Do you remember your first Swedish massage? It probably felt magical. If you're a regular spa-goer, however, "Swedish" isn't special anymore; instead, it's standard. If you want to feel the magnificence of your muscles melting again, like you did your very first time on the massage table, you've got to up the ante. Spa treatments that utilize unusual techniques or exotic ingredients are just what the spa-doctor ordered. The following five treatments, in particular, are a surefire way to raise the stakes -- especially for incentive recipients, for whom the promise of ultimate relaxation will unlock a new level of motivation, satisfaction, and gratitude.
Tatcha Rituals of Japan at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (Half Moon Bay, CA)
Pearls are precious. And so is the memory of having them applied all over your face during one of the most opulent facials you've ever had, which is exactly what you'll experience when you receive the Tatcha Rituals of Japan spa treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. The treatment -- which is among the first offerings on the resort's new "secret spa menu," an ever-changing selection of seasonal spa treatments utilizing indulgent ingredients -- is inspired by the centuries-old beauty rituals of the traditional Japanese Geisha. It begins with an 80-minute gommage treatment to exfoliate and nourish the skin; rare black sugar from the shores of Okinawa is applied to the skin, left to dry, then massaged away to eliminate dead skin cells. That's followed by a 50-minute "pearlescence" facial utilizing ingredients such as crushed pearls, green tea extracts, Okinawa red algae, and rice bran, which are designed to enrich the skin with skin-softening vitamins, minerals, and proteins. A special Japanese bento box of fruit and sweet and salty snacks is the cherry on top of the 130-minute experience, which costs $600.
Gold Cellular Age Restoring Facial at The Confidante Miami Beach (Miami Beach, FL)
What's more luxurious than a facial infused with pearls? How about one infused with gold? Three types of gold, to be exact. That's what's on offer at The Confidante Miami Beach, whose spa offers a Gold Cellular Age Restoring Facial featuring a blend of three naturally occurring golds -- 24-karat gold, white gold, and gold dust -- that are combined together, then applied with an Ila Sonic Wave Therapy Device. The result is increased oxygen to the skin, which increases the production of youth-promoting collagen. An 80-minute treatment costs $200.
Healing Waters of Maui Journey at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (Wailea, HI)
Some people are bath people; others are shower people. Even if you're a shower person, you'll be obsessed with the fine art of soaking after completing the Healing Waters of Maui Journey (pictured) at Grand Wailea, which is home to Hawaii's largest spa. The 110-minute treatment takes place in the spa's famous Terme (thermal) area, where there are waterfall showers, a Roman-style bath, and a Japanese "ofuro" (hot tub). Its centerpiece is a hydrotherapy circuit that consists of five baths representing Maui's clouds, waterfalls, rainforest, streams, and ocean, each of which features its own signature scent and bath salt. At $395, the treatment also includes body exfoliation, a body masque with shower, and meditative tea, followed by a full-body massage, a scalp massage, and a foot wrap.
Precious Ruby Massage at The Peninsula Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills, CA)
When you think of rubies, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Dorothy's ruby slippers in "The Wizard of Oz." Which is appropriate, because you'll be clicking your heels and chanting, "There's no place like Beverly Hills!" after your Precious Ruby Massage at The Peninsula Beverly Hills. The 120-minute treatment celebrates the distinctive red gem, which is said to represent the "heart, passion, and energy of love," according to the spa, which uses it "to promote happiness and to clear negativity." At $410, the treatment includes a full-body dry brushing that's followed by a gardenia- and ylang-ylang-scented body scrub, a hydrating rose-infused clay wrap, a pampering reflexology foot massage, and a full-body massage utilizing ruby-infused massage oil.
Ultimate Indulgence at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park (New York, NY)
Let's face it: The big city can be stressful. The hustle and bustle of Manhattan fades away, however, at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, whose "Ultimate Indulgence" treatment lives up to its name as the "ultimate" spa service. Lasting two hours and costing $745, it begins with a body treatment, moves to a soothing body wrap, and finishes with a massage using a luxurious cream that's infused with caviar extract that lifts and firms the skin. The best part: The treatment is executed by two therapists at the same time, and four hands are always better than two.