You’ve decided to treat yourself to a day (or more!) at a spa. How do you get beyond the gorgeous photos you’ll see online and find out if this is the place for you?
“What a lot of people do is just walk into a spa and think they’re going to feel great when they leave,” said Mary Bemis, editorial director of Insider’s Guide to Spas. But that’s not always the case, so do some homework before you choose.
Start by pondering why you want to go. Is this a celebratory girlfriends’ getaway or a solo relaxation retreat? Do you want to improve your diet and move your body, or just chill out and shrink those pores? How do you want to feel when you leave?
Next, call the spa director and ask the following questions.
1. Who does the spa cater to? Singles? Couples? Families?
2. Do they supply robes and slippers?
3. What product lines do they use?
4. What certifications do their therapists hold?
There’s no bulletproof way to test a spa’s quality before you go, but Bemis says destination spas that cater to guests for a few days or weeks are likely to have the most experienced staff. At hotel spas, look for a package of services so you have a more curated experience.
If you have a sub-par treatment, the wet room can still save the day. This is where the sauna, hot tub, showers and relaxation area are located, and you should ask about them before booking.
“That makes or breaks a spa. They’re one of the best places to chill out and get the benefits,” Bemis said.
Most spas make these available free to anyone booking a treatment, and many offer access for a day-use fee to those who don’t.
Start with 15 minutes of heat in the steam room or hot tub, followed by a cool shower or cold plunge, then a brief rest – then do this twice more.
“That’s free, and that’s really, really beneficial for you,” Bemis said. “It’s reviving. It really is.”