Waikiki to Buenos Aires: Finding the Best Facial


Canyon Ranch Spa

Steps from a busy world-renowned Waikiki Beach or tucked away from the cacophony of 5th Avenue in Manhattan, you might be surprised to learn that there are serene spas offering rejuvenation to your weary body and ragged spirit. And where does the effect of dry plane air, airline food and jet lag show up first ? Why on your face, of course, so I always try to fit a facial into my travel plans.

This collection of spas offers some of the best facials I have ever had. The facial criteria included product, application, product knowledge, surroundings, skill of the esthetician and total experience.

The Spa at Langham Place, Fifth Avenue, New York City

Billed as “a luxurious retreat from the chaos of the world outside,” it fulfills this promise. The Spa at Langham Place is huge by most NYC standards and includes an Aqua Lounge devoted to the vitality derived from water. Experiential rain showers, a Turkish style Hammam, a heated pool and steam room are all included in your treatment visit. Thalgo, a French company, formulates very pure products, utilizing benefits of many oceanic riches, including silicium, algae, marine collagen and kelp.

The spa is beautiful, tucked into a corner of the sleek Langham Place Hotel. There is a sense of arrival as you walk down the hallway. After being greeted at the desk, you are seated until a staff member takes you back for a tour and a locker to change. The staff and lovely spa director Gaylen Marano are friendly and very attentive, but not overly familiar so you do feel most comfortable. The facial treatment room is beautiful, with sleek details and low-lighting and the esthetician is ready and very calming. Although I booked the Hydra Moisture Facial, she assessed the condition of my travel- weary face and created a custom moisturizing facial. It was suited just for me, using Thalgo Products. After her gentle work on my face, one hour later, I looked in the mirror of the bright, light, dressing room area and I positively glowed. I’d highly recommend for you city types and frequent business travelers.

The Spa at Langham Place

The Spa at Langham Place

Olga’s Day Spa, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Located inside the Snow King Hotel, the little bliss space called Olga’s is directed by Olga Needham, who is considered the premier massage therapist In Jackson Hole. She was an Olympic gymnast , toured the world with the Moscow Circus and settled in Jackson Hole to raise her family. She is known all over the world; it is not unusual for athletes and captains of industry to fly in on private jet for an appointment with her. She is also most discreet.

While developing her technique in her native Russia, Olga worked on a paralyzed Russian soldier, a casualty of their Afghanistan conflict. She says she was able to regenerate movement in his limbs and knew she was on to something. Indeed, her massage is incredible.

But so is the facial here. Karen Smith is the esthetician and when you meet her, you are likely to remark on how radiant her own face is. She will consult with you for a time, examine your skin under magnifying light and let you know what is going on with you and what she can do. She then mixes her magical potions and gets to work. You will immediately notice the results and come away feeling beautiful, with tighter more toned skin. As Karen told me, “I want to let women know that they can improve their skin and look better without Botox and other invasive procedures.”

Call Olga directly at 307-734-2468 to schedule spa services.

 Olga's  at Snow King Resort

Olga’s at Snow King Resort

Canyon Ranch Spa Club at The Venetian and Palazzo, Las Vegas

This Canyon Ranch Spa bridges the buildings of these two large properties. In a way, it also bridges the worlds of normal life and fantasy. You would be surprised at the number of guests heading up there to rejuvenate after partying the Vegas night away or just to re-set their internal clocks. Many a conference or event planner has a standing facial appointment there before they work their events.

A facial here is very relaxing and uses Canyon Ranch’s own label in their Advanced Aesthetics facials. My esthetician was young, but very well-trained. Her touch was light and the results were amazing.

You have access to the huge space that includes whirlpools, rain showers, steam and sauna. The cafe, serving healthy, drinks, salads and spa cuisine is terrific. For those glamorous evenings, book the hairstylist and a make-up artist. I did and loved the facial and make up results so much I had my picture taken for my professional head shots.

Spa at Los Caballeros

Spa at Los Caballeros

The Spa at Los Caballeros, Wickenburg, Arizona

Rancho de los Caballeros is located in the charming cowboy town of Wickenburg in Arizona. This historic ranch features a full service golf club, club house, horse back riding programs, trap shooting, tennis, a pool, nature walks, and comfortable rooms and suites with a full meal program. If you’ve had too much fun in the sun, get thee over to the Spa at Los Caballeros and into the spa for a Customized Signature Facial. Your face will be analyzed, cleansed and exfoliated, and appropriate masks and treatments will be applied.

After winning Los Cab’s team penning event (with my team), I needed to retreat from the sun and the dust. My esthetician, Patricia Hernandez, asked if I was in the mood to talk or rest and she was very aware of my feelings. I was interested in what she was doing during the facial, so she described each step and what she was using and the benefits I might expect.

From what I can recall, she used products from All Image, Ageless and Vital C lines, with the intent to impart maximum hydration to my skin. I remember vividly that I was walking on air when I was finished. The Spa at Los Caballeros also does fantastic body wraps and massage by Lynell Marbach. The vibe around here is, “We are here to help you find your peacefulness and Zen, and hope you lose yourself in the bliss of the Sonoran Desert.” Oh, is that where I left it?

Spa at Faena

Spa at Faena

The Spa at Faena Hotel, Buenos Aires Argentina

My reserves were on empty when I checked in to my fanciful room at the Faena Hotel. I won’t spoil any surprise for you, you must stay here to experience this fantastic hotel for yourself. In need of an oasis, I was directed to The Spa. This spa is more than you have likely come across in your local spa at home. In addition to the lengthy list of treatments, services and massage practices, it features therapists skilled in Pranic healing. They rightfully say they are a spiritual spa. The Spa Director, Agustina Caminos, tells me that they also offer a free Twin Hearts Meditation, a beautiful way of showing people how helping and blessing others is the best way of self healing. She says the spa menu is half to heal the soul and half to heal the body. “Our mission,” she says, “is to anchor Divine Energy in our spa to inspire and nurture our guests.”

I opted for Pranic Healing, a Deep Tissue Massage, and of course a facial called Le Biologique Feerie, that included a Collagen Mask. The transition from one treatment to another was seamless and was all in the same treatment room. My therapist Diana truly had a special gift for healing. They use Biologique Recherche, a line developed using plants and bio-marine extracts that are highly concentrated and very pure.

I wish I could have stayed longer at the spa, but I had to head to the airport in Buenos Aires for my long haul flight back home. At least, I was looking beautiful and taking some of this special place home with me in my heart.

Fern Tree Spa Half Moon Bay

Fern Tree Spa Half Moon Bay

Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon Bay Resort, Jamaica

I took the red eye to JFK and then hopped another flight to Jamaica. By the time I arrived to relax at the beautiful 400 acre Half Moon Bay Resort near Rosehall, all I could do was crawl to the sand. Lucky-me, a private beach was only a few yards from my lanai. So I made a call and wandered over to the Fern Tree Spa, tucked into a tree lined patio with separate buildings and private pools throughout. One fantastic spot for a couples massage or a private yoga class are the two cabanas that hang over the ocean.

My Re-balancing Marine Facial began with a deep pore cleansing, detox of skin and skin re-balancing. My therapist was a local lady, experienced and gentle, who gave the most incredible light finger tip massage all over my face– truly amazing. While relaxing with a rejuvenating mask on, I had my hands and feet massaged. I was feeling very pampered and grateful, and almost literally danced out the door.

Moana Lani  Spa

Moana Lani Spa

Moana Lani Spa at the Moana Surfrider Hotel, Waikiki, Hawaii

Yes, one can be worn out in Waikiki. I was looking for some respite from my work schedule in Hawaii, and a dear friend suggested I try the Signature Lomi Facial at the Moana Lani Spa. More than a facial, it incorporates a beautiful CD that plays while you are being indulged with premier Rice Force products. Also, the long smooth strokes of the Hawaiian lomi-lomi massage are adapted for this facial.

I was intrigued, so I headed over to the “First Lady of Waikiki,” the historic Moana Surfrider Hotel, a Westin Resort. I continued up to the second floor ocean front Moana Lani Spa, with its breathtaking view of Diamond Head and Waikiki beach. Here, Spa Director, Travis Kono, explained more about this unique treatment. “Our commitment at the Moana Lani Spa is to bring back the local Hawaiian traditional forms of healing and wellness that have been lost along the way. Sharing authentic Hawaiian practices in a modern day luxury environment with all the amenities is a unique experience. We’ve taken the philosophy and techniques and incorporated it into a facial protocol by a local healer and Lomi Lomi kumu (teacher), LiAnn Uyeda, who has been practicing Lomi Lomi for over 18 years. The facial massage sequence, using organic coconut oil and local honey, along with the Rice Force products, stimulates circulation, providing firming of the skin, strengthening of the facial muscles and offering a natural alternative to electronic stimulation devices that are often used in facials. ”

When I asked him why the extra thought as to the music playing during treatments, he said, “ Music is an amazing trigger to experiences. We hear a song and it reminds us of a another time and place. We wanted our Signature Lomi Facial to have a multi-sensory experience and collaborated with an award-winning Hawaiian vocalist, Natalie Ai Kamauu, on a compilation of her music that we use in this treatment.”

At the end of my magnificent facial, my talented therapist presented me with Ms. Kamauu’s CD, “Moana Memories,” as a gift to take with me and play again to trigger the relaxation I felt in the treatment room. What a truly Hawaiian thing to do. Mahalo!

Penelope & The Beauty Bar, At the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle

Angela Rosen’s homage to beauty and feeling special is her Penelope & The Beauty Bar Spa. She and her staff offer treatments, massages and manicures to brighten up the busy executive’s day or for that special affair or event at the venerable Olympic Hotel. Treatments here begin with a cheery hello at check in, a trip to the black marble enrobed dressing room, where the attendant hangs all of your belongings in a zipped hanging bag. You are then sent off to relax before being called for your facial.

Stacy Fullerton was my esthetician and possessed a serene demeanor, encouraging me to relax as she evaluated my face. Then, she turned to her Biologique Recherche product line and we were off slowly and deliberately. She applied the products with gentle movements, encouraging my skin to absorb the magical serums as she addressed my fine lines, redness and lines around my eyes. After my blessed hour, I was very relaxed and kind of in la-la land, when I headed up to my room at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. But the best moment was later at dinner, when my daughter said, “ Mom, your face looks so young.”– mission accomplished.

I learned later from Angela that her spa’s motto is, “The perfect blending of science and nature.” To do this, she brings to her guests a curated selection of natural, effective products from around the world, and provides innovative treatments for best results and wellness. I can certainly see the results.

Wherever you are in the world, make some time to pamper yourself with a face-restoring facial; I have never regretted it.

About the Author:

Michelle is a freelance journalist specializing in luxury and experiential travel. Her readers number in the millions through her various online outlets and print magazines. She loves to explore a culture through their culture and food. "Sometimes, " she says , "luxury can be a shack on the beach with a sand floor and a ceiling of stars."


  1. Noel July 11, 2014 at 3:29 am

    I love going to spas at destination vacation travels, these are all spectacular. I might drop by the Canyon Ranch spa at the Venetian when I head out to Vegas for DMAI next week, great tip!

  2. Michelle July 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks Noel, these are my faves. Hope you do get the chance to visit Canyon Ranch in Vegas. Do try the cafe there for fresh juices and creative, healthy spa fare; especially good at breakfast.

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