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Ice Cream Spa Treatments for the Preteen Crowd

Having a chocolate-covered strawberry pedicure might not be everyone's idea of a great time. But it's become quite a hit among the 6-to-12-year-old set at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Traverse City, Mich. For that matter, so have manicures and pedicures that smell enticingly like caramel apple, peaches and cream, coconut cream pie and – believe it or not – gummy worms.

Those are some of the services on tap at Scoops – a "spa for kids" developed this spring at the Traverse City Great Wolf. Youngsters who sign up for the service can have their nails buffed, get facials and even have a light bit of makeup done while soaking their feet in fizz baths flavored like their favorite ice cream combinations – while their moms relax in the nearby adult spa.

"The idea was really that you could sign your children up for an ice cream pedicure while you were getting a massage," says Lee MacDonald, director of spa operations at the resort. "But what usually happens is that they see how much fun the kids are having and hang around taking pictures instead."

Based in Wisconsin, Great Wolf Lodge is best known as a chain of indoor waterpark resorts aimed at families with younger children. In the past year the company has been adding other amenities, from miniature golf to high-tech fantasy role-playing games, to attract new customers.

While its network of Aveda spas welcomes customers of all ages (they've had a long-standing "Mother-Daughter Escape" package for years) there haven't really been spa services specifically geared to the preteen set. It was MacDonald's own daughter who first gave her the idea of designing a spa for youngsters. "She's a pretty normal 10-year-old, but even at that age she had what I'd call a strong affinity for the spa experience," McDonald says. "Children like to be pampered as much as any adult."

Soon MacDonald was combing through catalogs in search of themes that might appeal to youngsters, and it wasn't long before she stumbled across a line of ice-cream-scented beauty products from ME! Bath that sounded like exactly the right thing. The idea proved a big success with the first youngsters she tested it on: her own. Even her son got into the act, thanks to the creepy-sounding "gummy worm fizz bath," which tickled his appetite for the bizarre.

With the addition of some ice-cream-parlor-themed furniture and decor – retro swivel stools, for instance, and a pedicure bench shaped like an enormous ice cream sundae – the first Scooops opened in the chain's Traverse City location in March and was such an instant success that Great Wolf has already opened branches in four of its existing spa locations (Williamsburg, Va.; Kansas City, Wisconsin Dells and Mason, Ohio) with plans to start branches in two others later this year.

"The response has been absolutely phenomenal," MacDonald says. "People love it, especially for birthday parties. We're even considering franchising the idea nationally."

Prices for the Scoops Kid Spa range from $35 to $45 for treatments and include a voucher for ice cream at the resort's cafe. Customized birthday packages are available from $120 to $240, based on the number of kids attending. Birthday party packages include the choice of ice cream pedicure/manicure or a facial/makeup touch-up; a birthday crown and ME! Bath products for the birthday girl; an ice cream fizz ball for all birthday participants; a group photo; and a voucher for ice cream at the resort's confectionary cafe.

For more information about the spas and resorts of the Traverse City area, and for help with lodging, dining and other activities, contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-TRAVERSE or online at www.VisitTraverseCity.com.

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