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Take Five

In a world where futuristic spa treatments push the boundaries of length and complexity, many spas are doubling down on the restorative power of simple physical pleasures — gorgeous vistas, soothing sounds, rich flavors, intoxicating scents and a healing touch — allowing us the chance to return to our senses


Massages at this Antigua resort are for the birds

A funny thing happened when the Galley Bay Resort & Spa filled the once dry lagoon on its property: Flocks of migratory birds suddenly took up residence there. Now, guests splurging on signature treatments (like the 90-minute Swedish massage, $150) in one of the resort’s open-air, treetop massage rooms can doze while listening to the following purveyors of birdsong:

• BANANAQUIT A small black nectar-seeking bird with a yellow breast, white eyebrows and a chibichibi call
• WEST INDIAN WHISTLING DUCK A dark brown, long-necked duck with a distinctive chiriria whistle
• LESSER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH A red-breasted bird that steadily twitters, with the odd tseep-tseep
• MOORHEN A red-billed black bird that floats on the water like a duck, and has a loud curruk call

A meditation treatment that’s worth its salt

Upping the ante on a popular trend, Las Vegas’ Aria offers the Shio Salt Room, which — in addition to featuring mood-lit salt brick walls and subtly salty air (said to detoxify the body and clear up skin and sinus problems) — plunks guests down on zero-gravity loungers that vibrate along with the in-house sound system. Sorry, though: no Jay-Z. (Spa pass, $30)

Didgeridoos are instrumental in one Australian spa’s Aborigine-inspired services

Located an hour south of Brisbane, the spa at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat offers guests a signature two-and-a-half-hour Tribal Dreaming treatment adapted from Aborigine healing traditions. The process includes a forest walk, an ocher clay smudging, an “intention ceremony” and an 80-minute massage, complete with an epic four-hand hot stone massage. The pièce de résistance, however, is “didgeridoo healing.” Late in the treatment, therapist Stephen McInnes uses the tubular, low-frequency instrument to invoke a meditative state that’s known in the indigenous culture as “the dreaming.” The flourish, done at close range so that guests can feel it as well as hear it, was inspired by tribal elders who believed the didgeridoo’s unique drone offered healing powers for the sick and stressed. Best of all, if you fall asleep during the treatment, fear not: The British Medical Journal published a study in 2005 that found playing didgeridoos can alleviate snoring and sleep apnea. Maybe some of that will rub off on you — then not only will you get your rest, you also won’t keep nearby guests from getting theirs. ($395)

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