- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not that chocoholics need an excuse to indulge, but February, especially around Valentine’s Day, is still particularly sweet, as everything - even facials, as it turns out - contains that magical flavor.

The Sports Club/LA, for example, offers chocolate cream facials and chocolate decadence body wraps for the month of February to help celebrate all things chocolate.

“Chocolate has all those great antioxidants, which help fight free radicals,” says Aidan Kachemov, sounding more like a scientist than a spa manager.

In other words, chocolate is used to rejuvenate the skin.

The facial treatment starts with steam rising toward the face. It’s calming and helps clear the sinuses, which often become parched and irritated in winter’s dry air.

A cleanser and scrub then are applied, followed by a hot spice exfoliant. It stings a little as dead skin is exfoliated with the help of cinnamon and enzymes.

Then it’s finally time for the chocolate cream and mineral mask. It’s on the cold side as it’s applied to the face. It wakes up and yet soothes after the harsher scrub and exfoliation. The chocolate also infuses the air with that unmistakable fragrance, normally associated with things such as Sacher tortes.

It’s delightful, but you’ll be disappointed in the flavor if you happen to sneak a taste off your top lip - this is cocoa without sugar.

“It feels good, doesn’t it?” asks Donna Pavone, spa aesthetician. “You can’t go wrong with chocolate.”

No, you can’t.

After the treatment, which winds down with mists and moisturizing creams, the skin turns slightly rosy because of the exfoliation, which helps increase the blood circulation in the skin. Yet there is nothing so harsh in the treatment that you can’t go straight from the facial to a night on the town, Ms. Pavone says.

On the contrary.

“Optimally, your skin is glowing when you leave,” Ms. Pavone says, adding that the facial treatment is relaxing for both mind and body.

“I have a lot of clients who go to sleep during treatments,” she says and smiles. She doesn’t mind, though.

“I think this is the only time in Washington when people get the sleep,” she adds.

The chocolate decadence body treatment is similar to the facial, featuring, for example, the chocolate cream mineral mask. But it includes a warm chocolate cream infusion at the end of the treatment.

During Valentine’s weekend, customers can follow up their treatments with chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne, which will be available for sale at the spa.

“What else could you want?” Mr. Kachemov asks.

• The Spa at Sports Club/LA, 1150 22nd St. NW, 202/974-6601; 50-minute facials are $115, 50-minute body treatments are $135, 80-minute body treatments are $172.

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