LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- Once upon a time in spa-land, the classic day trip included 90 minutes of pampering under the deep pressure or targeted extractions of a massage or facial. But these days, given the popularity of Botox and cosmetic fillers, a number of spas have upgraded their menus to include medical-grade procedures that are now the main attraction of several global destination spas.
In Italy, just outside of Siena, the rolling hills of Tuscany are home to the country's latest 5-star resort, which features a medical-wellness spa. The
Petriolo Spa & Resort
, 50 miles south of Florence, recently undertook a massive refurbishment that included all of its guest rooms and spa area. The hotel itself, a terraced mid-century hotel with tumbled-stone facade and gilded Italian interiors, sits atop a geothermal bed of 109-degree hot springs that feed into an outdoor pool with sulfurous bubbles for pre- and post-spa bathing.
Treatment rooms at the Petriolo Spa overlook a 150-acre wilderness of rolling hills and a pristine horizon dotted with medieval strictures and Tuscan vineyards. There's a Turkish bath, Kneipp hydrotherapy circuit and dry-ice cave. The removed atmosphere seems a perfect backdrop for spa-based medical procedures aimed at health-oriented, rather than cosmetic, results. Custom health screenings are followed by non-evasive laser procedures for vein removal, facial resurfacing and skin rejuvenation by a qualified staff of nurse-estheticians. For 2010, the hotel is having a reopening special aimed at Americans with all reservations priced at parity from euro to U.S. dollar.
, located at the Hotel Royal in France's Evian-les-Bains, the spa revolution is taking an aristocratic approach by marrying old-world procedures with new-world technology. Hovering above the grand town where rich America gets its favored bottled water, this destination spa hotel is rivaled by almost none when it comes to exclusivity and upscale setting. Visitors arrive to an exquisite lobby of arched ceilings and gold-emblazoned furnishings fit for royals and celebrities. Overlooking Lake Geneva and close to the Les Thermes Evian, the hotel is home to a Masters-class golf course and three restaurants in addition to a summer hotel special that gives a 50% discount for solo travelers.
The Spa Evian Source divides its services between "slimming rituals, beauty services and body revelation" that translates to scientifically proven, and a few unproven, contouring wraps, lymphatic drainages and facial procedures blessed with a platinum La Prairie logo. Multi-day packages, not for the cash-restrained, are coupled with yoga classes and dietary supervision that includes daily slimming shakes and plenty of Evian. Favored treatments include firming electrostimuations and the Anne Semonin facial treatment that will have you leaving Evian a younger, fresher and financially slimmed new you.
Anyone looking for a bit more invasiveness should head across the channel to the U.K., where high-end med-spas are currently the trend. Harvey Nichols, the luxury London department store, unveiled
in its Knightsbridge flagship chemical peels, Restylane, Juvederm and collagen stimulations on their fourth floor that now makes it possible to shop with a Botox-chaser without leaving the store. A total of five treatment rooms attempt to foretell the future of the typical department store cosmetics counter with a high-end medical-spa with on-site plastic surgeon and medically trained estheticians. Beyond Spa also offers Velashape, a non-surgical liposuction, yet to take off in America, that heats and dissolves fatty tissue in targeted areas. Prices are on average 20% cheaper than in most U.S. medi-spas, especially with the stronger dollar.
In the U.S., most people associate the Four Seasons with leisurely massages and straightforward facials. But at the
, located a comfortable distance outside L.A. and Hollywood, the on-site spa specializes in med-spa procedures via its
. The spa feels like a European destination spa, but with enough injectables and med services to keep even a Real Housewives cosmetically satiated. Under the supervision of an in-house dermatologist, guests fill their way to beauty with Juvederm injections, IPL facials that utilize lasers to improve skin tone and appearance of sun damage, as well as the regular Botox application.
California Health & Longevity Institute isn't just about beauty. An entire medical arm specializes in sleep therapy, preventative 3T MRI and regular physical exams by on-site doctors who can personalize an otherwise topical spa experience with sometimes revolutionary results. There's also nutritional and lifestyle consultations that can pinpoint a specialized diet or help talk through a current life challenge. Once you're back in the spa, voluminous 28-treatment rooms are accented in onyx with fresh flowers and four VIP suites have their own outdoor whirlpools and private Swiss showers. Additionally, the hotel offers customizable spa packages for around $550 per night that couples daily facials or massage procedures with upgraded room accommodations that are truly a rejuvenating getaway.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.