Tucked away in the basement of the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco’s bustling Union Square neighborhood, Spa Fusion provides a den of relaxation and renewal. Walk into the chandeliered, gaudily accented lobby of the hotel, and you’ll think you’re in the heart of corporate Americana – filled to the brim with tasteful yet unimaginative trimmings. But take a detour to the elevators, press the button that whisks you to the spa level, and you’re in for a treat – an unpretentious and quiet haven full of the city’s most wholesome and rejuvenating services.
Corporate big-wigs and luxury-seeking vacationers are the mainstays of the ubiquitous Hilton chain, but Spa Fusion’s amenities are appealing enough to overcome the resistance of even to people staunchly dedicated to local flavor. When the elevator door pings open, the sound of soft music and the neutral textures of wall to wall carpeting provide a pleasant counter to all the activity right above our heads. As you walk down the hushed corridors past the waiting area, behind all the doors are innumerable amenities – couples’ massage rooms, hydrotherapy rooms with whirlpools, and scrub treatment rooms with attachable showers that rinse you off as you’re reclining.
Spa Fusion’s medley of beautifying, detoxifying treatments blends eastern know-how with western panache. Their massage menu offers everything from reflexology, to a Chinese pressure point technique that restores the flow of energy, to water massage. The facial treatments are a stylish blend of simple but effective botanical formulas. If you’re swinging by on your lunch hour, they offer 30-minute peels that’ll have you glowing for hours. Body treatments like The Fog Lifter combine warmed seaweed body masks – for slimming and detoxifying – with a massage of essential oils that moisturizes as you bask.
Every spa has its treats and signature offerings, and here are my findings on Spa Fusion:
Cucumber & Cold Stone Green Tea Redness Relief Facial
The synergistic ingredients of this facial are brilliant: cucumber, green tea and cold stones. Most people know that cucumber is one of nature’s most vital skincare boosters. Cut up a few slices and make a salve for your face after a normal beauty regiment, and you’ll fully experience its hydrating, nourishing, and astringent properties. The Chinese have used green tea for centuries to combat acne and other skin problems. Having cold stones rubbed over one’s face feels amazing – and it’s great for tightening pores. Overall, the blend of green tea and cucumber extracts helps restore the skin’s protective and natural acid mantle. Pair the gentle, non-abrasive ingredients with the cold stone massage, and it’s 80 minutes of one of the best stress-zapping facials you’re likely to get.
In a mere 50 minutes, this massage is perhaps more therapeutic than any other massage I’ve ever received. Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice used by acupuncturists, in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced by suctioning out air, so that the skin and superficial muscle layer are drawn into and held in the cup.
Cupping is applied to acupuncture points and regions of the body affected by pain to help soften and loosen tight muscles. The Spa Fusion version employs gliding cupping, in which the cup is moved while the suction of skin is active. My therapist cautioned me that it would be an intense sensation, but being a fan of deep tissue therapy, I was in nirvana the entire time. One caveat – while you’ll emerge detoxified and pain-free, cupping sometimes leaves marks on the body.
Spa Fusion’s Marketing Manager, Carolyn Jo Gutierrez, mentioned that the Pacific Heights was one of her favorite offerings at the spa, but if I were planning to receive it, I should plan on going straight to bed afterwards. I can’t say she was wrong. This is one of the spa’s signature hydrotherapy rituals, which combines the centuries-old custom of healing baths with a languorous aromatherapy massage. After taking a dip in the hydrotherapy tub, which boasts over 200 massaging air and water jets, and being churned around in a tranquil blend of lavender milk and mineral water, I was further spoiled with a bergamot-infused aromatherapy massage.
You’ll want to top off a visit to the spa with a drink at the Art Deco-inspired Cityscape Bar and Restaurant on the 46th floor of the hotel, or a stopover at the health club sauna to complete your pampering before you dive back into the neighborhood’s vast array of galleries, theaters, restaurants and shops.