Monday, April 11, 2011

The Spa Life

On Saturday, after successfully running four outdoor miles for the first time since my injury (plus 5 on the treadmill), I treated myself to a pedicure.  It reminded me of this blog that I wrote a while back, which I hadn't posted yet.  Enjoy!


When I used to think about vacationing, the first glorious thoughts that came to mind were sunshine, too much food, and fruity cocktails. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that way.  In fact, I'm fairly certain that the international symbol for "holiday" should be a pina colada with a little pink umbrella in it. 

I still hold tightly to the virtue that hard-earned time off from work should involve some splurges, but the "new me" can't go overboard without a little guilt creeping in.  So, instead of a second trip through the buffet line, nowadays I like to spend my vacations doing serious "me-time" relaxation.  And that means checking out the hotel or resort's spa.

I always shyed away from going to the spa while vacationing because I thought it was expensive.  And--absolutely--some of the prices for services at spas can be outrageous.  $250 for a massage?!  However, what a lot of people don't know is that you can get a basic spa usage package at most hotels and resorts for $20-$40.  While features can vary, usually this fee includes use of the fitness center, unlimited refreshments, a robe and slippers, a locker and use of the spa's steamrooms, saunas, hottubs and showers.

What to expect

Spas are usually single-sex, so if you're hoping for couple time, you're out of luck. There are some spas now that offer areas for men and women to intermingle, so make sure to ask ahead of time to know whether you will be able to meet up with your sweetie once inside.  If you are going to go into a single-sex spa as a couple, make sure to pre-arrange a meeting time and place for when you are done, because cell phones are forbidden or frowned-upon in many spas and therefore reception may be limited.

Upon entering the spa, you'll be given a tour and issued a locker, a robe and a pair of plastic slippers.  You don't have to wear the slippers, although if you're going in and out of the wet areas, you'll want to wear something on your feet for your safety and as a courtesy to the other guests.  While a spa robe is provided, some spa patrons will choose to not wear any clothing while using the treatment areas, while others will choose to wear a bathing suit.  Don't be alarmed by the naked people.

The three standard free treatment areas in a spa typically consist of a whirlpool hottub, a eucalyptus steam room, and a dry sauna.  You should take off your robe when entering the steam room or sauna, otherwise you will get way too hot (and the hottub as well, but that was obvious).  Most spas have a hook to hang your robe on right outside the treatment room.  Make sure to grab one or two towels as you enter; you should lay one towel down under you (for comfort and for hygiene) and wrap one around you for modesty if you've decided to go al fresco.

Between each hot room, you may consider cooling yourself down with an ice towel or liquid refreshment, which are abundantly available at most spas.  Some spas also have a cold pool, which feels great after the sweat bath.  After enjoying the wet areas, you may want to finish your spa experience by heading to the showers.  Most spas have shampoo, conditioner, body wash and shaving cream in the shower, and fresh razors are available too.  After you get out, head to the vanity area, where you can use a variety of body lotions, deoderant, hair brushes and blow dryers.  All are complimentary, and if there is something else you need, you can just ask one of the spa attendants.

Living the Spa Life Every Day
While going to the spa is a relaxing luxury, there are some easy ways to recreate your spa experience once the vacation is over.  Next time you plan to take a bath, close all the doors of the bathroom while filling up the tub to get some steam going.  Buy a Vicks Vaporizer for $16 at Walmart to get that same eucalyptus steam room effect.  And, don't forget the ice towels... simply fill up a bowl with ice water and roll up a few washclothes for that post-bath cool down.

Slice some cucumbers for your eyes and cover with your ice towel for a spa-like facial treatment.  To top it off, make the perfect spa cocktail by slicing up some lemons, limes and oranges into a pitcher of water.  With these simple tips, you can bring a little bit of that spa trip home with you!

1 comment:

E. Jane said...

It sounds lovely and an experience I want to have in the near future. good spa tips too.