What kind of spa?
With so many different spas around, you want to choose the right one for your needs. Most spas fall into one of these three categories:
1. The health spa
If you want a few days of blissful rest, relaxation and pampering, this is for you. It’s also the right choice if you want to detox or try a therapeutic treatment for aches and pains.
What to expect: Most health spas are for adults only, so you’ll find yourself immersed in peace and tranquility from the minute you arrive. You can embrace the relaxing atmosphere by wearing your white robe and slippers to breakfast, lunch and treatments, although at most spas – not all – you do need to dress for dinner (we’re not talking cocktail dresses, just smart-casual).
Forget all about lettuce leaves and carrot juice – that’s just nonsense! You’ll find the food is fresh, healthy and there’s lots of it, plus there will always be something to suit every dietary need. Smoking isn’t encouraged at any health spa, and is definitely banned from bedrooms and public areas, but you should be able to find a designated smoking area if you’re desperate. And it’s not all bad news, because at most spas you can order wine with your dinner!
2. The hotel spa
Choose the right location and this could be the ideal place for a romantic weekend with your partner, a sister-bonding break or a fun few days away with the girls. You can pamper yourself silly, while enjoying the freedom to paint the town red or glam up for an evening of fine dining in the hotel restaurant.
What to expect: Unlike health spas, it’s not normally the done thing to swan around the hotel in your white robe – it’s probably best to stick to something comfy like relaxed pants and takkies. The spa is usually adjacent to the hotel, so be prepared to have to go outside to get to the treatment area for your pampering. Generally, you’ll find a good menu of luxury face and body treatments on offer at hotel spas, but there won’t be an army of therapists available, so it’s worth booking your facials, massages and manicures before you arrive to avoid disappointment. Facilities should include a pool, steam room or sauna and Jacuzzi at the very least, but some spa hotels may organise outdoor activities, like golf or watersports – sounds like the perfect way to keep your partner amused while you relax!
3. The day spa
No time or money for a whole weekend spa break? Then try a day spa – you can book yourself one treatment, or spend the whole day being pampered. You can feel totally at ease about going alone, just book out some ‘me’ time and enjoy it.
What to expect: Day spas vary a lot, in that some will have facilities such as pools, steam rooms and saunas, as well as offering a whole host of treatments including hairdressing and makeovers, while others will focus solely on the treatments. All day spas, however, should have a dedicated chill-out area where you can relax in the time between treatments and before you rush off to collect the kids.
What should you take with you?
- Towels and a robe should be provided, but check with the spa before you go.
- Two swimming cossies (so you can change between treatments if you use the pools, jacuzzis, etc).
- Flip-flops (for pool areas) and slippers (to keep your feet cosy).
- A book, magazine or your iPod – just in case you find it hard to nod off!
- Sports kit (if you want to try out any classes).
Here are some tips and advice so you can enjoy your day or weekend away:
- Do your research – Before you book your trip, gather as much information as possible. Log onto the spa’s website first, then give them a call if you still have unanswered questions.
- Plan treatments in advance – Choose your treatments and book ahead. Remember, good spas get busy, so don’t expect to be able to change your treatments at the last minute.
- Feel comfortable – If you’ve never been to a spa before, let them know. Don’t feel embarrassed – everyone will want you to have a lovely time and feel comfortable.
- What to have – If you have issues about your body (as so many of us do) tell your therapist – she does this job day in, day out, and she’s not judging you. If you’re still not at ease about having a body massage, opt for a luxurious facial.
- Taking your clothes off – During any treatment, it’s normal to take off your bra, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Disposable panties are always available for body treatments, just don’t put them on your head as so many spa virgins have done in the past! There are some beauty treatments you can’t expect to cover up for, such as a Brazilian wax, but good therapists will talk you through the procedures beforehand.
- Arrive on time – Aim to get to the spa at least 15 minutes before your first treatment. Bear in mind that you may want to try the other facilities on offer, so account for this in your schedule.
- During your treatment – If you hate the music, or prefer silence, or your massage is too hard or soft, tell your therapist. The goal is for you to have a good time and benefit from your day.
Recommended spas to treat yourself to:
- 15 on Seventh — your ultimate beauty destination
- 3 gorgeous spa treats – Michaelangelo Spa, Legacy Balance Woodlands Spa & Granny Mouse Country House & Spa
- Serenity Day Spa