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The rise of the speedy spa visit

Whether it’s business or pleasure travel, more often than not you arrive at your hotel tired and grungy, shoulders stiff and neck aching, and your skin dehydrated from the dermal insult that is flying. But you’ve got a meeting to get to, or you’re itching to soak in your surroundings and the last thing you want is to spend an hour-plus in a spa. That’s why Maryse Vernillet, the spa director at the Langham Boston, added three Express Treatments to the hotel’s Chuan Body + Soul spa menu this past summer: “Our spa treatments are well designed to address various needs,” Vernillet says, “but I saw there wasn’t the right treatment for someone who has less time to spend.”

At 45 minutes each, these massage and facial treatments trim the fat, but don't cut down on benefit. "They are only 45 minutes, but it's 45 minutes in a busy day where the client is the focus," says Maryse Vernillet. "They own the 45-minutes." That can be a big health boost in relaxation and reinvigorating self-energy. "With the massage, whatever they want to focus on, I do. You can't focus on the whole body in that time, but the really tense areas get the work."

Vernillet says that business travelers and Financial District workers jumped on the streamlined facial: "The facial is an instant booster for a tired appearance," she says. "I selected it because you walk out and you look good, ready for your meeting."


So far, the Langham, Boston is the only Langham hotel offering the shorter treatments: "If they work for our guests, who knows, our other hotels might add them, too."

Already, plenty of hotels see the need for mini treatments: the Boston Harbor Hotel's Head in the Clouds Massage is 25 minutes of localized deep tissue work focused on the neck, back, and shoulders; Florida's new luxury Naples Grande Beach Resort's spa has the intense 25-minute Micro Current Express Facial to get guests glamorous and ready to go; and The Spa at Omni Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire has a 25-minute scalp and face massage, and a 25 minute localized body massage (you choose the area). "The express treatments are a great alternative for guests who are busy with the resort's other activities, such as golf and skiing, as well as for conference guests who may not have a lot of available leisure time, but want to have a few moments of relaxation with us," says Jesse Tyler, Omni Mount Washington Resort's spa director.


This past summer, Hilton's eforea spas added three 30-minute mini treatments in all 20 locations. "It's a very different approach to traditional spa treatments," says Miriam Liberman, the eforea spa director at Hilton Short Hills, in New Jersey. "These might be shorter in duration, but they are concentrated. The usual 60- or 90-minute massage covers the entire body, but the 30-minute is extremely targeted. Take the head and face treatment, which works great for people who get stress headaches, if this were part of a normal full treatment, the area would be worked on for five to eight minutes. In 30 minutes, we can give the full benefits of our Chinese medicine philosophy, and create a truly relaxing experience with meaningful health benefits."

Does this mean the three-hour spa bash is a thing of the past? "It isn't a thing of the past by any means," says Liberman. "But people are seeing the health value in having shorter spa treatments, but more frequently."

Linda Clarke can be reached at soundz@me.com.