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Getting Maximum Value from a Spa
Fingertips for the Client

By Anne Dimon

Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, April/May 2006. Copyright 2006. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

If you are considering your first spa vacation, Anne Dimon, founder and editor of Traveltowellness.com, has some tips for you. "People choose a spa vacation for different reasons than they choose other types of holidays," Dimon says. "They want to relax, renew, refresh, rejuvenate, and return home feeling reenergized."

More than any other type of vacation, a spa holiday is a personal, literally "hands-on" experience, one that first-timers need to feel comfortable with, and one that meets and exceeds the expectations of seasoned spa-goers. Here are 10 tips to help you get your money's worth.

1. Remember the term spa is being used for everything from a two-room facility at the back of a salon, to an expansive destination complete with all-day workshops, lectures, and guided fitness classes. Select a spa that suits your personal tastes, budget, and interests.

2. Look for a spa that offers lots of extras. For instance, some offer workout facilities, wet and dry saunas, aromatherapy rooms, comfortable waiting areas, and complimentary yoga or Pilates classes.

3. Ask about complimentary amenities like robes, slippers, towels, hair dryers, and bath, shower, and beauty products. There should be added touches such as herbals teas, bottled water, fresh fruit, and other healthy goodies.

4. Arrive early and stay late. At most spas, you can book just one treatment and stretch the experience into a full day. Swim, steam in the sauna, work out in the gym, read in the lounge, have your treatment, then do it all again.

5. When you book treatments, ask about packages. Often spas offer a better deal if you book two or three treatments together. Add accommodations and you may even get a better overall deal than booking three treatments individually.

6. When you call, ask the spa receptionist how long a one-hour treatment really is. Yes, when it comes to spas, one hour is not universally 60 minutes -- for some, it's 50 minutes with 10 minutes left for the therapist to refresh the room.

7. Find out what extras a treatment includes. Many spas enhance basic treatments, such as a hand or foot massage included in a facial. Some spas will even offer you the extra creams, lotions, and scrub brushes used during your treatment.

8. Ask if the spa ambiance is carried over into other parts of the resort. If a property truly wants to cater to its spa guests, they'll make the effort to reflect the mood of the spa so there is no harsh reentry into the "real world."

9. Select a spa with experienced therapists. A knowledgeable, nurturing therapist, passionate about her art can make the experience. Research recommendations from those who've been there, or check with a spa association that holds a high standard for membership.

10. Keep in mind that any spa treatment is not simply a case of one size fits all. Every treatment can be, and should be, tailored to your specific needs and preferences. If you don't like something, let the therapist know.

For more information on spas and wellness vacations go to www.traveltowellness.com.




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