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Great Day Spas 2009
Comments () | Published May 1, 2009

A Pedicure Not Worth the Price: Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa

Treatment we had: Signature Pedicure, $70.

What we liked: The staff was professionally pleasant—I overheard regulars chatting about their kids and their lives. The pedicure chairs, which are reclining club chairs, were comfortable—but don’t expect heated or massage seats, as some spas have. There’s no whirlpool bath for your feet, either, although glass marbles in the portable basin were a nice touch. There was a good selection of refreshments, including pomegranate iced tea and cucumber water—although I had to help myself when no one offered me anything. No one offered to take my coat, either—I was told to just throw it over a chair.

What you should know: The pedicure itself was just okay—with minimal attention paid to shaping nails or pumicing rough spots. My technician was a bit rough and overzealous—an area she trimmed around the nail on one big toe hurt the next day.

I couldn’t help feeling the spa itself needed a makeover. The amenities are dated—such as the tiny portable fan used to dry my polish.

Bottom line: This is a popular spot for pedicures—there are 15 stations. Maybe my expectations were too high: For $70, twice the price of many spa pedicures, I wanted twice the treatment. I didn’t get it.

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, 5225 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 202-362-9890;

—Sherri Dalphonse

• • • • • • •

Good E-Mail Specials: Fountains Day Spa

Treatment we had: Brazilian bikini wax, $65.

What we loved: This Old Town spa, in a refurbished yellow-lemon row house, has a cozy atmosphere you can’t help but love. Comfortable chairs in the waiting area are a nice spot to sip a cup of tea—in ceramic mugs with saucers—or cucumber-infused water before a treatment.

In previous reviews of this spa done by The Washingtonian, the facials here were highly recommended. Owner Suzanne Olsen is an expert with skin.

But this spa does more than facials. I had booked a Brazilian—the true test of any waxer’s skills. While it wasn’t the most pain-free I’ve had, Angela Hall, my technician, used a mix of hard and soft wax to remove as much hair as possible. After waxing, she did a thorough tweezing of stray hairs—something many aestheticians overlook.

What you should know: The waxing wasn’t perfect. Twice, I had to remind Angela that the wax was too hot and nearly burning my skin. It’s something that a few more years of experience may cure—she admitted to having worked as an aesthetician for only two years. But after the treatment, she met me outside the room with a glass of cool water, something rarely done when just having waxing.

Bottom line: For those who live in the area, this is a friendly spa for a facial, massage, or underarm or leg waxing. The best part? Daily e-mail specials—you can sign up at the front desk—offer 15 to 25 percent off a variety of treatments.

Fountains Day Spa, 422 South Washington St., Alexandria; 703-549-1990;

—McLean Robbins

• • • • • • •

Great Foot Massage: The Still Point

Treatment we had: Still Waters Run Deep foot massage and scrub, $70.

What we liked: Aesthetician Adua Falwell placed my feet in a small barrel of hot epsom-salt water, then left me for a few minutes with a warm neck pillow, a warm scented eye pillow, and a drop of lavender oil on my palms. The friendly Falwell then scrubbed my calves and heels with a sugar scrub and gently pressed and kneaded my soles. A choice of herbal tea or water added to the relaxing, hourlong treatment. (Free wine is offered in the evening.)

What you should know: Don’t shave your legs for a few days beforehand or you’ll remember why it hurts to rub salt in a wound. You check in and wait downstairs, then are escorted out and around the building to climb the stairs to the second floor. The blue walls and skyline view are calming but not at all slick; after all, this is earthy Takoma Park. If you leave a message asking for an appointment, you may not hear back for hours.

Bottom line: I left feeling as if I were walking on clouds—even after trudging around again to pay. We also hear that massages by Fanny are terrific.

The Still Point, 7009 Carroll Ave., lower level, Takoma Park; 301-920-0801;

—Ellen Ryan

• • • • • • •

Great Day Trip—and Best Spa Food: Le Papillon Day Resor


Treatment we had: One-hour deep-tissue massage, $95.

What we liked: In sleepy Winchester lies a hidden gem—Le Papillon Day Resort, a salon and spa that understands the meaning of a day spa. After being greeted by a friendly receptionist, I was led on a tour of the spa—which includes three pedicure chairs with special hygienic drainage systems.

I was escorted to the third level—a roof garden, open in warm weather, occupies the top floor—where there are men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam saunas and thoughtful amenities such as toothbrushes, razors, flatirons, and shower caps.

My wait was brief in the green meditation room—which had tea, water, snacks, current magazines, and iPods—before being called in for my appointment with Theresa, who the receptionist had assured me was the best therapist for a deep-tissue massage.

After a brief consultation, she began. Her strokes were nice and firm—she obviously knew what she was doing. An hour later, Theresa Lesperance showed me several stretches that I could practice at home to help relieve chronic shoulder tension.

What you should know: After steaming and changing, I headed downstairs to the spa’s restaurant—basically an oversize kitchen with a big table—for a four-course lunch, just $25 including wine pairings. Dishes on the changing menu have included seared sea scallops, house-made pasta with spicy tomato sauce, carrot-ginger soup, and chai-infused crème brûlée.

Bottom line: A day spa that lives up its name—I’d be happy spending a day there.

Le Papillon Day Resort, 650 Cedar Creek Grade, Suite 100, Winchester; 540-722-0722;

—McLean Robbins


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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 05/01/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles