You undress and slither into a contraption resembling the orgasmatron from Woody Allen's Sleeper. Encased up to your neck, you feel a fine mist tickling your entire body. You try to relax-but boy does it tickle. This stranger-than-fiction experience is actually a new spa treatment called Panthermal, which uses low-temperature steam to deliver pure oxygen to your skin and is just one of several newfangled treatments popping up at ski resort spas. We wondered how they compare to that most venerable of après-ski indulgences, the hot tub.
Treatment:You recline inside a computerized, podlike unit with robotic arms that spray your skin with ionized steam and oxygen.
Where to get it:Allegria Spa at the Hyatt, Beaver Creek, CO (970-748-7500)
What it costs:$125
Purported benefits:"Reduces muscle fatigue and delays cellular aging process."
Brings to mind:A naked ride on the space shuttle Discovery.
Potential hazard:The fire alarm sounds, leaving you stranded in a 400-pound metal sarcophagus.
Treatment:Heated stones (up to 135 F) are strategically placed on your person (e.g., between your toes) and are used in a massage.
Where to get it:Stoweflake Spa, Stowe, VT (800-253-2232); Cliff Spa, Snowbird, UT (801-933-2223)
What it costs:$95-$110
Purported benefits:"Brings relief to muscles, sore joints, stressed emotions, and weary spirit."
Brings to mind:Lying on a hot, rocky beach.
Potential hazard:The rock heater meter is busted, so the therapist unwittingly brands you with scalding hot stones.
ARNICA SPORTS RECOVERY
Treatment:A salve made with arnica, alleged to have restorative benefits, is massaged in, followed by an herbal body wrap.
Where to get it:Body Sage at the Rusty Parrot, Jackson, WY(307-733-2000)
What it costs:$150
Purported benefits:"Naturally speeds up healing and reduces inflammation."
Brings to mind:Drinking herbal tea while slathered with Ben Gay.
Potential hazard:Herbal scent sends prospective dance partners at the local bar running for cover.
Treatment:You soak in lots of hot water, bubbles, and chlorine alongside fellow skiers.
Where to get it:Just about any condo in ski country.
What it costs:Free with condo rental or invite from groovy new friends.
Purported benefits:Relaxes tired muscles; provides venue for meeting swinging skiers sans the pastel powder suits.
Brings to mind:A co-ed eighth-grade locker room.
Potential hazard:Can you say, "Bad naked"?