Relaxation Refund

Relaxation Refund

Spas offer several ways to de-stress after Tax Day.

It's said that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. Here's another: stressing out as deadlines for the latter quickly approach. But in Alexandria, a plethora of day spas provide an around-the-corner getaway, and ample options to spending that check from Uncle Sam. A few relaxing spots to know and remember for this, and any other stressful occasion:


Brooke Negron, the manager for Circe, avoids generalizations when talking about the spa and salon. That’s because Circe aims to be as accessible as possible, providing numerous options for the type and duration of services, which in turn creates multiple price levels. Most massages at Circe are available for 30-minute, 60-minute or 80-minute sessions.

Negron, who was a massage therapist for several years before her recent move to Alexandria and into managing, said that most people think of going to the spa as a luxury but “don’t realize how much you need things like this.” She added that with busy schedules, making time for oneself is even more important. Clients often stop by on their way home from work for a short treatment, she said. “Sometimes you need those things to feel human again.”

The Aveda program at Circe emphasizes customization for all sorts of treatments, both in the spa and salon. For Negron, an important part of that is the availability clients have to sample smaller products and shorter services before committing to a higher-priced, longer-lasting alternative. She said this will be especially helpful around tax time, with people facing uncertainty about the results of their returns, not knowing whether they will be cashing a check or cutting one. Negron’s suggested form of relief was the Caribbean spa treatment at Circe, which is available for $135 and lasts 60 minutes.

Circe, at 123 N. Washington St., is available at 703-519-8528 or

Lords & Ladies

About 40 percent of the clientele at Lords & Ladies Salon Spa can be categorized as “lords.”

Owner Sharon Frances’s Del Ray location attracts a young male clientele; her Old Town salon skews slightly older. Both spas offer a complete package of grooming and stress-relief for men. In fact, Frances said one way her male clients can feel less stress is by utilizing the spa’s seven-days-a-week availability to develop a monthly schedule for treatments.

“Men will pre-book their next appointment. Men want to be on a schedule, have their lives regulated. Women can’t always do that because they’re taking care of small children or they’re in a carpool,” she said.

Frances said a typical male treatment would start with a shampoo and cut, which she said runs about $32. Then there’s a body massage treatment, featuring scented oils like tea tree and fresh-crushed herbs. One hour costs $90. Massages can include specialized treatments for sore arms or backs, as well as sports and deep-tissue massages. Lords & Ladies also offers waxing services with homemade wax. And then? “I’d put you in a pedicure station and give you the best pedicure ever,” she said.

The Old Town spa, in a 1930s building refurbished in the 1970s, features several rooms on the second floor, including a full shower and rooms where couples can get a massage then go next door to have lunch together.

Frances said her male clients exhibit an uncommon loyalty to her two salons, and a major factor in that is her attentive and attractive staff. She brings in most of her young stylists from the Graham Webb International Academy in Arlington, where she’s been an educator since 1988.

“Men like young, funky, exciting girls. So [we] put them in here, and it works,” she said. “Men feel very, very comfortable in my salon.”

Lords & Ladies Salon Spa has two locations: the nine-year-old Old Town establishment at 605 Franklin St. (703-549-2662), and the newer salon in Del Ray at 2201 Mount Vernon Ave. (703-518-9909).


“I always wanted to have something like a day spa,” Patricio Recalde said. A longtime massage therapist, he realized his dream last year when he became the owner of NuYu Salon and Spa in late September. He said he enjoyed coming to work every day because of the positive atmosphere at NuYu. “It’s a happy place to pamper the client,” he said. “I like to know that people enjoy it.”

Recalde said he still gives massages at the spa, but is looking forward to moving exclusively to the management side of the business. He will not stop getting massages, though — he said he has to have them. “Massage is part of life,” he said. Back pain from playing tennis first led him to seek massage therapy, and from then the physical and mental benefits kept him returning to the therapist’s table. His experience giving and receiving massages has led him to conclude that massage is much more of an art than science. “Knowing when to move, how to move, how much pressure to apply,” takes finely-tuned skills, and even then, the knowledge is “almost unique for each therapist.”

Going through the taxes for NuYu for the first time this season, Recalde can appreciate the stress the season can cause. He recommends NuYu’s lemon and sugar body smoothie, a 60-minute treatment available for $125.

NuYu will be celebrating its opening under Recalde’s ownership in May. It is located in Cameron Station at 4907 Brenman Park Drive. For more information, call 703-212-6752 or visit

Sugar House

Balancing history with technology is as much a goal at Sugar House Salon and Day Spa as is helping clients relief stress in their lives with relaxing treatments. The business boasts 22 computers in a house that is over 200 years old — originally the building was a sugar refinery. Mary Steidl, a Mount Vernon resident who is the executive director and co-owner of Sugar House, said the house sets the services there apart. “You just can’t reproduce the ambiance,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’re visiting someone’s elegant home. It’s warm — very, very warm and inviting.”

The warmth may be literal; the house has 14 fireplaces. With offices in the basement and three floors of the salon, nail rooms and massage “sweets,” Steidl said between 1,000 and 1,100 clients pass through Sugar House each week. And although she said the technology they employ makes it easier for the staff to assist the clients, Steidl is fairly certain it goes unnoticed by their guests. “They just get up there on those mushy beds and forget everything else,” she said.

Steidl, who has always only been “on the receiving end” of treatments, recommended any of the Sugar House scrubs for after-taxes stress relief; one of her particular favorites is the spa’s chocolate therapy treatment, available for $110. Conveniently, she has an appointment for a massage scheduled shortly after April 17, but it is no coincidence — her massage therapist doubles as her bookkeeper.

Sugar House opened in 1999 and is located at 111 N. Alfred St. in Old Town. Call 703-549-9940 or visit for more information.