Is a Spa Trip in Your Future?

 Do the words “pamper” and “comfort” catch your eye when you scan the travel magazine?  Do you fantasize about being wrapped in a warm, white cotton robe and peacefully floating through the day? Are you on the verge of saying, “But I’m doing it for me!”  Then you’re probably ready for a spa vacation. 

 Whether you’re looking for a haven of luxury or hoping to ease the tension in your lower back, there’s probably a spa close by that can meet or exceed your every expectation.  How does one go about selecting a spa?  How do you know what’s the best spa for you, your budget, and your needs?

Consider these questions before booking your next spa vacation.

Do you want to go to a Destination, Resort or Day Spa?  The first step in selecting a spa is to determine what type of spa best suits your needs and budget.  Spa groups such as Spa Finder and Destination Spa Group are good starting points for those unfamiliar with the wide range of spas available.  In general, a destination spa is one that focuses solely on life enhancement through common health interests.  Guests at destination spas enjoy lectures by noted experts, one-on-one counseling and a total focus on the health aspects of spa retreats.  Resort spas, in contrast, may attract vacationers of all sorts, including those who play golf, go on day trips to surrounding hot spots, or work in considerable “down” time.  Both destination spas and resort spas provide overnight accommodations. Day spas are just what their name implies, they are for “day” goers.  They usually focus on the four basics:  nail, hair, body and facial services and because of their size, often lack the quietness and retreat-like atmosphere of destination or resort spas.

Do you speak the language?   Reading through the list of services at a spa can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first visit or they recommend that you book appointments weeks in advance.  What’s a lymphatic drainage massage and will it hurt?  Is la stone therapy and a hot rock massage the same thing?  Spas woo guests with exotic services with fancy names for marketing purposes and to create an aura of mystique and adventure.  You can be wrapped in mud using volcanic ash, grape leaves doused in vintage wine, and seaweed from the Pacific Ocean.  Or you can have a really relaxing, gentle pedicure and enjoy knowing you have happy feet for the first time all year.  Don’t hesitate to explore something new and different on the menu.  Just make sure to tell the therapist that you’re a first-timer and keep an open mind.   

Do you want relaxation of high-speed action?  — Before selecting a spa, envision your perfect spa day and get a good idea of how you want to spend your energy.  Assuming you have some.   Do you enjoy new challenges and want to sign up for every kickboxing class and morning hike?  Do you like to play tennis or a daily round of golf?  Or is your soul longing for serene music and the comfort of a gentle waterfall?   Although most spas offer a wide range of services, they each have the equivalent of a corporate culture.  Some promote a philosophy of mindfulness and offer services that strive for a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit while others dance to an urban beat and feature express services for the busy downtown executive.  Do some homework before your decide.  Read the glossy brochures and scan the enticing websites.  But more importantly, ask someone who has ventured there before you.  

 Do you have a spa buddy or going solo?  — Depending upon the time of year, you may wish to take a solo trip to a remote retreat to calm your mind or simply find some time away from your job, family and the daily grind.  Going to a spa solo can lead to new friendships and adventures that wouldn’t have come along if you weren’t alone.  Going solo will also provide you ample time to journal, catch up on your sleep and enjoy some meditative quiet time.  If you go alone, make sure someone at the spa is aware that you’re traveling alone and look for any opportunity to meet someone new.   

Do you want to break the bank or limit your budget? – No doubt about it, spa services can be pricey.  A basic Swedish massage can run you anywhere from $55 at a day spa in Middle America to $140 at a posh-resort in Phoenix.  This is truly an industry where the prices are set to what the market will bear.  Look for ways to trim the fat on your bill while dropping a few pounds.  First, look for off-season specials at destination spas when rates can drop by as much as 50 percent.  Or find a spa buddy who wants to split expenses; like other recreation spots, it’s cheaper to book a double, than a single.  And finally, tell those you love to give the gift of good health and wellness at holidays and anniversaries  – a gift certificate to your favorite spa!

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