Spas can be incredibly intimidating if you're unfamiliar with their benefits. The pace is so much slower than the outside world. The staff is so centered, and you're so frazzled. The equipment looks a little scary. And, oh my God, some of these treatments require you to get naked!
All in all, it's easy to get confused as to how spas are supposed to make you feel good. But when holiday stress piles up like so many unwrapped presents, a gift certificate to one of these supremely relaxing spas might just turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving.
TRANQUILITY DAY SPA
149 Second St. N., St. Petersburg (727-898-7800).
"The packages we offer really allow a person to feel good about themselves inside and out," says Tranquility owner Robin Grabowski, a dark-haired dynamo who exudes a beaming mix of passion and peace. "You leave with an overall feeling of serenity. ... Our culture is very professional, yet relaxed."
Tranquility understands that everyone needs relaxation. Adolescents learn the basics of skin analysis and care at a Teen Spa Day. Grabowski awards their attention with movie tickets.
Surgery patients find comfort with StarVac Treatments. Men get in on the act with The Gentleman's Club. Even the Devil Rays and the cast of Cirque du Soleil are known to stop in for a bit of down time.
"Our goal is to have every client leave with a sense of ultimate well-being," says Grabowski, "no matter what is going on outside the walls of our day spa."
DI BODY & BOUTIQUE
227 E. Davis Blvd., Davis Islands (813-258-3926).
Davis Islands, for all their isolated charm and neighborhood pride, can occasionally feel like a replica of a certain fictional town in Connecticut, immortalized in literature and film for its creepy uniformity.
There's the way drivers sport those bumper stickers with that ubiquitous "DI." Everyone knows everyone. And that Tate clan of Tate Brothers Pizza fame. What do they own? Like, everything?
Basically, yes, including DI Body & Boutique, but take one step into the locally loved spa and you'll see why residents of these sleepy islands prize their privacy and revere their own. DI Body & Boutique is the prime example of what a business that focuses on community can offer its clientele in goods, services and a friendly, feel-good vibe.
"We do have a lot of repeat clients," says Dorian Domingue, DI's spa director and airbrush tan artist. "We like to think there's a little magic involved. It's the wonder of transformation."
The two-hour facial and massage combo, available from either a male or female masseuse, is the spa's most popular gift treatment, usually booked by husbands for wives, but manicures, pedicures and waxing fill up a good portion of the appointment book.
CAPELLI GROOMING SALON FOR MEN
715 S. Howard Ave., Tampa (813-258-1220).
Scruffy boys are cute. Polished men are hot.
Capelli Grooming Salon for Men can be the touch that makes the difference. The men-only salon performs a tailored range of services so that gentlemen feel at home without feeling girly.
Gift certificates, available online soon, can be used toward any one of the items on the extensive menu. Capelli offers the more frou-frou services like hair straightening and coloring, microdermabrasion and paraffin treatments. But the testosterone pumps up a notch with boot and shoe shines, sports massages and the bodybuilders' wax special, a full-body dip to prepare you before slathering on all that oil.
The mostly-female staff is the key to comfort at this wood-paneled oasis. The salon is impressively calm, considering the extensive roster of clients that keep owner Laura Capelli on her feet all day every day.
Guys who prove their loyalty are eligible for the limited VIP Membership, a beat that knocks 10 percent off the prices and grants access to office equipment and bottle service.