High flier Karen Zuckerman has a secret weapon for avoiding the air terminal blues: treating herself to a facial or massage while waiting to board her plane. No, Zuckerman doesn't travel with a beauty entourage. She's just one of many travelers taking advantage of the proliferation of airport spas around the world.
President of Maryland-based marketing and advertising agency HZDG, Zuckerman often visits high-end beauty temples like the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and Canyon Ranch. While none of these luxurious spas have opened airport outposts (yet), plenty of other brands are helping make flying a whole lot more Zen these days.
"An airport spa gives me the ability to multitask and do a little something for myself," explains Zuckerman, who travels about 30 times per year for work within the U.S. and Europe. Depending on what's available, she'll book a facial, massage or quick mani-pedi at whatever terminal she finds herself in. "When I'm really stressed and can sneak in a 20-minute neck or back massage, that's a huge bonus," she says.
Sunny Kortz of OraOxygen -- whose spas in the Calgary International and Detroit airports attract travelers, airport employees and the odd civilian (the Calgary branch is located pre-security) -- reports that many clients come for combined oxygen/massage treatments. "The oxygen refreshes your body and mind after a long plane trip," she says. "When used together with a massage treatment, people can go energized to that business meeting or trip with the kids."
Whether you're stuck in transit, quailing at the prospect of boarding a long-haul flight or just whiling away the hours between check-in and takeoff, there are now countless ways to relieve the tension, stress and ennui of traveling before you've even taken off. Check out our list of terminally fabulous airport spas, from Calgary to Dubai, and prepare to give travel-induced stress a send-off.
Emirates -- the first carrier to offer in-flight showers to first-class passengers -- has also brought luxury pampering to its terrestrial hub in Dubai. Three Timeless Spas are located at the airport's Terminal 3: one in the Emirates First Class Lounge, a second in the Business Lounge and a third at the Dubai International Airport Hotel. Both lounge spas offer express services like half-back massages, mini-manicures, reflexology and basic hairstyling (including blow-dry, trimming and beard-shaving) at no cost; for those with more time to spare, the Timeless Spa at the Airport Hotel offers full-body massages, body wraps and anti-aging facial treatments.
The airport outpost of Canada's most luxurious hotel chain has a spa offering an array of jet set-friendly treatments -- among them a Pink Grapefruit Jet Lag recovery body wrap and a special massage to reduce foot and leg swelling. All guests (including day visitors) also have access to the spa's mechanized lap pool, sauna and fitness center -- and can indulge in longer, more luxurious treatments, like a Moor Mud bath, Academy Award face and body spray-tan application or Lomi-Lomi massage to soothe away those travel-induced kinks.
Set in Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport, d_parture Spa has been created with green principles in mind, using sustainable materials like reclaimed glass, bamboo flooring and eco-friendly products. On the menu are signature treatments designed to quickly lull travelers into a state of serenity, like the pressure point-focused Scalp and Eye Massage that helps relieve sinuses, the Altitude Protection Facial that hydrates and protects skin from air-pressure changes and the half-hour Fly Away Mini Facial.
First and Club World British Airways travelers can partake in quick -- and complimentary -- treatments at the Elemis Travel Spas located in Heathrow's Terminals 3 and 5. The spas, designed to provide intensive, targeted treatments in a short amount of time, offer a menu of 15-minute prescriptions for passengers, including facials that target concerns like dehydration and skin clogging, the Musclease Leg and Foot Workout and a Stress-Away shoulder and scalp massage.
This airport spa provides travelers with what will surely be their only in-transit opportunity to have a full-body aqua massage (while remaining fully clothed). The Back to Life Aqua treatment invites clients to recline in a space age-inspired, podlike contraption, where 36 pulsating water jets -- separated from their clients' bodies by a microfiber film -- simulate traditional hands-on massage. The spa also offers more mainstream stress-busters, like 20-minute chair massages, reflexology foot massages and an oxygen bar that combines 15-minute-long O2 boosts with aromatherapy.
Qantas's much-ballyhooed Marc Newson-designed lounges at the Sydney and Melbourne airports are havens of tranquility for the airline's business and first class customers -- but their spas are where the magic really happens. These oases of Nordic-inspired serenity, which feature flowering vertical gardens, blonde wood furnishings and shower suites stocked with Kevin Murphy products, also offer 20-, 30- and 50-minute complimentary services that range from eye-firming treatments to full-body massages and intensive hydrating facials.
Hong Kong International Airport, Regal Airport Hotel
Catering to both overnight hotel guests and travelers with time to kill, this full-service spa employs a soothing décor of bamboo screens, Thai silk cushions and fresh flowers all of which feel a world away from the bustle of Hong Kong's airport. The menu of services here includes everything from tamarind body scrubs (ideal for dry skin) to Sabai hot stone massages to jasmine milk baths. For $20, nonguests can have access to the hotel's gym, steam room and 72-foot outdoor pool, surrounded by massage cabanas.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Part of a rapidly growing chain (which includes branches at several U.S. airports and Amsterdam's Schiphol), this spa has six separate locations at New York's main international air hub. As well as offering manicures, facials and massages in layover-friendly sessions, several of the spas dole out longer treatments like hour-long, deep-moisturizing seaweed facials and 90-minute full-body massages. Frequent spa fliers can get a Rewards Club card for discounted services at all XpresSpa locations.
Calgary International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
To combat the particular malaise that comes from breathing pressurized, recycled cabin air, OraOxygen's two spas (there are plans to open more in the U.S., Canada and Asia) offer refreshing boosts of oxygen alongside their menu of facials, nail services and massage treatments. The most popular treatment at both of the modern, light-filled spas is the 60-minute full-body massage combined with a 15-minute oxygen session—truly a breath of fresh air. ora-oxygen.com
A sanctuary within a sanctuary, this spacious spa in Terminal 2 of Singapore's spotlessly clean, user-friendly airport offers quick fixes for tired travelers (like showers and half-hour foot reflexology sessions). It also, however, provides an exotic menu of longer, full-body treatments, including Tui Na, and Balinese and Javanese massage.