A spa day makes an excellent girls’ weekend getaway.
Last weekend, I headed out of town with R and C. We drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to enjoy a spa day and celebrate R’s birthday. Now, I am not a spa expert, but I have had the opportunity to try out a few and I find it a wonderful way to bond with my girlfriends. Sure, I enjoy getting outside and going on adventures. But a spa day can be a nice change of pace and a good option for girl time, self-pampering and relaxation.
My experiences at different spas across the country (and overseas) have taught me some valuable lessons that I figured I would share with you. Below is a list of cities I have enjoyed a spa day in and the lessons I have learned at them.
Spa Day Lessons from Reno, Nevada
My first, true, spa day experience was at the Peppermill Resort Hotel in Reno, Nevada. I was so green I feel like I did almost everything wrong. But I learned a ton and had a good enough time to try it again. Spa Toscana was offering discounts to conference attendees like myself. I had almost six hours to kill so I figured, why not?
I made an appointment and showed up the recommended 30 minutes prior to my scheduled treatment. A nice lady gave me a tour and provided a robe and slippers. Then she told me that someone would find me when it was time for my appointment. I was a little dubious about that bit of information since this spa was large (four floors) with a lot of amenities. But I took her at her word and immediately jumped in the hot tub. I have no idea why I made that choice with just 20 minutes until my appointment, but I did. Sure enough, 20 minutes later another nice lady walked up to the hot tub and asked me to follow her. I jumped out, climbed into my robe and proceeded to follow her to a waiting room…dripping the entire way there.
It is a good idea to have a spa itinerary…
It dawned on me, a little too late, that I maybe should have saved the wet swimsuit experience for after my treatment. I was shown a waiting and asked to sit for a few minutes. A few minutes was all it took to soak the back of my robe and the cushioned chair I was sitting in. Not only was I embarrassed (thankfully it was dimly lit in the room), but I was quite cold at this point. In addition, I had scheduled a foot and scalp treatment so there was no obvious reason for me to remove my wet swimsuit!
I met my specialist/technician and we talked about my treatment. I finally swallowed my pride and told her about my cold and wet status. She was SO nice about it. She brought me a dry robe to change into and then she put my wet swimsuit into her towel warmer. By the time my treatment was over, I had a dry swimsuit on my hands and was feeling warm and toasty.
- If you are going to get wet before your treatment, make sure you leave enough time to dry off and change.
- If you are going to use the hot tub, pool, sauna or steam room before a treatment, I recommend you put your swimsuit on before leaving your house. This is not that big of a deal, I just find it more efficient.
- If you plan to use whatever amenities the spa offers (and I recommend you do), then you will want to schedule your day accordingly. You can arrive early to take advantage of the amenities or you can enjoy them after your treatment. Or you can do both!
Spa Day Lessons from Bali, Indonesia
R wrote an entire post about our spa experience in Bali, Indonesia. It is a day I remember fondly…with a lot of laughter. R, S and I had signed up for a five-hour spa day experience. It was very affordable (I think around $50 each) and included multiple treatments and lunch. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. But it was a long day (too long in my opinion) and came with several surprises. We definitely learned some valuable lessons about spa days in foreign countries.
- Just because you are planning a spa day does not mean you need to actually spend the whole day there.
- Do as much research ahead of time as you can so you have a better idea of what to expect.
- Be prepared for things to go down a little differently in foreign countries. This may seem obvious, but we were still surprised by some of the experiences we had.
Spa Day Lessons from Jackson Hole, Wyoming
I have a desk job. I try to sit up straight but often find myself hunched over instead. So, I try to schedule a massage once a month to work out the cricks in my neck, back and shoulders. Because of this, a good massage is not much of a novel experience for me. However, I have no complaints when I combine a massage with a spa day. That being said, it can be really fun to try out a new or unusual treatment when visiting the spa.
For my most recent spa day experience in Jackson Hole, I signed up for a thermal mud wrap from The River Spa. Boy was it a weird experience (there was mud everywhere!). However, it was also really unique and made the entire day that much more enjoyable and novel. I would definitely sign up for something like that again. C also signed up for a treatment she has never had before and was quite pleased with the results.
- A spa day is a safe and fun place to get out of your comfort zone. Try something new and it will add to your overall experience.
Spa Day Lessons from Las Vegas, Nevada
I am not the biggest fan of Vegas. I have had to travel there more times than I can count for work and I am over it. However, I cannot deny that I have had some great times there with my girlfriends. It does make an easy weekend getaway and incorporating a spa day into that getaway is pretty simple. The nice thing about Vegas is that there are a plethora of spas to choose from, resulting in bargains for spa treatments. Groupon and Travelzoo are two great websites to look for spa deals in Las Vegas. (Note: you will want to check to make sure the spa can accommodate your dates and times before buying something online.)
The last time I visited Las Vegas, my girlfriends and I picked up a Groupon for the Drift Spa and Hammam (yes, they have a hammam which is really cool and unique). We spent a good part of the day enjoying the amenities and avoiding the Strip. It made for a delightful experience and wonderful girls’ weekend.
- If you are headed to a big city like Las Vegas, be sure to check for specials online with Groupon, Travelzoo and the like. You can often find really great deals to really nice spas.
- Always check with the spa to make sure they can accommodate you before purchasing any kind of spa package.
Spa Day Lessons from Phoenix, Arizona
One October a couple of years ago, I visited the Spa at the Boulders with two of my girlfriends. We got a good deal on Groupon and I thoroughly enjoyed my time basking in the Arizona sunshine. Even in places (like Arizona) with fairly consistent weather, the day you choose for your spa day may be affected by two things: weather and price.
On a more recent trip to Arizona, my girlfriends and I were planning on enjoying a spa day. The chance for cold weather was slim, but it happened and we did not want to be outside, hanging by the pool, in 60-degree temperatures. Thankfully, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Arizona in addition to a spa day. But it was a lesson to me that weather really can affect your spa day plans.
Timing can also affect your costs. Winter is busy season in Phoenix, Arizona. That means it may be difficult to find good deals on spa packages. Or perhaps you plan to visit in the summer. You are pretty much guaranteed a good deal in August. Personally, I do not think that would be worth going to Arizona in August, but it would be a nice perk if you already had to be there for something (or you are a local).
- The time of year you visit can affect your spa day experience. If possible, visit a busy spa in the off-season and look for deals.
- Make sure the amenities you want to use are not closed during the time of year you want to visit.
Spa Day Lessons from Orlando, Florida
My friend searched high and low to find a spa in the Orlando area that could accommodate four people at the same time. Turns out, the spas in that area are small. We figured that because Orlando is such a tourist destination, we would not have any trouble finding a place. Well, we were wrong. We ended up at The Woodhouse Day Spa and it was a very nice experience. But it was definitely on the small side. There was a small sauna in the locker room, but no hot tub. And we were limited on what treatments we could choose (e.g. they were unable to accommodate four massages so one of us had to get pedicure instead). This seemed to be the theme for all of the spas we looked at in Orlando.
It will be easier to find decent-sized spas in certain cities and towns—places with resorts are good options. If there are just two of you, that is probably fine. But if you have a larger group (something like a bachelorette party), some places are going to have a harder time accommodating you.
- Some cities and towns will have good spas, but they may be small.
- Do your research and do not make assumptions.
Spa Day Lessons from Boise, Idaho
Finding the right spa, or any spa for that matter, can be the biggest challenge to your spa day experience. After just a couple of spa experiences, I find I am much more picky about where I spend my money. There are certain amenities I need the facility to provide in order for me to feel like I got my money’s worth. I am looking for an experience and if the facility cannot provide that in addition to a spa treatment, I would rather go to my usual spot and get a massage for a much more reasonable price.
For a spa day to be legit for me, I need there to be decent amenities. I need a robe and slippers, a locker room, showers and beverages. It also doesn’t hurt if there is product I can use to get ready. Every spa is going to be different and I try not to get my expectations up too high. But I do not think it is asking too much to expect certain amenities if I am going to pay spa prices.
It is a good idea to manage your spa expectations…
My hometown of Boise is not a resort town so finding a spa with the kind of amenities I like has, so far, proved futile. I was able to find a “spa” that met some of my requirements, but it was not quite the experience I was hoping for. My cousin and I bought Groupons for a 30-minute facial with a 30-minute private hot tub and sauna session. When we arrived, they provided us with a cup of delicious tea. They also supplied robes and slippers and they took very good care of us. However, there were no locker rooms to change in and no showers to clean up in after our treatments. I left feeling incomplete. The price however, was very affordable so I cannot complain too much. I guess I will just have to enjoy fully equipped spas when I am traveling.
- Each spa is different. Do your homework and set your expectations accordingly.
- Only pay spa prices if you are sure you are going to get the experience you are looking for.
A spa day makes an excellent girls’ weekend getaway or road trip activity. Pampering oneself and bonding with friends cannot be overstated in my opinion. With a few lessons learned, you will be on your way to having the best spa day experience possible.