San Francisco: Spas are very popular in US and in San Francisco. Asian spas offering Ayurveda, are the hottest trend. There are more than 500 spas in San Francisco. Many of them have included Asian methods, such as yoga, tai chi and Japanese shiatsu.
Americans spent $11.2 billion in going to spas in 2003. According to the International Spa Association, 136 million Americans visited spas in the year - nearly one visit for every two residents in the US.
Spas are everywhere, including shopping malls and beauty salons. Kamalaspa in downtown San Francisco, opened in December last year, is an Indian-influenced day spa, offering Ayurveda- influenced massage and body treatments.
Kamalaspa was named from the Indian word kamal, or lotus. Its treatments include Shirodhara, which is an Ayurvedic head massage, and Abhyanga Four Hands, an Ayurvedic body massage with specific herbal oils.
Asian influenced spas are well accepted in San Francisco, partly because more than a third of San Francisco's 744,000 residents are Asians.
Spas in the city have also tried to include new treatment, such as Ayurveda treatment and traditional Thai massage, in an effort to differentiate themselves from mainstream purveyors of European massages and facials.
International Orange, one of San Francisco's popular spas with Western influenced decor located at the trendy Fillmore shopping street, offers four kinds of body treatment.
Among the four, three are Asian style treatments - acupuncture, Thai massage and Japanese ritual-based treatment.
The spa also offers a 90-minute yoga session five times a day.
Spas that specialize solely in Asian theme treatments have also been opened in San Francisco and surrounding area.
One of them is Kabuki Springs and Spa, a Japanese-style spa with burning incense and flute music, as well as Asian decoration with meditation bells and a Buddha statue.
The Kabuki first opened its doors in 1971, targeting mainly local Japanese as a 'sento', a traditional Japanese public bath. But in 1999, San Francisco's largest boutique hotel operator, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, took over the spa.
The company completely modernized the place from the 70s-style accoutrements to oriental-looking contemporary fixtures, such as sage-green ceramic and gray slate tiles, wooden Adirondack chairs in the bath area as well as a huge new steam room and sauna.
Full-time bathing attendants are in the communal baths to provide complimentary bowls of sea salts, cucumber and lemon slices on ice and chilled face cloths as well as free herbal teas and waters.
The company also expanded the massage service, once limited to the Japanese shiatsu massage, to other massages, such as Indian and Swedish.
The Center for Thai Massage and Oasis Healing Arts in San Rafael, just outside of San Francisco, is a popular weekend retreat for San Franciscans.
The place offers Thai massage and yoga, as well as Thai herbal facial treatment. Kimberly Call, a Thai massage practitioner, founded it.
Spa prices vary depending on the location, the type of spa and the luxury amenities that are included.
A 50-minute facial or body treatment costs about 70 dollars in spas in San Francisco while similar treatment at spa retreat places, like Osmosis, is over 100 dollars.
Spa treatment is designed to soothe the spirit, help take away stress and relax the body.
The Asian spiritual exercise of yoga has continued attracting many Americans. The latest Japanese-influenced exercise of Budokon, a combination of yoga, martial arts and meditation, has already attracted many Hollywood celebrities, such as Meg Ryan and Jennifer Aniston.