When it comes to animals, here at The Good Spa Guide we all have our favourites. We've ooooh'd and aaaah'd over cute creatures, but we've only ever dreamed of having them as pets -- not as therapists!
If you think a link between spa treatments and animals is a tenuous one, think again! Animals and spa treatments apparently go hand-in-hand around the globe...
Dolphin Assisted Therapy: Sevastopol, Crimea
Advocates of using dolphins in human therapy claim that the dolphins possess an innate healing ability to combat the "strong psychogenic component of the pathogenesis". In layman's terms? Cure disease. Whether this is true or not, many hundreds of people have found interactions with dolphins to be a liberating, relaxing and magical experience.
Dolphin Assisted Therapy is said to be particularly beneficial for people with chronic fatigue, emotional stress, phobias, depression, and nurasthenia.
If you can't indulge in some one-on-one dolphin therapy, you could always try some Virtual Dolphin Therapy instead. You can expect to experience "many of the healing qualities of a dolphin encounter" during your virtual dolphin therapy, apparently. This virtual therapy essentially requires you to lie on a "tranquility sound and water table". The table sends music and sound vibrations through your body while you listen to relaxing music combined with dolphin and ocean sounds, and watch images of dolphins swimming.
Reiki on horseback: Rockin' Heart Ranch, Jackson, Wyoming, USA
Reiki is generally carried out by a human practitioner on human clients. However, reiki has also been used on animals. Approaching from the oblique angle is Christina DiBartolo, who believes that horses possess "an innate healing energy". So, Christina guides her clients through a reiki session on horseback, ostensibly to enable you to utilise the healing power of the horse to overcome various physical or emotional ailments.
Creepies and crawlies
When it comes to younger-looking skin, it seems there really is no end to where we will go: bee-venom face masks, snail-secretion skin cream, and even snake-venom facials.
Companies such as Rodial have developed skin serums based on the venom of the Temple Viper snake. Essentially, these serums temporarily "freeze" facial muscles in a similar (but less invasive) manner to Botox, tightening the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles ... for a time, at least. Meanwhile, the secretions of snails are apparently full of super-powerful enzymes that help tackle acne, reduce wrinkles and brighten the complexion. As for bee venom, this follows a similar route to snake serum: supposedly the sting extract makes your facial muscles contract, resulting in younger-looking skin. We wonder if it hurts.
Japanese spa monkeys
Last but not least, here are some of our monkey cousins suggesting that our love of hydrotherapy is not just an indulgence of civilisation -- it's a primal instinct!
28th February 2014
Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it.
Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase.
Behind the scenes