TREATING YOU RIGHT: RITZ-CARLTON DAY SPA
1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean; 703-506-4300.
Treatment we had: 50-minute stone therapy massage, $150.
What we loved: It’s all about first-class service here. When I asked one of the hotel’s uniformed doormen where the spa was, he rode the elevator with me and walked me to the entrance. Outside the sauna there was a bowl of hand towels, chilled in ice and scented with cucumber slices, for customers to place over their eyes.
My massage therapist, Marc Prickett, used both his hands and hot stones to melt away tension. Before the full-body massage was done, Marc asked, “Were there any spots I missed?” He spent extra time working on the stubborn knots that line my shoulder blades, then greeted me outside the door with a glass of chilled ice water.
Bottom line: Luxurious amenities—a gym, a sauna, a steam room, a heated pool, marble showers, and plush bathrobes—make this spa worth the price. Come a few hours early and make a day of it.
GOOD FOR ATHLETES: EQUINOX
8065 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 703-790-6193
Treatment we had: 50-minute Swedish massage, $110.
What we loved: Equinox is a gym first and a spa second. The top-of-the-line facility includes a lap pool, Pilates and yoga studios, a steam room, and an army of cardio machines, all of which spa-goers are encouraged to use. Don’t expect the frills of a Ritz—I wasn’t offered robes or slippers, and I was asked to change in the treatment room—but the massages are executed with equal skill.
My therapist, Yulia Zolotayko, asked about my workout regimen and sorest muscles before beginning. After I told her I was training for a half marathon, she spent extra time on my feet, quads, and calves. She sent me home with brochures on simple stretches to do at my desk to help alleviate back pain and improve posture.
Bottom line: This is a good spa for athletes looking to work out kinks and improve performance. Check the class schedule before you book, and build in time beforehand for a thighs-and-glutes-busting Skinny Jeans Workout or one of the 70 other group classes offered.
MEN'S RETREAT: GROOMING LOUNGE
1732-U International Dr., McLean; 703-288-0355
Treatment we had: 90-minute Super Stoner massage, $150.
What we loved: The men-only Grooming Lounge is a guy’s-guy place, and it’s neither informal nor stuffy. While waiting for your treatment, you can relax in leather seats and enjoy a coffee or ice water. I got a hot-stone massage, which is less intense than a Swedish or sports massage but is also more relaxing. I drifted away as my therapist, Lauren Lyons, gave my back a thorough rubdown and then massaged individual muscles while palming heated, flat rocks. She also offered helpful tips for avoiding muscle tension and back pain.
Bottom line: Clubby touches such as flat-screen TVs and leather couches make men feel at home here. A hot-stone massage is a good—but pricier—pick for someone who doesn’t want the intensity of a sports massage.
EXPERT FACIAL: THE SPA AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
2501 International Dr., McLean; 703-269-1388
Treatment we had: 60-minute custom facial, $93.
What we loved: While a cadre of hairstylists in the front-room salon make this operation feel a bit frantic, the hushed spa in back—part of the national chain Halcyon Days Salons & Spas, with more than 40 locations—is instantly relaxing. After assessing my skin, aesthetician Yvette Zarookian tailored her recommendations—including a deep-cleaning lactic peel ($54)—to my trouble spots. Throughout the facial, she told me what was coming next and how it would feel: The lactic peel would be slightly itchy; the lancet for extractions would feel like a pinprick. Afterward, she prescribed a daily cleansing ritual and suggested SkinCeuticals products from among the brands sold there. Within a week, my blemishes cleared up.
Bottom line: Given the spa’s emphasis on all-natural products, the prices here are relatively inexpensive and make up for the minor shortcomings: small changing quarters and a hectic feeling up front.
Emily Leaman, Mary Clare Glover, Shane Harris, and Kate Nerenberg contributed to this article, which first appeared in the January 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.