Central Ohio offers an array of luxurious spa services, and the Capital Style staff dutifully tried a handful of the most exquisite so we could share our experiences with you (all for your sake, of course!). From facials and scrubs to wraps and massages, we found treatments that offer the kind of take-me-away pampering you need this time of year. Here's to a little autumn R&R.

Central Ohio offers an array of luxurious spa services, and the Capital Style staff dutifully tried a handful of the most exquisite so we could share our experiences with you (all for your sake, of course!). From facials and scrubs to wraps and massages, we found treatments that offer the kind of take-me-away pampering you need this time of year. Here's to a little autumn R&R.

Fabulous Falls

As the mother of a six-month-old, I often try to steal a few more minutes in the shower, letting the warm water rain down and basking in some precious alone time. So you can bet that I loved every minute of the Polaris Sweet Escape, a luxurious hydrotherapy package that combines a customized full-body massage with a vichy shower.

The vichy shower is, indeed, a shower. Only you're lying on a massage table under a long, adjustable shower arm equipped with seven shower heads, unwinding while a therapist gives a massage, applies a body mask or rubs on an exfoliating head-to-toe sugar scrub (for the Sweet Escape, of course, you get the sugar scrub). With the sound of water rushing down around me, it was sort of like an oceanside massage delivered under a waterfall -- in other words, heaven.

During the shower, you're completely nude, but lights are kept low and the therapist carefully keeps towels in place to avoid revealing too much skin. I felt completely comfortable during the entire spa visit.

After the sugar scrub, it was time to dry off and move to a new room for my massage. I opted for a deep-tissue massage, tailored to relieve muscle tension and pain by focusing on deeper layers of muscles. (Thanks to carrying around the aforementioned baby, my back and neck are always tense.) The massage oil I picked was designed to relax muscles, with lemon, lavender, geranium, peppermint and juniper scents. After a full hour and a half of alone time, I left feeling mighty relaxed.

-- Shelley Mann

SERVICE
Polaris Sweet Escape, $150

CHARLES PENZONE
The Grand Salon at Polaris Parkway
771 Polaris Parkway, Polaris
614-418-5350
www.CharlesPenzone.com

Getting That Glow

At a few months pregnant, I'm certain there are fewer guilty pleasures more worth one's dime than an hour-long massage. This one-done on a slightly heated bed with a few strategically placed heating pads to warm the muscles-was gentle and soothing. I felt cocooned and relaxed (and also left thinking that I will never again attend a baby shower with any gift other than a massage for the mommy-to-be!).

My real surprise, though, came after I snuggled into my robe and slippers and walked a couple of rooms over for a Custom Radiance Facial. There, I spent 90 minutes having my face pampered like never before. The senior esthetician gave my skin a once-over before concocting her plan for my face, then proceeded to cleanse, exfoliate, extract (a wee bit painful but well worth ridding my nose of its blackheads!), steam and hydrate. (The highlight? A goopy mask that turned into a rubbery mold of my face. So cool!)

But it got better. Between various treatments (or maybe while I was waiting for the mask to dry I was kind of in a dreamy state by that point), the massaging began. My hands and arms were massaged, and then my lubed-up hands were placed in warm mitts to lock in the moisture. My feet were fabulously rubbed. And, after choosing the blue oil-which has a delightful peppermint aroma-my neck and shoulders were massaged as well. (Typically the neck massage also includes hot stones, but my doc's office had nixed the idea while with child.)
It truly was luxurious. Plus, I left with ultra-soft hands and a face that was kind of glowy for a few days. Blissful!

--Kristy Eckert

SERVICES
Pregnancy Massage, $70
Custom Radiance Facial, $110

THE SPA AT RIVER RIDGE
6400 Riverside Dr.,
Building A, Dublin
614-766-9946
www.TheSpaAtRiverRidge.com

Facial Fine-Tuning

Afacial involving low voltages of electricity doesn't necessarily sound soothing. But not only did such a treatment leave my skin's lines smoothed and my rosacea soothed, I also found it quite relaxing.

Based on World War II physical-therapy technology, the micro-current facial at Skin Perfect Clinic uses a low voltage of electricity to stimulate and firm up muscles in the face and neck. Two metal rods administer the current while they're stroked upward on the skin, which is slathered with an algae-intensive gel. Most clients sign up for a five-week, 10-facial package with monthly "tune-ups" to follow. I tried one facial. The spa's charming esthetician Vaidila Harmon estimated that about 85 percent of her clients fall asleep during the 45-minute procedure, despite the fact that the voltage induces a slight metallic taste, creates a crackling sensation on your forehead and stimulates the optic nerves, causing you to "see" flashes of light behind your closed eyelids (but is completely safe).

Despite all that, I found the treatment very relaxing. The little "thinking crease" between my brows smoothed away considerably and, most surprisingly, the mild redness of rosacea near my nose (managed every day with prescription lotion) was noticeably diminished. The results lasted about 72 hours, as Harmon said they would. The treatment also created a smooth and healthy-looking palette for the makeup application that followed.

Using house brands of cosmetics, Harmon wielded her brushes like an artist, helping me figure out new strategies for the changing needs of my 40-something skin. I was surprised to learn I can still use the same eye-shadow contouring I've always favored and I don't have to abandon my tinted moisturizer for Kabuki-esque quantities of foundation. But I do need to embrace lip stains for the more natural look I like, and primer lotions to even out my complexion.

--Jane Hawes

SERVICES
Micro-current Facial, $125 for one ($475 for five, $950 for 10)
Makeup Application Lesson, $100

SKIN PERFECT CLINIC
47 E. Wilson Bridge Rd.,
Worthington
614-846-8420
www.SkinPerfectClinic.com

Aroma Therapy

Before leading me down the hallway to my massage room, Tim Maurer put a hand on my shoulder and warned me that I might feel claustrophobic while cocooned in a body wrap. Far from it.

Maurer, the owner and artistic director at Mukha, was careful to avoid wrapping me too tightly in the layers of towels and blankets because I told him I'm somewhat claustrophobic. But after the uber-relaxing head-to-toe aromatherapy exfoliating scrub; arm, leg, shoulder and neck massage; and zone-me-out pineapple facial with a lemongrass steam, I was ready for anything.

As it was, the wrap felt like getting a long, tight hug from a heavy blanket. It's designed to insulate the body, causing you to sweat and allowing the massage oil to moisturize an even deeper layer of the skin. During the service, you wear a set of disposable underwear, and 75 percent of your body is covered in towels. After I'd gone in and out of sleep for 20 minutes, Maurer uncovered me and applied a shea butter lotion of the custom scent I'd picked before starting the process. The massage, exfoliation and layers of moisturizer gave me a light-on-my-feet feeling for the next 24 hours.

My skin reached a new level of softness during the pedicure that followed, which included relaxing in a massage chair overlooking a sunny High Street while my feet heated up in the foot bath and were buffed to match a baby's bottom. The highlight of both the manicure and pedicure was the invigorating arm and leg massage. My nails, polished and pretty, were the lasting reminder of my spoil-me day.

--Brittany Kress

SERVICES
Aromatherapy wrap, $105
Aromatherapy Affair facial, $90
The Delightful Duo manicure and pedicure, $85

MUKHA CUSTOM COSMETICS & MEDI-SPA
980 N. High St., Short North
614-294-7546
www.MukhaSpa.com

Caviar & Grapes

I walked into the Papillon Day Spa at Polaris rumpled and worn out, distractedly checking and rechecking a grocery list of to-dos and haven't-done-yets. I walked out in a state of bliss-- skin supple and glowing, mind clear and tranquil. The difference: a caviar facial and a vine therapy antioxidant grape scrub with a wrap and a massage.

Before you ask about the facial, there was no fishy smell or spatula. Dee Crabb, Papillon's owner, gently cleansed my skin, applied a mild peel and finished with a moisturizer. She then placed a cool, gel-like mask over my face-- it contained not the fish eggs themselves, but their protein-rich essence. Once the mask was removed, Crabb used an ultrasound wand to help the nutrients further penetrate the skin.

I didn't realize how much tension I carried in my facial muscles until they relaxed. The muscles between my eyebrows loosened, as did those in my jaw (which I didn't realize was even clenched). Crabb next turned her attention to my neck, shoulders and upper back, rubbing out tension from areas especially affected by long hours in front of a computer.

After the facial, I was whisked to a massage studio, where a therapist painted a mixture of antioxidant-rich grape extract and essential oils on my legs, arms, stomach, back and upper chest. She wrapped me in a thermal blanket and plastic sheet. The heat and the wrap helped the antioxidants and other nutrients to better penetrate the skin, leaving it incredibly soft. It was a calming balm to my tense body and restless mind. I left calm, relaxed and focused.

--Stephanie Czekalinski

SERVICES
Caviar facial, $85
Vine therapy antioxidant grape scrub with wrap and cream, $95

PAPILLON DAY SPA
8710 Lyra Dr.
(inside the Hilton), Polaris
614-436-6801
www.PapillonDaySpa.net