Lava shell massage

$100 for 60 minutes

Skin Care Institute

10705 Charter Drive #430, Columbia | 410-740-0007

Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

On a Caribbean vacation a few years ago, Skin Care Institute co-owner Jamie Bright spotted a spa service she'd never heard of before – a lava shell massage. She made an appointment for one that day, did some research, and today her clients can experience the same right in Columbia.

While many spas offer hot stone massages, Bright said the shell massages differ because each Tiger Striped clam shell used for the service fits neatly in the palms of the therapist’s hands and retains heat throughout the entire massage. No reheating is necessary.

"Each shell is polished so smoothly, and the massage therapist uses one in each hand," she explained. "It's a unique treatment we offer, and because there are no stones to keep heating, the massage is very fluid, very peaceful and there are no distractions."

Decadent chocolate scrub

$95 for 60 minutes

The Spa at Turf Valley

2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City | 410-203-2755

Turf Valley spa director Denise Neubauer regularly schedules "play days" with her staff where they can experiment with spa treatments and ingredients to dream up the many specials and services they offer. In fact, it was Neubauer herself who came up with the idea to combine pure, organic dark cocoa powder, raw sugars and a few other ingredients into what has become one of their more popular spa services – the Decadent Chocolate Scrub.

The scrub exfoliates the entire body from the neck down and is followed by one of Turf Valley's famous vichy showers, where seven shower heads above the table are opened to rinse away the scrub and relax the body. Afterward, a warm blend of shea and cocoa butter is applied to soften and moisturize the skin.

"The dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which are wonderful for the skin, the smell is irresistible and your body stays smooth for up to a week after," Neubauer said, adding that during the holidays a special Chocolate Peppermint Scrub is available.


$109 for 60 minutes


5570 Sterrett Place #105, Columbia | 410-964-1500

Listed under "Exotic Treatments From India," Shirodhara combines specialized massage with Ayurveda – a traditional alternative medicine in India.

Practitioners massage specific pressure points on the head, neck, shoulders and feet to relax the client, then a fine stream of organic sesame oil is directed onto the center of the forehead.