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Life is full of stress: the needs of your family and friends, the demands of your career, the issues that you face every day. You know you are stressed and you should take better care of yourself, but you can't seem to find the time. Maybe you need to take a spa vacation.
A spa provides a wide variety of treatments designed to rejuvenate and refresh the body and mind. The type of treatments depends on the spa, but most include various kinds of massage, ranging from traditional forms like shiatsu or Swedish or newer options like massage by the placing of heated stones on the body. They also usually offer body wraps, in which the body is wrapped in cloths saturated in tea or herbs, or in special mud or clay.
Other common spa options include exfoliation, facials, pedicures and manicures, acupuncture, biofeedback, saunas and steam rooms, and various therapies, such as collagen injections to fill in wrinkles, or colonic irrigation to cleanse the body of toxins.
Spas also serve the spirit with offerings such as meditation, aromatherapy, crystal therapy, meditative yoga, Native American sweat lodges and the like. And most spas include exercise or fitness options ranging from the strenuous, like Pilates and spinning, to the more gentle, such as aquatics and nature hikes.
Many luxury hotels and resorts offer spa treatments as part of their services. These are especially popular at golf and ski resorts, as well as hotels in major urban centers. In hotel and resort spas, vacationers can choose as many or as few spa services as they want. For example, if you love to golf and your spouse is not quite as passionate, he or she might decide to take a day in the spa while you enjoy an extra day on the links. If you take a ski vacation, you might opt for a massage after a day on the slopes, or you could take a whole day off from skiing to pamper yourself.
Destination spas are all spa, all the time. Visitors sign up for a regimen that includes fitness and health classes, carefully crafted meals that stress good nutrition, as well as a wide variety of spa treatments. Usually you can create your own schedule from the list of available treatments. Some spas also offer specialized treatment schedules based on your goal, such as fitness, relaxation or spiritual development.
Specialty spas offer a particular approach to the spa experience. For example, you can find spas that emphasize holistic medicine, weight reduction, addiction treatment, spiritual discipline, or just about anything.
And a day spa is just what it sounds like: You go for the day for one or a succession of spa treatments.
Some spas are more luxurious than others, but most can put a bite in your wallet. As a result, you want to get the most out of your spa vacation. You might want to start small, like with an afternoon at a day spa, to see if you enjoy the treatments.
If you want to expand your experience, there are several ways to find a spa. You can talk to your travel agent, of course. If you have a particular destination or vacation plan in mind, look for spa options there. For example, if you are planning a golf or ski vacation, look for a resort that includes a spa.
There are also several Web sites you can visit. As with any Web search, exercise caution. You probably want to call the spa and check it out before you book your trip. You can start with these sites:
- Spafinder.com. Founded in 1986, it is one of the oldest travel companies specializing in spas. This can be a good place to start your spa research, because it includes sections on types of spas, definitions of spa terms, and spa etiquette. You can find out about individual spas and book online. It has a special section on luxury spas around the world.
- Spatacular-spas.com. This site lets you research and book vacations at luxury spas around the world.
- The Five-Star Alliance, which identifies and researches luxury accommodations worldwide, has a site for spas. You can find out about both destination spas and hotel spas.