Saturday, August 7, 2010

Want to Make the Most of Your Spa Experience? See If You Are You Spa Savvy!

While perusing the latest issue of VIV Magazine, I found this little quiz to be quite helpful in making the most out of your experience and the elements to consider when booking a spa visit. Check it out below and see if it helps you focus on what you want out of your next visit.  It's all in the details!


A. Girlfriend Getaway
If you're planning a bridal toast for your best friend, make sure the spa allows alcohol, advises Angie Day, Spa Director at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ, which has a no-booze policy at some of its resort properties. If you do raise a glass of bubbly, be sure to wash it down with water.  "Massage increases blood flow through your body, which can dehydrate you, so you want to make sure to drink plenty of water 24 hours after a massage," says Day.  You may think to also ask about 2-for-1 treatment specials and ask if common areas like Jacuzzis are big enough to accomodate your group.

B. Rest & Relaxation Solo Pampering
Spas nationwide are starting to offer special nap rooms or services designed to lull you to sleep, according to the International Spa Association.  During a massage, ask for lavender oil to help you doze off, advises spa manager and therapist Ayien Castaneda of The Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua.  Alternately, for a lively energy boost, request a citrus scented oil.  When you're done, remember that you don't have to beat a hasty retreat as soon as you've slipped your robe one - instead, ask about special rooms or an area where you may rest and extend the moment of you time.

C. Glam Up with a Facial for a Big Event
A great bargain can quickly go bust if you opt to purchase the full line of products used in your treatment.  Ask your esthetician for just one recommendation above all others, and don't be afraid to ask why she/he recommends that one product in particular.  Also, don't feel pressured to buy the product right then and there.  You may do better (read: cheaper) by purchasing the product online at a skincare dominant site like SkincareRx or Dermstore.  When you sense a sales pitch coming on, just say "Thanks, I appreciate you recommending that product, but I'm not going to buy it today."


A. Trying Something New
"Every spa has a signature treatment, so ask beforehand what the spa is known for," says Joan Southon, Spa Director at The Resort at the Mountain in Welches, OR.  In recent years, more spas have sought out local ingredients to incorporate into their offerings (think coconut oil, winery grapes, pristine sugary-white sand), the International Spa Association reports.  One trend that seems to be here to stay (at least for a while): hammam, an ancient Middle Eastern cleansing ritual that includes steam, massage and exfoliation.

B. Bargain Pricing
The latest way spas advertise deals is through Facebook, Twitter and website like Spa Week (a MUST check site).  Don't see what you like? Speak up when you book, because spas have more wiggle room than you may think.  Says Southon, "Spas always have discounts, and many times they aren't posted."  Also, remember that 30 is the new 60: Many massages and facials are available in "express" versions for half the time - and cost.  Only indulge once a year? Increase your spa savings in April or October during Spa Week, where $50 gets you a full-service treatment at more than 700 participating spas, or check, another fab site for spotting deals, perks and everyday deals.

C. Atmosphere
One person's ideal spa experience is another's nightmare.  Waiting in nothing but a robe in a coed setting may be fine for one person, but make someone else feel awkward.  On the flip side, you may have envisioned delicious couple time in the Jacuzzi only to find that the hot tubs are in same-sex-only locker rooms.  Avoid surprises: Ask when you book about anything you know will make - or break - the experience for you.

Want to be in and out or do you intend to linger?

A. Body Primping All at Once
Between massages, manis and makeovers, a relaxing getaway can quickly turn into a hurried to-do list.  "It's tempting to try to take advantage of everything, but sometimes you need to give yourself permission to just hit the pause button," says Day.  Rather than rush from one appointment to another, try combining two, like a body scrub and massage.  While it makes sense to get an exfoliation before a wrap or massage, and a facial before a mani or pedi (the better not to muss your nails while positioning yourself in the chair or on the table), the rules aren't set in stone.  "Going to a spa is about honoring yourself, so the only rule you need to follow in terms of treatment order is doing what makes you happy," says Southon.  Spas are sensitive to that, and want you to enjoy the whole experience.

B. One Treatment for Vanity, and One for Sanity
If you can't decide whether it's better to feel or look marvelous, you're in luck:  Many spas now combine treatments so you can get the most beauty for your buck, either by doing an "add on" to a standard treatment or combining two 30-minute appointments into one. "Remember, spas are flexible, so if you don't see it on their menu, ask," says Southon.

C. I'm a Single Treatment Gal/Guy
We get it - you're busy.  But now that you've taken the time to step away from you iPhone (you DID leave the iPhone in your bag, right?), slip into your spa sandals and enjoy.  "Sometimes we have people stay for five hours and that's great - that's what we're here for!" says Southon.  Taking just an extra 10 minutes to relax in the sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi can make you feel like you've gotten two massages for the price of one.  Or spend a few minutes in the lounge with some herbal tea and your favorite magazine or book (oh alright, or Kindle).  A recent study from the University of Sussex in Brighton, Engalnd, found that reading can reduce stress levels by 68%, with even just six minutes of the activity resulting in slower heart rate and eased muscle tension. Why am I not surprised? x

On a scale from 1 to 10, how comfortable are you with receiving a massage or spa treatment?

A. I'm More of a 1 - A Bit Anxious
There are many ways to ease into a massage - if you don't like the idea of flashing your birthday suirt, you can try treatments like shiatsu, Thai massage and reflexology, where you remain clothed.  Also realize that the whole "do I or don't I?" question when it comes to keeping your underwear on is a personal choice.  "Do what feels comfortable for you," says Southon. 

B. I'm around a 5 - I'm OK Naked, but I'm Not Up for Chitchat
Don't feel compelled to have a conversation with your massage therapist; it's perfectly OK to say that you want to zone out. And don't be reluctant to comment about other preferences as well - everything from music choice to room temperature to scented or unscented oils to how light or heavy the massage is can be adjusted to suit you.  "You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't speak up about something during a treatment, as we want you to have the best experience possible," say Southon.  So, tell them how you like it.

C. I'm Pretty Close to a 10
You're a great candidate for bodyscrub, mud or hydrotherapy treatments where you literally hop up on the table without a stitch of clothing (although you should have the option to don disposable undies if available and a preference). If you prefer going completely au naturel in the Jacuzzi, ask beforehand if it's coed so you'll know you need to bring your swimsuit.

source: VIV Magazine (Jul/Aug 2010); Author Megan McMorris

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