Among the manifold casualties of the pandemic: spas, and their euphoria-inducing array of body treatments. It seems easy enough to dismiss the impact of a rigorous, deep-tissue massage, but for those of us missing routine physical touch in our lives, the skin hunger is real. According to science, a lack of touch can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, body issues, and even death. To perish at all without so much as a final shoulder rub would be a tragedy.

As spas across the country reopen, many are offering new and innovative—albeit contactless—services to their coronavirus-weary clientele. But for those whose satisfaction has always derived from the sensation of another human working on one’s body, could a hands-off trip to the spa be as restorative and fulfilling?


At the Hāwanawana Spa, at the Four Seasons Resort on the tiny Hawaiian island of Lanai, there’s the Yo-Massage self-care treatment (as in, do it yourself), a private class on the art of restorative, mindful self-massage. For a good pummeling, several spas now offer handheld Hypervolt contactless devices to deliver powerful percussive massages at adjustable frequencies. These massage guns have been routinely touted by sports therapists for their benefits (pain relief, muscle relaxation, and improved circulation), but, again, self-administration requires a certain amount of manual labor that many vacationers are not necessarily conditioned to undertake.

Reiki therapy at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa is achieved with no physical contact.

Meanwhile, some spas are opting for less gadgety, low-tech touchless offerings, such as D.I.Y. seaweed baths, Reiki, and guided meditation. And yet it seems a rather foolish indulgence to pay someone to draw your bath, light some candles, and leave you to it. Nestled up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Old Edwards Inn and Spa now provides a whole-body tune-up, in which tuning forks are struck and placed on specific points throughout the body to stimulate the neural network and combat adrenal fatigue.

Depending on how “woo-woo” you want to get, a tuning fork’s microcurrents can also tap into one’s biofield to reveal various imbalances, although improvements in digestion and circulation (also common outcomes), as well as the ability to more fully tune out while a practitioner tunes in, are attractive proposals on their own.

Very Good Vibrations

Maintaining a healthy social distance is hardly a concern at the ocean-facing Carillon Miami Wellness Resort’s sprawling 70,000-square-foot facility, where high-tech equipment dominates the newly launched Touchless Wellness Experiences menu. The vibro-acoustic, electromagnetic, and infrared (VEMI) therapy beds there have become a popular choice among the clientele for their ability to induce a deep meditative state in minutes, while radiant heat warms the body from the inside out—not unlike moderate exercise. After a year of pandemic stress—and stress-eating—burning extra calories while practically napping is truly a novel luxury.

Thanks to VEMI beds, good vibrations abound at the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort.

What’s more, every machine and device at the Carillon Miami is available to purchase for at-home use, although I’m not sure the vemi’s neon, Tron-like appearance suits the aesthetics of the average home. Still, one-percenters have done more outlandish things during these exceptional times than spend $120,000 on a cryotherapy chamber.

After a year of pandemic stress—and stress-eating—burning extra calories while practically napping is truly a novel luxury.

For those seeking effortless serenity, the opportunity to Zen out at Zadún, a new Ritz-Carlton Reserve property on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, is an inviting one. The resort’s mostly open-air Spa Alkemia is a shrine to its lush, naturistic surroundings, and yet true bliss may be most easily achieved while reclining on the floor of its Savasana Sound Room. The one-of-a-kind, post-treatment relaxation space emits tactile sound waves from below to open up neuro-cranial pathways and lull guests into profoundly relaxing states. Along with its soothing, dulcet murmurs, semi-precious gemstones matching the colors and order of the chakra are embedded within the walls to maintain and restore balance. It’s no massage, but, at the very least, it’s survival.

Laura Neilson is a New York–based writer