Orlando Spas: Escape from the Theme Parks
By Jennie Hess
Tis the season . . . the theme-park season, that is. If you hit the ground running at Walt Disney World, Universal, or SeaWorld, eventually you will need a break. When the time comes, head to one of Orlando's resort spas, all of which are indulgent enough to please any theme-park-weary parent, aching golfer, parched sunbather, or Disney princess—regardless of budget.
Several spas draw on Florida's citrus-producing region to offer refreshing orange, grapefruit, and lime therapies. Or you can go global with massage techniques from Japan, Thailand, Polynesia, and Sweden. And, families who want to stay together can spa together: many spas offer treatments just for men and/or youth facials, massages, and mani/pedi packages.
Best for Adults Who Want to Splurge
Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain. Do not try to pour your own tea—your gracious valet is there to serve and make you comfortable. Spa slippers aren't one-size-fits many—they're sized to fit you. Instead of fancy therapies, the Guerlain treatments on the spa menu are kept simple so that therapists can focus on customizing them to meet your needs.
The extraordinary Exceptional Orchidée Impériale Treatment facial (2 hours, $420) babies your face with two therapies to detoxify and invigorate, two masks targeted to your needs, and a custom eye contour treatment. Meanwhile, your hands are pampered with warm paraffin and wrapped in mitts to soften them, and your tootsies and calves are massaged and moisturized to the max. Men should try the Firming Abdomen Treatment or a facial.
Note that this spa is a splurge, with treatments starting at $55 (for a manicure) and going as high as $540.
Best for the Whole Family
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. If you want to feel like a million dollars, cash in on the spa's exclusive Aurum Manus (Hands of Gold) therapy so you can be massaged with warmed organic oils and smooth, semiprecious stone spheres like jade, crystal, and sodalite (50 minutes, $150; 80 minutes, $205). This holistic treatment is a real stress reliever as it stimulates vital points of the body's energy meridians.
There's a couples treatment room, a men's facial, and a menu of "first" facials and massages for kids ages 4–12 (though youths aged 13–17 can also receive spa treatments if accompanied by an adult). This spa falls somewhere in the middle in terms of pricing, with treatments running from $55 to $375.
Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. Prepare to be wowed as you enter this lavish, grand-palazzo-style spa—Orlando's largest with 40 treatment rooms. Go for the two-hour Relax Body Ritual ($330), a signature organic treatment package using products made from fruits like cranberry and pomegranate. A therapist treats you to a full-body smoothing exfoliation, a hydrating body wrap (catnap optional), massage, and a hydrotherapy soak—you control the jets to suit your mood.
Men are pampered with special facials, massages, and pedicures. But the Ritz also caters to kids with its Princess Fizzing mani/pedi (ages 2–10) and its teen facials (14–17). Prices for treatments range from $35 to $350.
Best for Those on a Budget
Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa. The atmosphere is intimate, and the prices are as reasonable ($50–$200) as you'll find at a resort spa. Settle back for the signature Royal Velvet Sugar Scrub, featuring mango-ginger sugar crystals and moisturizing mango body butter (80 minutes, $175). While you're at it, treat those tired gams to the add-on Theme Park Leg Relief Wrap (25 minutes, $75).
There are also men's facials and massages, facials, and body treatments for children 11–16 if accompanied by an adult. Girlfriend gatherings with martinis and canapés by the secluded outdoor pool are a hit.
Mandara Spa. The signature Four Hand Massage (50 minutes, $240), at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, delivers a blend of shiatsu, Hawaiian lomi lomi, Swedish, Thai, and Balinese massage. The Balinese Body Polish with Massage features a fragrance choice of coffee, lime and ginger, or Balinese boreh made from spices like clove, ginger, and nutmeg (50 minutes, $130; 75 minutes, $190). To make your experience head to toe, add on the Frangipani Nourishing Hair & Scalp Treatment ($30).
There are massages and facials geared to men and mani/pedis, facials, and massages for children 8 and up with adult companion. There's also a Mandara Spa in the Loew's Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal. Prices at both are roughly $35 to $255.
The Spa at Shingle Creek. The Calusa Cocoon (50 minutes, $120) begins with a skin-silkening apricot scrub. Next, your therapist massages a blend of essential oils like lavender and ylang ylang into your skin before wrapping you like a papoose in a foil-like blanket. A scalp massage completes the blissful experience.
The signature Creekside Citrus and Cedar Massage (50 minutes, $130; 80 minutes, $175) invigorates with white-cedar, spruce, and lime oils and a body and scalp massage. The menu includes a gentleman's facial and youth facials and mani/pedis. Prices range from $35 to $225.
Photo Credits: Rosen Shingle Creek, Troy House
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I echo your recommendation of the spa at Disney's Grand Floridian. I'm a spa junkie and had one of my best experiences there -- the treatment was bliss and the staff could not have been more welcoming and attentive. I can't wait to try your other recommendations on future Orlando trips!