Hands Off! High-Quality, Low-Touch Treatments for Your Next Spa Visit

Last updated August 22, 2023

Imagine a spa treatment that can help you release your tight muscles and stress—without anyone laying a hand on your body. Not only is this possible, but it is the new normal.

The spa is a traditionally intimate, hands-on experience. But look through many spa menus today, and you’ll see it: offerings for low-touch or no-touch treatments. Some of these treatments are entirely new and innovative approaches. 

Others are more private and personalized: saunas, a personal cryotherapy session, halotherapy, flotation in a dark, saltwater isolation tank and even special “meditation domes” where you can meditate in physical isolation.

What Are Low-Touch Treatments?

Low-touch spa treatments are exactly what they sound like: treatments with minimal touch and one-on-one interaction. Treatments that give you a little more space.

The evolution of these kinds of offerings has been a necessity for spas when there are so many proximity limitations.

In addition, this past year has been extremely stressful for everyone; you could argue people need self-care and stress relief now more than ever.

Spas have gotten creative in finding ways to help serve their clients, but in new ways. Offering touchless or low-touch treatments also can help a spa stand out from the rest in a competitive market.

Even post-pandemic, some people still feel uneasy about close personal contact for a while or may still feel more comfortable with greater personal space.

Low-touch treatments can open up the spa world to these people who might otherwise not want to go to the spa—and therefore not reap the benefits of treatments.

Examples of Low-Touch Treatments

While not every treatment can translate into a lower-touch option, spas are trying. And they’re playing up their existing options that allow privacy: saunas, salt rooms, cryotherapy, float tanks.

Infrared saunas are another wellness treatment that doesn’t require close human contact with anyone else. LED therapy is another option; you can experience a full treatment with just the “touch” of the lights.

Other spas offer more unusual options, such as “aura massages,” whereas others are relying more heavily on essential oils, aromatherapy and dried herbs (think: a lavender-filled eye pillow).

These components are easy to incorporate into meditation to give it an added boost. In a stressed-out world, some people are thrilled just to have the chance to relax in a dark, quiet room filled with soothing music and scents.

“Energy healing treatments” are working their way onto spa menus that otherwise might not have offered this kind of alternative therapy. These might look like crystal balancing, sound therapy and meditation using a virtual reality headset.

Massage chairs have replaced therapists in some instances. The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has begun offering a massage machine called Hyperice at many of its spas. This touch-free equipment does compression, vibration and percussion. You can pair it with heat vibration wraps and leg compression.

The Hypervolt is Hyperice’s high-powered massage gun. The Four Seasons in Abu Dhabi offers the Hypervolt Relax massage, designed to release tension and improve circulation, and the Hypervolt Recover, to improve mobility and tissue condition (“recovery like the athletes”).

If you still crave the human touch but want a little more air, other spas are amping up their chair massage offerings, where you remain clothed and therefore don’t need to be in an enclosed room.

For example, the Four Seasons in Abu Dhabi advertises its “seated massage” on a massage chair on its low-touch menu. Also on that menu: Table Thai Massage, a traditional Thai massage done while you’re fully clothed (no oil). It’s inspired by yoga and reflexology, using slow compressions and stretches.

Low-touch innovators

Uxua Casa Hotel and Spa in Brazil recently launched “self-treatments” that utilize the spa’s skincare products. You apply them yourself (or your partner does) in a private room or your hotel room.

You can also find a growing number of treatments offered outdoors. A reflexology treatment by the lake or outside under the tree still has the hands-on component, but in the open air and by isolating the connection to the feet, not the head, some guests feel more comfortable.

Carillon Miami Wellness Resort in Miami Beach features a variety of touchless services. These include the Prism Light Pod, Halotherapy and Infrared, Spa Wave, The Rasha, V.E.M.I. and VibraGenix set in a luxurious space surrounded by breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

A Touch of Bliss in Connecticut has a special low-touch section of its menu, featuring Celluma Light Therapy, which is supposed to increase circulation, help with tissue repair, decrease pain and inflammation and more. It also offers an Ionic Foot Detox, which is a foot bath designed to help your body balance, relax and de-stress.

The Hawanawana Spa at Four Seasons Resort Lanai advertises Reiki (Japanese energy healing) on its low-touch menu. It also offers a small-group therapeutic massage called Yomassage Self Care.

Guests remain in clothes, relax in restorative positions and are guided to practice mindfulness. The therapist doesn’t touch anyone. They guide the participants to perform self-massage and trigger-point therapy using massage balls.

Beyond the Treatment Room

The low-touch touch has extended beyond treatments, as well. Increasingly more spas, especially chains and larger spas in hotels, are moving to touch-free offerings every step of the way. 

In an attempt to limit human contact (and be as health-conscious as possible for concerned or higher-risk guests), these spas are offering digital/virtual appointments, check-ins, waivers and pre-appointment guidelines, payment/tips, follow-ups and more. 

This means no shared pens, clipboards and no waiting rooms of strangers sitting nearby. Many spas are offering a text check-in option; just text when you’re there, and they come to get you, one at a time.

The fitness center aspect of many spas is also getting more independent. People can book virtual classes or one-on-one sessions. In warmer weather, small, distanced outdoor fitness and wellness classes are an option. Spas (especially hotel spas) are offering guided hikes, bikes, walking tours and outdoor wellness activities.

The Hawanawana Spa at Four Seasons Resort Lanai features outdoor yoga, meditation and Pilates classes throughout the grounds. Classes are offered in small groups or privately. 

The hotel actually has a private fitness room, where you can work out by yourself with cardio equipment, a kettlebell, weights, resistance bands, dumbbells and more. There’s also a special yoga pavilion outside. This spa also has a Reiki Sound Healing outdoor class.

Spa gyms are also seeing an increase in Peloton and Mirror bikes and other equipment that offers structure and guidance but without an in-person instructor. Digital fitness training is huge, and in some cases, it’s replacing larger group fitness classes.

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