Spa Vs. Spa

Did you know that ‘spa’ is an acronym for  ‘self-indulgent pretentious ass-wipe’?

spy vs spyIf you didn’t, you should read this column more often, because that’s the kind of arcane crap you are always learning around here.

Anyway, if the word ‘spa’ makes me simultaneously chuckle and shudder, can you imagine what words like ‘exfoliation’, ‘masque’ and ‘full body polish’ do?

By the way, when you chuckle and shudder simultaneously, you ‘chudder’.  See, again you learn something.

cucumberWhen I think of the archetypal spa-goer, I imagine someone with a narcissistic complex so out of control that they see nothing bizarre about pampering themselves with therapeutics that are almost tribal in their oddness: For example, having all the skin cells scraped from one’s epidermis; having one’s entire body rubbed down with sea salt, sugar and coffee; allowing one’s face to be covered in mud while wearing cucumbers over the eyes.


And all this while little children are going to bed hungry in Gary, Indiana.

But then, when you think about it, me drinking nineteen bottles of wine in two days, then missing work is sort of self-pampering too, isn’t it?  And allowing one’s liver to disintegrate while murdering brain cells and courting stomach cancer?  How tribal is that?  And all the while, little children are going to bed sober in Gary, Indiana.

Yours truly in Hazelton formal wear

Yours truly in Hazelton formal wear

So, when I received a press release entitled Spas Have Alcohol-Related Treatments on Tap, I naturally assumed it was a sort of combination Château Élan Spa and Hazelton Rehab Center where they massage you through your detoxification treatment.

And I was intrigued, because usually those kind of places have you scrubbing out toilets in a strait jacket and going to idiotic group therapy sessions where you nod sympathetically at the horror stories of others while secretly chuddering, ‘Wow; a bigger loser than me.’

But Then I Read Further, and Brother, Could I Have Been Wronger…?

Turns out that the release was about a new tribalish trend in the spa-o-sphere wherein alcoholic beverages are included in the therapy itself—externally, not internally.

Poor Allie

Poor Allie

According to Allie Hembree, Public Relations Manager for the International SPA Association, “By incorporating different types of spirits into their treatments, spas around the world are allowing you to still indulge, but save the calories for another day…”

Poor Allie wrote me a very nice letter asking me if the subject might interest me, which it did, but not quite in the way she intended.  Poor Allie now thinks of me sort of like the town of Columbine thinks of Dylan Klibold.

Anyway, if the entire concept is still a little foggy to you, nineteen bottles of wine should clarify things.  Too over the top?  Bloody lightweight…

Alright, then: Here are a handful of cuts from various spas summarizing their new, therapeutic and creative approach to wasting perfectly good grog:

The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, PA: Partnering with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, the Royal Revival includes a body exfoliation using hops, barley and honey followed by a beer bath.

Clipboard dogSomehow, I can’t look at ‘body exfoliation’ without thinking ‘body exhumation’.  And I can’t look at ‘Dogfish Head’ without thinking about, well, dogfish heads. And for that matter, I can’t think of having honey rubbed on my body without imagining that ancient Persian torture where they covered the victim in honey and allowed ants and flies to eat him alive.

But, that’s just me.

Nina Kaczorowski’s breasts

Nina Kaczorowski’s breasts

The Spa at Griffin Gate, Lexington, KY: The Bourbon Bubbler starts with a full body polish incorporating Kentucky Bourbon, ginger, and pecans and finishes with a rinse and an application of Shea butter.

Not only that but I can’t look at ‘body polish’ without thinking of Nina Kaczorowski’s breasts.  Or shea butter without thinking about black people hawking chunks of it on the bridge overpass in Downtown Detroit’s Eastern Market.  I bought some once and put it on toast.  Big mistake.

Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel, Praha, Czech Republic: The St. Thomas Beer Ritual utilizes a bit of history by incorporating a secret Augustinian monk beer exfoliation recipe that promotes detoxification and hydration, complete with a massage.

There’s that magic word, detoxification.  I knew it: The buggers are slipping in a little rehab with the massage.

Kelly’s Spa at the Mission Inn, Riverside, CA: The Kelly’s Fountain of Youth Signature Body Treatment refreshes your skin with an antioxidant Chardonnay wine bubble bath, and a Chardonnay wine grape seed body polish. The experience is complete with a massage and paraffin treatment.

Unoaked, okay.  Barrel fermented, cool.  But  what in the world is an antioxidant chardonnay?  And I don’t even want to go down the paraffin treatment thought association, because I am sure it involves pouring hot wax on the most sensitive areas of the body.  I’m paying how much for this again?

Château Élan

Château Élan

Château Élan, Braselton, GA: The Château Winery Ritual infuses the body with the anti-oxidant power of grape seeds during a wine bath, followed with a body scrub and mud wrap.

Mud wraps are meant to encourage weight loss, but keep in mind that the reason it works is because you perspire away great gobs of water, and—according to the FDA—rapid and excessive fluid loss is dangerous because it can bring on severe dehydration and upset the balance of important electrolytes in the body.

The Spa at Silverado Resort, Napa, CA: The Chardonnay Sugar Scrub blends in Chardonnay, Shea butter and six natural oils to exfoliate and nourish the skin, healing even the driest of skin.

Not sure which ‘natural oils’ are used in Silverado skin nourishing treatments, but here are six that occur to me: Hog sweat, decaying adipose tissue from corpses, crude petroleum, Popeye’s anorexic girlfriend, secretions from pre-orbital glands in musk oxen during mating season and WD-40.

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death

I suppose I sort of rained on the spa parade, huh?  Well, nobody listens to me anyway.  I’m lucky if I can get people to chudder.


If the idea of a booze massage still interests you, here is who you can contact:


Allie Hembree         

Public Relations Manager

International SPA Association


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