Spa Treatments Are Going Virtual

Virtual reality is the hottest new way to relax

Rebecca Nelson


Illustration: Jon Han

TThe first time Ralonda Dittmar went to Esqapes Immersive Relaxation, a new virtual reality spa, she was so relaxed exploring a beautiful garden, so captivated by the vivid imagery of rippling water and swaying branches, she thought that her 30-minute experience lasted for hours.

Dittmar, 48, had been stressed with work and constant travel, and needed some time for herself. So she drove to a nondescript office building in Los Angeles, chose her virtual world, and settled into a state-of-the-art massage chair for a full-body massage. The experience led her through a series of deep breathing exercises, and then left her to explore the “Asian palace garden” above a babbling brook. (She also fell into the best sleep she’d had in a long time.) “It really is an escape,” Dittmar says. “It was a mini-vacation.”

Esqapes, which opened in July 2019, is part of a new trend in wellness: virtual reality as a tool for deeper relaxation. There’s also Relax VR, which sells spas special virtual reality (VR) headsets preloaded with calming landscapes and guided meditations. Mindful Touch, from the Barcelona-based Natura Bisse, offers personalized VR spa experiences that encourage “thoughtful awareness.” Sure, it’s a play for tech-obsessed millennials, but is it more than just a…