The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto at The Pearl Modern Spa and Boutique, in Maple Lawn, is a private three-room retreat, including clay body treatments, a steam chamber and inventive showers. (Photo by Justin Kase / May 1, 2012)

What do mud, pure oxygen, lava shells and chocolate have in common?

Each one is used by an area spa to deliver a unique relaxation and rejuvenation treatment.

While pedicures, facials and Swedish massage will always be staples at spas and salons, savvy business owners know clients occasionally want to treat themselves to an extraordinary experience.

"It's nice to have skin like butter after a body scrub," said Patti Tetro, of Glenwood, a regular at The Spa at Turf Valley, "but if you can get a body scrub with organic chocolate and leave feeling wonderful and smelling heavenly, that's an even better option."

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If you've ever wanted to book a spa experience that transcends the ordinary, consider adding one (or all!) of these treatments to your beauty bucket list:

The Ultimate Massage

$125 for 75 minutes
$140 for 90 minutes

Oasis Day Spa

10840 Little Patuxent Pkwy. #201, Columbia | 410-992-6772

Want to book a massage but can't decide among hot stones, reflexology, aromatherapy and deep tissue work? At Oasis Day Spa in Columbia, you don't have to limit yourself when you book an Ultimate Massage.

What began as one massage therapist’s desire to combine all she did best into one massage quickly caught on with co-workers and customers. Swedish and deep tissue massage, along with aromatherapy and hot stones, are incorporated into each Ultimate Massage. But what takes it to the next level is each massage therapist adds his or her own specialty to the mix. Reflexology, stretching acupressure and a variety of Eastern and Western modalities are incorporated into each individualized massage.

"This massage is all about each therapist giving the client a combination of the best we have," said Dave Corbliss, a massage therapist at Oasis. "You can book 75 or 90 minutes, which is important because most clients take about half an hour to really start relaxing. With a 90-minute Ultimate Massage, you get your 30 minutes to unwind, then a full hour of beneficial bodywork."

The Blue Grotto

$80 per person for 50 minutes

The Pearl Modern Spa and Boutique

8171 Maple Lawn Blvd. #100, Fulton | 301-776-6948

Explore The Blue Grotto if you’ve always wanted to try a do-it-yourself treatment with someone special. From couples looking for romance to groups of girlfriends seeking a bonding experience, the three-room grotto rarely stands empty.

In complete privacy, clients – in whatever degree of undress they feel comfortable – enter the first chamber to find a collection of deep-sea clays specially formulated for everything from skin purifying to anti-aging to muscle relaxation.

You can spread the clays on yourself and others using brushes or hands, then it’s on to a second, steam-filled, chamber. Relax on the room's benches for up to 30 minutes while the muds penetrate into the skin, then, with one turn of a lever, a monsoon rain shower pours down from shower heads in the ceiling. An aromatherapy salt scrub is provided to rinse off the mud while exfoliating the skin. The final chamber contains two multi-head showers that spray water at various levels and intensities. Shampoo, conditioner and body wash in The Pearl's signature Icelandic Moonflower scent are provided.

"It's up to our clients to make The Blue Grotto whatever they want it to be," said Lindsay Houghton, spa manager. "It can be exciting, romantic, relaxing – whatever unique experience they are looking for, they can make it happen in The Blue Grotto."