by By Kaylee Hultgren | October 01, 2009

As meetings grow shorter and attendees' free time dissipates, attracting group business to spas becomes more challenging. Nonetheless, spa consultants and directors across the county have risen to the occasion with new, innovative treatments. Following are some noteworthy enticements.

Relaxation room at the Spa at Teranea ResortThe Spa at Terranea Resort, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.
(310) 265-2800;

At the Spa at Terranea, it's all in the timing -- the body's timing, to be precise. Treatments are designed to coincide with the body's natural circadian rhythms. As spa director Melinda Milner put it, "Every living cell, no matter how small, has a cycle of rest and repair, followed by activity. Our treatments correspond to those rhythms. For example, in the morning you might have an invigorating scrub, while in the evening you would receive a massage with long, soothing strokes as the body slows down and prepares for rest."

One popular morning treatment is Reflections in Crystal, a refreshing foot soak with crystal quartz (a mineral indigenous to the area and known for energizing and cleansing properties), followed by a foot massage. An evening treatment, called Flickering Embers, combines incense, the sound of ocean waves and a flickering fireplace, all to encourage rest. In the meantime, guests experience a volcanic ash wrap, a bath in essential oils and a massage focused on the body's central core. "Bridging time" treatments, featuring Thai, Shiatsu and Therapeutic massages, are appropriate at any time of the day.

With 50,000 square feet and 25 treatment rooms, the Spa at Terranea is particularly group friendly. Six relaxation rooms are available, one of which can seat a private group of up to 20 people. The menu is fully customizable for groups, says Milner, with minitreatments possible for gatherings of up to 100.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York
(212) 805-8880;

Nearly three years in the making, Mandarin Oriental's Holistic Spa Treatments were unveiled this past June at several of the brand's luxury spas worldwide. True to the chain's east-meets-west philosophy, the Hong Kong-based company drew on the expertise of a team of aromatherapists, traditional Chinese medicine specialists, a personal trainer and a nutritionist.

Denise Vitiello, spa director of Manhattan's Mandarin Oriental New York, says the three years were necessary in order to build cross-cultural relationships with the Chinese doctors and to ensure that the treatments were results-oriented. "Normally, the doctors prescribe herbs for patients to ingest. Through aromatherapy, the herbs are absorbed through the skin using an essential oil. For that reason, our oils have a very high concentration of plants, herbs and oils."

Every treatment begins with a consultation and questionnaire, which determine the guest's current state of personal well being. The massage and oils are then tailored to one of five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal or water. The session concludes with recommendations for proper nutrition and exercise, to restore balance of mind, body and spirit and incorporate healthy choices into the guest's lifestyle.

Groups occupy the spa frequently, Vitiello says. From 16 to 18 people can be accommodated in an afternoon.

Healing Gardens at the LakeHouse SpaThe LakeHouse Spa at Lake Austin (Texas) Spa Resort
(800) 847-5637;

The LakeHouse Spa offers more than 100 spa treatments, many of which feature fresh ingredients plucked from the resort's expansive Healing Gardens. Among the offerings are the LakeHouse Lavender exfoliation treatment and the Rosemary Sea Salt Scrub. In keeping with the organic theme, director of treatment development Lynne Vertrees recently introduced the Flora Bee Signature Treatment, a full-body honey masque and flower lotion massage. "We use honey from Bost Bees, a local honey farm, mix it with flour and oil, and then apply it all over the body. The natural enzymes in honey help to alleviate allergies and soften the skin."

Coming in January is a series of dermatology treatment facials, such as anti-aging and glycolic peels. "Guests have requested more results-driven treatments. With the new facials, they'll see the difference immediately," claims Vertrees.

A sunroom at the facility holds up to 20 people, while a private group of up to 40 can occupy the entire spa.

The ICE Spa, Sheraton Anchorage (Alaska) Hotel & Spa
(907) 276-8700;

In September 2008, the 370-room Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa finished a $15 million renovation, which included the unveiling of the brand new ICE Spa. The facility's seasonal menu incorporates its arctic environs into spa treatments, most notably in the signature Glacial Facial, which uses Alaskan glacial mud, a local, mineral-rich product hand-harvested from South Alaskan glaciers, to exfoliate and detoxify the skin. To conclude, a refreshing fine mist of glacial water is applied.
Groups of up to 20 can take over the spa's relaxation room and two VIP areas.