A Guide to Spa Week DC

By: McLean Robbins

Spa Week runs through October 18, and there are lots of venues and treatments to choose from, so newbie and regular spagoers are probably wondering where they’ll get the best bang for their buck. So we developed a handy guide for the novice (Spa Week 101), a refresher for the occasional spagoer (Spa Week 201), and a suggestions list (Spa Week 301) for the regular. Any way you look at it, you’re sure to find some much-needed relaxation.

SPA WEEK 101

What’s Spa Week?
Twice a year, Spa Week hits cities across the country. For one week—and sometimes longer—spas discount three treatments to $50 each.

How do I participate?
It’s free—you just have to register on SpaWeek.com. You’ll get some e-mail reminders, and it’s fairly simple to opt out at any time.

What spas participate?
The list changes every year, but more than 50 spas in DC, Maryland, and Virginia join each season.

What treatments are available?
Everything from manicure/pedicures to waxing to facials and massages. Most treatments are 45 to 50 minutes, but some are up to two hours. Some spas offer their most popular options, such as Swedish or deep-tissue massage, while other spas offer abbreviated versions or Spa Week specials such as body scrubs and express facials.

How do I book?
You can find all of the treatments online, but call the spas directly to book.

What if they’re full?
Many spas, particularly the more popular locations, have limited availability. Ask to be put on a cancellation list, and try less popular times—weekday evenings and afternoons or early morning. Avoid weekends if possible.

Is it only one week?
Technically, yes. But due to the slumping economy, many spas have extended the deal into the next week or even all month. Ask when booking to determine which spas have extra availability.

Are the treatments worth it?
Most are—calculate the cost savings and you’ll see that many of the treatments are half off or more from the regular price. Check the “Spa Week 301” section below for reviews on particular locations and our special suggestions.

How do I pay?
You pay as you normally would, but some spas request a credit card to hold your appointment. Check with the individual location to see if it accepts gift cards during Spa Week—some don’t. Remember that even though you’re getting a discount, the therapist is still performing a full treatment. If the treatment you’re receiving is on the regular menu, it’s still customary to tip on the full price of the service, not the discounted rate. Twenty percent is standard for great service, and 15 percent is fine for adequate treatment. If the service isn’t on the regular menu, tip on the $50 price, usually $10 to $25, depending on the length of service.

SPA WEEK 201

You hit the spa on special occasions but don’t usually splurge. Want to know how to navigate the maze of offerings? We’re breaking it down for you.

For occasional spagoers, this is a great time to try a new service. If you always get the same manicure/pedicure, upgrade to a luxe version with a paraffin dip. Looking to primp for a special occasion? Try a Brazilian wax—it’s usually about $20 more than the spa week price. Massage lovers can stick with the Swedish or deep-tissue variety but should branch out to try a new type—hot stone, Thai, or reflexology can be particularly enjoyable. For those new to massage, try a body scrub or a facial—you’ll ease into the idea of being unclothed or touched and still experience a tangible result, be it smoother skin or a cleansed face. Note: Don’t book a facial the day of a big event—some people experience residual redness based on their skin type or a specific kind of facial.

If you like Swedish massage, try Thai or Lomi Lomi.
While we haven’t personally tried the Canary Orchid Retreat (200 Little Falls St., Suite 301, Falls Church; 703-531-0788), we’re itching to book the 60-minute Lomi Lomi massage, a Hawaiian version that uses long, smoothing strokes. We’ve had the treatment at several spas and loved the way the therapists used their whole body to make sure ours felt like butter.

You may also like Thai massage, a yoga-like blend of massage and light stretching done fully clothed on a bamboo mat. Chaan Thai Yoga Massage (8300 Arlington Blvd., Suite C3, Fairfax; 703-846-8228) is offering the service.

If you like pedicures, try the Mandarin Oriental or anything promising a treatment of more than 90 minutes.

Long known as one of the most luxe spas in the world, the Mandarin Oriental (1330 Maryland Ave., SW; 202-787-6100) is joining Spa Week DC for the first time. After your 50-minute treatment is over, head to the waterfall showers or sauna.

And really, how bad can a pedicure be? Anything more than 90 minutes is bound to give you your money’s worth in foot-rubbing time. Consider these options:

Destiny De’ve Salon & Spa (3343 14th St. NW; 202-234-3383) offers a 90-minute manicure/pedicure with a green-tea, pomegranate, or sugar scrub.

Samsara (7606 Main St., Sykesville; 410-552-6900) offers a 120-minute Pumpkin Spice pedicure with a paraffin manicure.

The Salon and Spa at Saks Fifth Avenue (2051 International Dr., McLean; 703-269-1388) offers a 90-minute paraffin manicure and peppermint pedicure.

If you’re looking to get a facial, try anything at Ted Gibson & Hela Spa (5481 Wisconsin Ave., Level 2, Chevy Chase; 301-951-4445), one of Washington’s best spas for facial work. The Greta Garbo facial isn’t the most luxe on the extensive menu, but the treatment is a great refresher and includes T-zone extractions.

SPA WEEK 301

If you never miss your monthly massage and know your favorite therapist’s home phone number, Spa Week might not be your scene. The spas are often crowded, and appointments are hard to book. Particularly for those individuals who love to linger, Spa Week often feels like amateur hour.

But, like its foodie cousin—Restaurant Week—sometimes a new spa or an old favorite will shine. Use this chance to book at a ritzy location you otherwise wouldn’t splurge on, or visit that neighborhood hole-in-the-wall you’ve walked by but never tried. Here we’ve tried to highlight under-the-radar favorites that you may not have discovered—and will perhaps love as your new first choice.

Bella Donna (7025 Manchester Blvd., Suite H, Alexandria; 703-313-7945) Yes, it’s in a strip mall, but the service has always been top-notch and the therapists go out of their way to make your experience pleasurable. Mary, the owner, will walk you through the menu and help you choose a treatment that works for you.

Salon Roi (2602 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-234-2668) This longtime neighborhood spa and salon is known for its giant painting of Marilyn Monroe on the side of the building, but the treatments during Spa Week are reliably good. Enjoy a massage or a facial and complimentary treats such as sweets and coffee.

Progressions Salon Spa Store (12211 Nebel St., Rockville; 301-231-8757) It’s as much of a salon as it is a spa, but combine your regular haircut with a massage or facial for a truly pampering experience.

Roxsan Day Spa (11301 Rockville Pike, Bethesda; 301-881-7505)
Don’t mind the fact that it’s in a mall—Roxsan allows for a small oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of White Flint.

Parma Spa and Wellness Center (8212 Old Courthouse Rd., McLean; 703-506-8401) This quiet spa is tucked across the street from Tysons Corner Center in an office park. Enjoy unique treatments with Indian and Asian influences plus some of the best facials we’ve ever experienced.

Spa Noa (11638 Plaza America Dr., Reston; 703-318-3223) We like this spa—voted one of The Washingtonian’s best—for a massage or facial.

Massage Envy (multiple locations) Although this spa isn’t on the Spa Week list, it offers similar pricing ($49 to $59 for a 50-minute massage) all year to first-time clients. We were skeptical of their mass-produced therapies until we experienced one at the Arlington location several weeks ago. The therapists—matched to each client through an initial phone consultation—are experienced and knowledgeable. Plus, the hours (8 AM to 10 PM on weekdays) and seven-days-a-week availability make it easy to schedule an appointment.

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