Paradise Island Stories and Tips

Mandara Spa

If you're interested in making the most of your Atlantis vacation, I highly recommend a trip to Mandara Spa. I go every year when I come, and it's always helped relax me. I'd say it's not the best spa I've ever been to (that honor goes to the Four Seasons in Dallas), but it's way up there on the list.

Mandara Spa offers a variety of treatments, including facials, manicures, massages, wraps, hair extensions, makeup application, and combination packages. You can get a nail polish change for as little as $20, and a shampoo and blow dry for $35, but it's worth it to splurge and try one of the higher-end treatments. For one thing, you get to experience a special "ritual" - and if you spend over $99 you get free access to the sports center for a day and to the full spa, which includes an open-air thalassotherapy pool, sauna, steam rooms, and showers.

My first trip here in 2000 I got highlights in my hair. The technique they used was old-fashioned and not particularly painless, involving putting a plastic cap over your head and drawing hair through tiny holes in it, but the result was very natural. Still, thicker highlights are more fashionable now and I've seen them using the more popular foil method lately. Since that first time I've opted for more soothing treatments, and I haven't been disappointed so far. A regular Swedish massage is fantastic, of course, but you should definitely get more creative if you can afford it. I highly recommend the Caribbean Coffee Body Scrub for either men or women; a massage is included in the price, and if you love coffee the aroma alone relaxes you.

The most expensive treatment at Atlantis costs $350: Cleito's Tropical Tryst includes a facial, coconut scrub, massage, milk wrap, manicure and pedicure, and lasts 270 minutes. But if that's a bit out of your range (it certainly is out of mine!) you can also choose from a variety of packages or single treatments. Mandara Spa offers four types of massages for men, women, and even pregnant women, and some very tempting rituals for every part of your body. A list of services complete with times and costs is available at Atlantis' Web site, www.atlantis.com.

The service here has always been masterful, although for some reason the last time I made an appointment it took them some time to deal with that while I was standing at the reception desk. I always take the opportunity to converse with the locals who provide the services, but they're also good at being quiet if you prefer not to talk. The staff uses high-quality Elemis products and will probably try to sell them to you upon completion of your treatment.

Make a reservation when you arrive at the resort, then arrive 20 minutes in advance of your appointment.

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