Soak away stress

Crank up those bath jets, baby. Josie Feria, of Miami’s water-centric Lapis spa, spills her secret recipe for procuring the ultimate time in the tub.

Baths are hot these days. People are flooding water-park-like Korean spas, while countless hotels — from the St. Regis in San Francisco to the Four Seasons in the Maldives — employ bath butlers. There are even entire spas devoted to bathing rituals and the healing properties of water, such as Lapis, a hydro-centric spa inside Miami Beach’s posh Fontainebleau hotel. "Water is so beneficial because of the variety of ways it helps you relax — physically, mentally and then emotionally," says Josie Feria, director of spa operations. "The warmth eases muscles, and, because you become more buoyant in water, it takes pressure off of your body." As for the mental part, where better to quietly meditate and destress than the relative distraction-less quiet of your bathroom and solitude of the tub? (Just be sure to not invite your Blackberry or iPad.)

Ready to be reborn a bath addict? Click through the gallery above for Feria’s tips and must-haves for creating the ultimate soaking experience.

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  • Scented Oil

    Scented Oil

    Choose a scented bath oil. "Floral scents like lavender, jasmine, iris and rose are sumptuous and associated with relaxation," Feria says. Diptyque Precious Oils for Body & Bath mixes three of the most skin-nourishing oils around — almond, argan and macadamia nut — with a calming and just-flowery-enough iris aroma. ($78, available at diptyque.com)

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  • Bath Robe

    Bath Robe

    Nothing jolts you out of a zen state like going from a warm, luxe bath to a measly, threadbare robe. "Get a plush, terry robe that will make you feel instantly enveloped and comforted." Try the Missoni Giacomo Hooded Cotton Bathrobe. ($345, available at net-a-porter.com)

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  • Body Scrub

    Body Scrub

    "Most people are used to being active all the time, so when they get in the tub their minds start racing and they don't know what to do,'" Feria says. "So for the first part of the bath, give yourself an activity like massasing in a body scrub." Salt and sugar scrubs steeped in an oil base buff away dryness and leave behind slick and supple moisturized skin. Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish is packed with natural oils (sweet almond, jojoba, apricot seed and evening primrose) and natural botanical extracts. ($65, available at fresh.com)

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  • Eye Pads

    Eye Pads

    Need some more help settling in? "Anything that forces you to close your eyes is great," Feria says of using eye pads in the tub. The perfect pick: A set of fridge-chilled DuWop iGels, which are seeped in botanical extracts that help soothe and de-puff stressed-out lids and undereyes. ($25, available at shop.duwop.com)

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  • Bath Salts

    Bath Salts

    Tough workout? Bath salts are like external muscle relaxants. "If you have soreness, pain or swelling, they reduce inflammation and stiffness, plus help detoxify skin and increase circulation," says Feria. Try Molton Brown's Seamoss Stress Relieving Hydrosoak, a mixture of mineral-rich dead sea salts and seaweed that manages to feel simultaneously therapeutic and luxurious. To boost the bath’s aromatherapeutic effects, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the water. Feria likes juniper and eucalyptus, which are fragrant but not overly flowery, pungent or cloying. ($28, available at moltonbrown.com)
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  • Candles


    Bright bathroom lights tell your body it’s go-time — not bath time, Feria says. Instead, light a few candles and place them around the room and on the edge of the tub. These Little Flower Candles from Red Flower are perfectly petite, basking your bath in glowy candlelight without taking over your space ($12 each, available atredflower.com).

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  • Cold Water

    Cold Water

    If you’ve set your water temp right (somewhere between steamy and very warm), you should be feeling quite toasty in the tub. "A warm bath raises your body’s core temperature, so you’ll start sweating. Before getting into the tub, set a bowl of ice water and a washcloth next to you and use it as a cold compress on your forehead to keep you comfortable and in the tub long enough for the salts to work," Feria says. "I also grab a big bottle of San Pellegrino and force myself to drink the whole thing to hydrate." ($2, available at your local gourmet grocer)

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  • Bath Sheets

    Bath Sheets

    "After a bath, you want to keep the relaxation going," Feria says. The Egyptian cotton Abyss & Habidecor Super Pile Bath Sheets make lounging post-soak feel like the necessity it should be. ($141, available at abchome.com)

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