If Coney Island had a spa, it would look like Vitality Spa on San Francisco’s Pier 39. It’s a wild ride of experiential spa gadgets that will tickle your funny bone from head to toe.
Having not been to San Francisco in a while, it was a real treat to reacquaint myself with its picturesque neighborhoods, discover what’s new, and be a tourist without the pressure of feeling that I needed to see everything during my visit. But nothing prepared me for Vitality Spa on Pier 39.
Over the years Pier 39 has evolved into a touristy destination of shops, boutiques and outdoor entertainment – a gentrified and laid-back Coney Island of sorts. So finding a spa here seemed so anomalous that I couldn’t resist stepping across its threshold. From then on, the entire experience was a laugh a minute.
Oxygenate & Rejuvenate
First up was the oxygen bar where you could breathe in a choice of flavorful scents that ranged from watermelon and peppermint to pina colada and strawberry daiquiri. Since oxygen sharpens your mind and certainly dissolves any residue hangover you may have acquired from real daiquiris, the line up for nostril pumps was fast moving.
Beautiful sales people are attentive, and will offer (but not push) all manner of experiential products. As you breathe in cinnamon scents, they might help you distress with a warmed shoulder cushion, filled with flaxseed, warmed and draped over tense muscles. Or you might be offered a head massage with a spindly 12-pronged gadget that reminded me of a multi-legged crane fly. With its flashing lights, it was difficult to take seriously but impressions aside; it was an amazingly effective treatment. Another ‘don’t knock-it-‘til-you-try-it deal is the computerized massager. It size, design and controls look more like an iPod or digital recorder, this piece of wizardry uses tiny electrical currents to massage your muscles via small sticky patches that are placed on your skin. On your shoulders. Against your shins. Stroking your face. And any set of muscles in need of a knead. Retailing for less than $200, this pocket devices would be super travel companions, especially on long-haul flights.
A Dry Water Massage!<b/>
For me, the biggest giggle was slipping into one of Vitality’s water therapy cylinders. They reminded me of a sunbed, only here, you lie fully clothed (no shoes) on a bed and when the lid is closed, you are completely enclosed except for your head which sticks out with enough room to manouvre your arms out too if you wished. The cylinder lid is made up of a thick waterproof membrane which separates you from many gallons of warm water and press a few buttons and hey presto, the treatment begins. This animated waterbed swings into action with waves of pummelling jets marching up and down your body. Press a button, and the wave will hover a while – when you’ve been sitting for a while; this was buttocks heaven; press another button and the pressure shifts. Get past the novelty and laughter, and again, Vitality’s offering is truly therapeutic. And surprisingly, very relaxing.
This is, of course, the whole idea behind this wild ride of a spa. Get people engaged and they open up to all sort of possibilities.
My Last Word:
The craziest, most fun spa experience I’ve ever had. No pretensions. A ton of laughter. And a staff that knows its wellness stuff – just in case you were wondering.
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