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Need a day at the spa? Catalina has tons of options for relaxation and rejuvenation

a couple of lawn chairs sitting on top of a building

I may have been lying on a massage table in Avalon, but I felt transported to the beach of a Greek island.

The location was Island Spa Catalina, where I was trying out the heated sand bed, one of only a few in the United States. The treatment technique is based on ancient Greek concepts, using heated sand to promote comfort.a couple of lawn chairs sitting on top of a building

It works. I was so comfortable that I could hardly keep my eyes open. I felt like I was floating on a warm cloud, with every tight muscle deeply relaxed. The therapist moved little mounds of quartz sand crystals into position to support my back and legs.

“The warmed sand molds to your body,” she said. “It soothes joints and makes muscles more malleable during the massage. The sand radiates the heat, distributing it better than a regular heated bed does.”

Whatever the reason, it works. I was approaching nirvana.

Island Spa Catalina, Avalon’s newest day spa, is just one of a dozen places where that you can relax and de-stress during a visit to the Island. After a day outdoors — diving, hiking, paragliding, biking or zip-lining — you may need a little recovery time indoors.

You can find it here, whether you need a deep tissue or sports massage, a facial, couples’ massage or other treatment. Avalon’s day spas range from small businesses with a few tables to Island Spa Catalina, a 15,000-square-foot destination resort spa.

Here’s a sampling of what’s offered:

Most spas are indoors, but at least two Avalon treatment centers give you the option of having a massage outdoors, where you can see the ocean during your treatment. Massages by the Sea is on a hillside at Descanso Beach Club, with tables that overlook the sea.

A Touch of Heaven Day Spa is at the Metropole Hotel, which overlooks the bay. It offers couples’ massages, stone or deep tissue-style massages or chair massages on an outdoor patio. Or you can choose indoor spa treatments.

The Aurora Hotel & Spa offers lodging and spa services. Its signature massage, the Mermaid’s Kiss, is a blend of Swedish, deep tissue and Reiki massage styles combined with Thai stretching and body work. Aurora’s spa is operated by Avalon Massage Therapy, which also will deliver its services to your condo or cottage, if you prefer.

“Most people find that our treatments are artistic and healing,” says  Michelle Bray, owner of Catalina Sea Spa, which has been massaging the kinks out of island visitors for 15 years. The downtown Avalon spa specializes in couples’ massages. Treatments include lavender facial massages, peppermint scalp massages and foot massages. Massage styles include Swedish, hot stone, sports, pregnancy and others.

If you’d like a hair appointment after your treatment, you might try Island Breeze Spa & Salon, where the theme is “Relax. You’re on island time.” The spa advertises that it’s the Island’s only combination spa and salon. It offers couples’ massages, facials, mani-pedis and other services.

Or, if you’re just looking for a foot massage, check out Catalina Hair & Nails Salon, which has specialty foot treatments while you relax in a massage chair. In addition, the salon welcomes bridal parties and will handle hair and makeup for groups, as well as individuals.

And don’t forget Island Spa Catalina, which offers much more than the sand bed mentioned earlier. This 15,000-square-foot spa has a pool, nine treatment rooms, a patio with bay views,  a wellness cafe, sauna and steam room and fitness courses. It has couples’ suites and offers an array of exotic treatments, such as the heated quartz-sand table.

“We offer more than a massage,´ says Zach Thomas, spa director. We offer a place to slow down, disconnect and take a little time for yourself.”


by Rosemary McClure

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