” Here we could “learn the fundamentals of proper skin care and how to coordinate wardrobe selection with make-up colour for a stunning effect!” Sixty dollars is a small price to pay to learn which eye shadow to pair with camo cargos and Haviana flip flops.
After fishing for compliments on my caviar complexion, the Euphoria Spa in Detroit would be my next pit stop to buff my bum for the leather chaps-wearing season. Booking the “Sweet Cheeks Derriere Facial” would probably make me the butt of every joke, but this cheeky facial is seriously technical. After a cleanse and exfoliation, a masque is applied and the grand finale comes in the form of a butt wax with warm paraffin. Like a nice bum candle.
Maybe I’d skip the hot cross buns for a soak in green tea or sake at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa in Japan, which is oddly a spa and amusement park. After a day at the Rodeo Mountain heated waterslides, guests can choose from a variety of soaks. The coffee spa is intended to revive fatigued muscles (real coffee made with hot spring water). Word has it that the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, preferred a red wine bath. Obviously she never looked in the mirror after a night of drinking merlot. If a nice bottle of red can turn your teeth clay grey and your tongue as black as a Chow dog’s after a single glass—what would a half-hour soak result in? The green tea spa treatment sounds safest with the promise of powerful anti-oxidant and tumor-fighting catechin, which is also good for one’s complexion.
At Yunnesun, the Mori No Yu zone is a tranquil bathing space where you can experience onsen Japanese-style. The website advises “you can enjoy the bathing experience without a bathing suit. Remember, the bathing experience in Japan means enjoying in Japanese-style for relaxation and pleasure and is not a place to wash your body with soap.” Swimsuits are available for rent at 1,000 yen. I wonder what I’d rather subject myself to—bowling alley bowling shoes or a rental swimsuit that’s probably seen more pee than green tea.
For those wanting to channel Cleopatra beyond the wine bath, rumour has it that the vain dame also liked to sleep with a gold mask on every night. At Yunnesun you can have 24 karat gold sheets applied to your face which will undoubtedly leave your skin feeling like a piñata.
A seasonal treat, much like pumpkin pie, Christmas cake and a June strawberry social is Yunnesun’s Ramen Soup bath. Bathers can share “a steaming broth of pepper, garlic extract and collagen to help boost metabolism and nourish the skin.” Men sweating in a bowl of soup makes me lean towards prettier and pinker options like the Barbie Spa in Shanghai where it’s sugar and spice and everything nice. Barbie must have sold her mobile home and snazzy pink Corvette to afford this splashy Shanghai spa. There’s a posh hair salon where you can no doubt get Barbie bangs, estheticians offer Barbie manis & pedis (did she even have fingernails and toenails on that smooth, supple body?) and you can also take in an afternoon tea if you aren’t worried about keeping Barbie doll dimensions.
Even sweeter is the list of treatments available at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The spa packages read like the very best food porn: exfoliations of cocoa bean husks and walnut shells, foaming chocolate milk baths, chocolate sugar scrubs and a chocolate fondue wrap of warmed Moor mud and essence of cocoa.
When Willy Wonka’s arch enemy, Milton Hershey, travelled to Cuba in 1916, he was so smitten that he bought several sugar plantations and mills there so he could refine sugar for his chocolate factory in the states. The Hershey spa pays tribute to Milton’s Cuban love affair by offering equally sumptuous indulgences like the Mojito Sugar Scrub and a Coffee Body Polish with Dead Sea Salts and Arabic coffee.
If, like me, you find yourself torn between the ramen noodle hot tub and the Cleopatra lifestyle, there’s one more option that will split your decision. Ada Barak, who owns the Carnivorous Plant Farm and Barak Snake Spa in Northern Israel, has become a media darling. The introduction of snakes as a therapeutic treatment was only natural to her, even “biblical” as Barak explained to Reuters. Women and snakes came together in the Garden of Eden, ‘nuff said. When an elderly woman told her that the snake coiled around her felt like a cold compress, the idea for opening a snake spa instantly slithered into Barak’s mind.
So, tell me. Will it be an hour with the biblical snakes, caviar in your crack or a beer bath followed by a beef tongue with horseradish?
Chodovar Beer Spa: http://www.chodovar.cz/id216en-beer-wellness-land.htm
Caviar at Channings: http://channings.com/
Wine soaks at Yunessun: http://www.yunessun.com/english/yunessun.html
Barbie Bangs and Barbie-tinis: http://www.barbieshanghai.com/en/SPA.html
The Hotel Hershey: http://www.chocolatespa.com/index.php
Ada Barak talkin’ about her biblical snakes: http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=11749