Blame it on the worker-bee mentality. For many of us, the better part of the year is spent staring at a computer screen, typing e-mail after memo after e -mail. Lunch, if time allows, is scarfed down, one hand on a sandwich, the other navigating the Web.
Enjoying a few hours of daylight, especially at this time of year, is a rare occurrence. And a real vacation? Fuhgeddaboudit . Maybe a weekend here and there, but by the time you settle in, the BlackBerry is vibrating and before you know it, you're in front of a computer again.
All of this results in one cranky and stressed-out group of Americans -- and a booming spa industry. According to the International Spa Association, in 2006 more than 32 million people visited a day, resort, or destination spa in the United States, generating $9.7 billion in revenue and a growth rate of 9 percent.
Destination spas are popping up (the luxurious Lodge at Woodloch recently opened in Pennsylvania), while established favorites like Canyon Ranch, Red Mountain, and Miraval continue to expand and entice visitors to surrender themselves for days or weeks at a time.
Yet, destination spas might seem a little out of reach for many people in terms of both time and money. For some, carving out even an hour for a standard Swedish massage is a challenge. Luckily, you don't need a minimum of 60 minutes or a week's vacation to achieve rejuvenation. More and more salons and day spas around Boston are offering abbreviated treatments of 30 minutes or less, allowing for much needed relief without taxing your schedule or your pocketbook.
Here's a sampling of services for folks on the go:
Despite the no-cellphone policy, the front portion of the salon is abuzz with people getting their hair washed, trimmed, and colored. But the chatter dissipates to an almost meditative hum as you enter one of two sage green and brick treatment rooms, separated from the salon by a curtained glass door.
Don't let the treatment menu on the website fool you: The 15-minute Swedish massage ($15) doesn't take place in a chair, but on a comfy massage table , allowing you to kick off your shoes and fall under the spell of the tasteful ambient music .
Before the massage begins, the therapist looks over the medical form all clients complete in order to evaluate what parts of the body need attention. For example, if you note that you work on a computer all day, she'll knead kinks in the hands and arm muscles in addition to whatever else ails you.
When you go to pay, nourishing snacks and water await, as does a 25 percent off coupon for first-timers to come again.
33 Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge; 617-868-7800; carriagehousesalon.com.
The location of the aptly named Jetsetter Spa is both its strength and its downfall. Sitting in a contemporary storefront right before security, the spa is easily accessible, though the tranquillity of the treatments is disturbed somewhat by the repeated announcements that travelers are about to go through security and must place liquids in a Ziploc bag.
Still, a 10-minute chair massage ($15) makes taking off your shoes and walking through the metal detectors a much more Zen-like experience.
Also on the menu: a 25-minute Cloud Nine manicure or pedicure ($30, including a hot or cold scented wrap, quick dry polish change, and arm or leg massage) . That's as good a reason as any for arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare.
300 Terminal C, Upper Level, Logan International Airport; 617-567-7979; jetsetterspa.com.
Natural or not, you cannot help but be overcome by the scent of hair treatments as soon as the elevator doors open to the fourth floor. Thankfully, you are whisked into the stairwell and directed one flight up to the muted and serene day spa, where all manner of treatments are available, including the popular aromatherapy pedicure.
As for quick-hit massages, there's the 20 Minute Body Break ($40, a fully-clothed chair massage "designed for people who spend a lot of time on the phone, computer, or just plain sitting") and the 25-minute Facial Massage ($55).
The latter has you lying topless, covered by a wraparound robe , on a heated body-contouring bed. Once your skin is gently cleansed, the therapist proceeds to massage essential oils into your face, neck, and shoulders in circular, wave-like motions, finding knots and pressure points in the most unlikely places (under the ear lobe, along the jaw and hair line, etc.). After finishing with a cooling eye gel, your face will feel so revived, that no amount of wind, rain, or snow can put a damper on its shine.
37 Newbury St. ; 617-424-0250; dchristopher.com.
Here in the funky white and electric lime green emporium complete with a disco ball, glittery salon chairs, and a beaded silver curtain, you can choose from among five 15-minute Quickie Smooth Strokes Massages ($25).
There's the basic In the Zone ; the G Flex Therapy (a.k.a. reflexology) ; the migraine antidote Head Rush ; Unzip Your Drive , aimed at the computer geek ; and, given its location on Newbury Street, the Shop-aholic.
This last one takes place sitting on a white leather banquette leaning back on plush, white faux-fur pillows, while a therapist clad in black works out all the kinks in the calves, shins, and toes. There's no New Age music here; expect sounds as trendy as the surroundings. If time allows, pull up a futuristic stool to the Beauty Bar, where you can undergo one of five Quickie G-O2 Facials .
35 Newbury St . ; 617-267-4772; grettastyle.com.
Contact Hillary Geronemus at email@example.com.