Since jetting off to Fiji isn't in everyone's budget at the moment, perhaps the cure for the winter blues might include some indulgence in a Northern California spa. In researching my NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE, I had the chance to try out spa treatments and here are a few that would surely make good stocking stuffers.
Kabuki Hot Spring and Spa (www.kabukisprings.com) offers a truly indulgent Abhyanga Massage with Shirodhara Treatment that makes you feel like someone is taking off your scalp and filling it with warm honey. Afterwards you can soak in the hot springs, sip tea and read in the communal bathhouse.
Sen Spa (www.senspa.com) is located in an old military bunker in the Presidio and upon entering, you won't believe how the architects transformed the space into an earthly haven, incorporating fire, water, earth and air into the design. You can nibble on dark chocolate before your massage or facial and then relax in the lounge, reading the inspirational quotes scattered around the facilities.
Osmosis (www.osmosis.com) offers guests the only chance in Northern California to experience Japanese cedar enzyme baths. Afterwards get a massage by the talented massage therapists then head next door to Wildflour Bakery for some of the best bread around.
Kenwood Inn Spa (www.kenwoodinn.com) specializes in vinotherapy--wine baths, chardonnay facials, cabernet scrubs. My favorite is the wine barrel bath, overlooking the vineyards, followed by a massage. Afterwards, you can relax by the pool, sipping an elixir and listening to the fountains. Can we say decadence?
Auberge Du Soleil Spa (www.aubergedusoleil.com) might not allow walk ins in summer, but come wintertime, you can stroll onto the property and be treated like the celebrities that hide out at this gorgeous retreat. Start with champagne, a dip in the 98 degree infinity pool overlooking the valley and then choose between a massage and outdoor bath overlooking the forest or a facial with a foot massage. Whatever you choose, prepare to veg out afterwards.
Villagio Inn Spa (www.villagio.com) offers one of the finest spas in the valley. If you can spring for it, get an Asian-themed suite (one of the only of its kind in Northern California), where you get to enjoy a 2.5 hour spa treatment of your choice, a steam shower, private fireplace and outdoor tub.
Bernardus Spa (www.bernardus.com) is my choice for under the radar spa treatments in a pastoral setting. Not only will you enjoy regal treatment, but you can relax by the pool for hours, eating Cal Stamenov's wonderful cuisine.