High flyer Karen Zuckerman, president of Maryland-based marketing and advertising agency HZDG, has a secret weapon for avoiding the air terminal blues: treating herself to a facial or massage while waiting to board her plane. No, Zuckerman doesn't travel with a beauty entourage. Rather, she’s just one of many travelers taking advantage of the proliferation of airport spas around the world.
A spa aficionado in her leisure time, Zuckerman often visits high-end beauty temples like the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and Canyon Ranch. While none of these luxurious spas have opened airport outposts (yet), plenty of other brands are helping make flying a whole lot more Zen these days.
“An airport spa gives me the ability to multitask and do a little something for myself,” explains Zuckerman, who travels about 30 times per year for work within the U.S. and Europe. Depending on what’s available, she’ll book a facial, massage or quick mani-pedi at whatever terminal she finds herself in. “When I’m really stressed and can sneak in a 20-minute neck or back massage, that’s a huge bonus,” she says.
Sunny Kortz of OraOxygen—whose spas in the Calgary International and Detroit airports attract travelers, airport employees and the odd civilian (the Calgary branch is located pre-security)—reports that many clients come for combined oxygen/massage treatments. “The oxygen refreshes your body and mind after a long plane trip,” she says. “When used together with a massage treatment, people can go energized to that business meeting or trip with the kids.”
Jill Bryan, regional manager for the Absolute Spa at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, constantly receives glowing feedback from guests (many of whom are pilots and flight attendants) who indulge in a spa session between flights. “Aside from reading a book or playing on your smartphone, there’s not a whole lot to do in the airport,” she says. “We find a lot of guests that didn’t have time to get their last-minute pre-holiday treatments done are extra appreciative.”
The spa offers a range of treatments pitched at frequent flyers, including a color gel no-chip manicure that lasts up to three weeks, and a spray-tan application that’s hugely popular with vacationers heading to tropical destinations.
Whether you’re stuck in transit, quailing at the prospect of boarding a long-haul flight or just whiling away the hours between check-in and takeoff, there are now countless ways to relieve the tension, stress and ennui of traveling before you've even taken off. Check out our list of terminally fabulous airport spas, from Calgary to Dubai, and prepare to give travel-induced stress a send-off.