14 NOV 2017: November is the month I dread most. Darkness reigns for the morning wake-up and again at 5pm. The leaves have fallen and before winter snow blankets the ground and adorns the tree it is an ugly, colourless landscape. People start bundling up in extra layers. Moods change with the thought of a long winter ahead. Restaurants and cafes close up their outdoor dining and sitting areas. If there ever is a time of year for a spa respite it’s this time. But why go for just the standard Swedish massage or hot stone treatment? Get adventurous, step outside your comfort zone and into some wacky and weird spa treatments from blood facials and beer baths to marijuana massages.  


I don’t take my wellness cues from celebrity icon Kim Kardashian but she is just one of the many celebrities and just people with extra cash who have indulged in Vampire Facials (also known as a blood facial). Why? To keep that face glowing and fresh looking for the paparazzi. The practitioner draws blood and isolates the growth factors from it and then uses the platelet rich plasma (PRP) with a sterile micro needle on the patient’s face. Collagen (which enhances the skin) is stimulated by the PRP which creates a glowing healthier look. It is also helpful in reducing fine lines, acne and sun burnt skin. Many spas especially in the United States offer this treatment. It’s not cheap – some spas charge $1,000 or more for the less than one hour treatment.


Leeches (and we’re not talking about politicians) have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient Egyptian times. They have been used in treatment for nervous system ailments, dental issues, skin diseases, varicose veins and infections. Leech therapy has gained in popularity in recent years. Actress Demi Moore who has had leech therapy done is a big fan. Today leech therapy is used often in cosmetic surgery and also as a way of detoxing. With their jaws and tiny rows of teeth, leeches secrete peptides and proteins (also known as anticoagulants) through their saliva. Leeches are applied to specific areas and extract blood for 20 to 45 minutes. The secretions help wounds to heal and reduce effects of arthritis and due to their limited side effects, more doctors are using leeches for a variety of treatments. Who thought bloodsucking leeches can be so useful in medical and spa therapies?


Now this is a spa treatment I heartily endorse. I always knew beer wasn’t just good for drinking but for your body and skin as well. At the Chodovar Spa in Prague, indulge in a traditional and therapeutic Real Beer Bath. Chodovar has a rich and long tradition of beer making in The Czech Republic. Relax in a tub (at 34 Celsius) full of active beer yeast, hop draff and a mix of dehydrated crush herbs.

It’s topped off with caramel coloured beer foam and the intoxicating scent of freshly brewed dark beer. The beer bath opens up skin pores while purifying and removing old skin cells. It also provides new proteins and Vitamin B to soften and regenerate the skin. Of course, what better way to enhance your beer bath than a glass of Chodovar brew. Cheers to beer baths!


If you think it’s cold outside wait until you come inside for “The Super Cold Treatment” offered at the Hotel Haikko Manor and Spa in Finland. Enter the minus 120 degree Celsius chamber for anywhere from one minute to three minutes. You won’t be donning a snowsuit – your attire is an all season affair. Bathing suit, headgear to protect your ears, mittens, socks and shoes (no open toe). The extreme cold helps alleviate pain and is especially useful for rheumatism and sleeping disorders. If you are able to withstand the cold chamber for the duration they even give you a certificate. You’ll never complain about the cold again after you’ve been in this cryotherapy chamber.


Kerokan which was developed and popularized in Indonesia is gaining favour in many other parts of the world as well. Kerokan is basically skin scraping – not the most pleasant sounding experience and the visual effects are not that appealing either resulting in long streaks of redness and welts on the skin. A coin shaped material which could be made of jade, marble or ginger is scraped vigorously and continuously along the back, neck and upper arms. Ceramic spoons and even buffalo horns are used in other cultures. Indonesians believe this is an effective method of curing colds by stimulating the immune system through increased blood flow. Olive oil or coconut oil is sometimes substituted which would be a little less painful. Don’t blow your cold away – scrape it away.


The Mile High city of Denver is now offering Mile High Marijuana Massages. You can get cannabis infused massage treatments in Denver as well in other select locations across the state. Now before you say, “I can’t wait to get high and massaged while doing it” read this: Active THC and CBD (cannabinoid) are used in the marijuana massage but they do not enter the bloodstream. So you will not get high but apparently these chemicals result in the person feeling more relaxed and if they had pain it has lessened. With legalized marijuana coming to Canada next summer expect this to be offered at spas in Canada as well. Even Whoopi Goldberg has a medical cannabis bath soak called Whoopi & Maya available in the US which is supposed to provide relief from menstrual pain as well as aid in relaxation.

Escape the November doldrums and try something new at the spa. Many spas have seasonal and innovative signature treatments so treat yourself and reach a totally new level of wellness.



Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

Read more from Chris Ryall

comments powered by Disqus