Expert answers to your spa questions
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By Susie Ellis
September / October 2005
Q: I'm having a package of microdermabrasion and laser facial treatments that will cost $3,000. Tipping the laser technician, which I was told was customary but not necessary, seems a little like tipping the X-ray tech at the doctor's office. I usually tip 20 percent, but for a $3,000 procedure that's quite a lot! Any advice?
A: Your instincts are correct. I checked with three of my colleagues, including the president of the Medical Spa Society, an association of medical spa professionals, and all said that in a medical spa, tipping for non-day-spa services is not expected.
Q: Can you recommend a spa resort that offers fishing?
A: There are some excellent options for those who want to fish and spa or (like me) wish to spa while my husband goes off in his waders. Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, offers outstanding freshwater fishing in two ponds and a stream on the property, plus trout fishing in nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This intimate luxury hotel, which has won many awards for its food, wine, and service, also has a lovely Farmhouse spa, which you can enjoy as part of the Angler's "Reel" Relief package. It begins with a two-hour fly-fishing lesson and ends with a 90-minute custom massage. It's a fisherman's (and woman's) treat! Double Eagle Resort and Spa in June Lake, California, also offers great fly-fishing, three- and four-day fishing camps, and a full-service spa and salon. Also check out Echo Valley Ranch & Spa in Jesmond, British Columbia, which has a "learn to fly-fish" program and a Thai-themed spa. Your question inspired us to add a "Fishing" category, which lists 11 options, to Spafinder.com's Spa Guide.
Q: I'm interested in opening a spa. Can you point me in the right direction to get me started?
A: This is one of the questions I get most often. My advice is to begin by contacting the International Spa Association (ISPA) and take advantage of its resources. (Visit the website at www.experienceispa.com.) The association has excellent industry research that is worth purchasing, and its yearly conference and trade show is a good place to network and find other sources of expertise. And I strongly suggest that you consider hiring a spa consultant who has completed projects that are similar to the spa you envision. This will save you money in the long run. Also, visit spas!
I've just visited...
Hua Hin, Thailand
What I loved
A real destination-spa experience in an Asian setting. Standouts: excellent spa cuisine, full exercise program, the beach, Thai massage, the softly lit relaxation room with warmed water beds, and the diverse spa menu with photographs of each service. What a great idea!
The holistic options, such as internal organ chi massage, colonic hydrotherapy, iridology, and live blood analysis, which complement the more traditional offerings. Although I was initially skeptical of these sessions with naturopathic doctors, they yielded real health benefits.
What I didn't love
The $2 charged for bottled water in the gym. Chiva-Som isn't cheap--the basic rate is $690 a night--so this seems a bit nickel-and-dime.
Make sure you...
Book a Thai massage with Prathumthip (or an equally seasoned therapist) for a flawless combination of pressure and stretching. My massage felt like a dance.
866-476-1343 or www.chivasom.com