FIND YOUR PERFECT RETREAT in the Winter-Spring Spafinder Wellness 365 Supplement. This issue encompasses everything from strengthening relationships to healing holistic programs, the unique offering of these retreats make them more than just spas with signature treatments, but rather exceptional experiences that stay with you long after you depart.
Whether set in a sprawling resort, intimate boutique hotel or an exotic, faraway place, a visit to a spa often extends beyond its various health and wellness programs, and offers many other wonderful aspects that you can share with others-or simply enjoy by yourself.
The Right Way to Relax
Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder Wellness 365, recommends that no matter where you are staying or who you are staying with, whenever possible, get a spa treatment on the day you check in. "It helps set the tone and gets you relaxed right away," she says. "So many people get settled into their rooms, make dinner plans, and then wait until the next day to incorporate the spa. Getting a treatment soon after you arrive helps you to unwind. Plus, it makes your stay feel longer."
"Insider"s Take" from The Spa Expert
Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder Wellness 365, is a respected spa industry analyst and expert. She has visited more than 1,000 spas and shares with you some of her insights about these special spa properties.
Deserted islands and remote resorts might conjure up feelings of romance, but these programs center on strengthening relationships and inspiring togetherness. While offering one-of-a-kind spa experiences that take the standard side-by-side couples massage to the next level.
"Generally, all spas offer some sort of treatment geared toward couples," says Ellis. "But these places have created extended experiences revolving around relaxation and romance."
Booking a Room
According to Ellis, one of the most important things to take into account when booking a romantic vacation is your guest room. "People tend to stay in the room longer when they are there for romance, so look for something quiet, spacious and ideally with a view."
Sans Social Interaction
Spas geared toward romance typically don"t facilitate a lot of socializing (although there will be other couples present), but, rather, create spaces where you can enjoy being with your significant other.
While signature "couples treatments" pop up plenty on romantic spas" menus, sauna, baths and classes that focus on the "take-home" component (think learning how to perform a massage) are also popular and widely available.
Food For Thought
Although it may seem like an afterthought behind selecting a destination, accommodations and amenities, food is a big factor of a romantic vacation--so make sure that the restaurants and menus appeal to both you and your traveling companion beforehand. "These types of getaways often revolve around getting spa treatments and dining; it"s almost like you are on a date every night, so it"s important you enjoy the cuisine," Ellis says.
From indulgent spa treatments to private dinners, going to a spa with a group of friends can be a once-in-a-lifetime getaway focused on fun. "Any resort, hotel or destination spa will welcome groups of women, but particular spas that host actual girlfriend-specific activities and have full-blown programs are the way to go when you are traveling with a group," says Ellis. "It"s just easier for everyone."
According to Ellis, you can go anywhere with a few friends and have a good time, but larger groups can be more cost-efficient.
The Fun Factor
Sometimes it"s stressful to be the one in charge of making arrangements, deciding what time to eat dinner and when to get treatments. "These programs take the guesswork out of what to do next and who is going to plan it," says Ellis.
Treatment to Skip
Ellis recommends trying out a variety of treatments--or at least one face and one body--so you can experience different things. "Get a manicure/pedicure before you go on the trip; that way, you already feel groomed once you are at the spa."
Plan on spending time in the amenity area. "Jacuzzis, steam rooms and pools are places where you can talk quietly with your friends and not feel hurried," says Ellis. "Make a day out of it."
Whether you"re single or in need of some alone time, these getaways are designed with the solor traveler in mind. "These spas are perfect for solo travelers," says Ellis. "Whatever you go for, you"ll find structured, personalized programs and, more importantly, a community of like-minded people."
Traveling alone presents unique opportunities--coupled with possible safety issues that are important to keep in mind.
The Social Aspect
Even the shiest people come out of their shells when they travel alone. When you"re traveling with others, you rely on them," explains Beth Whitman, author of The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo. "But, when you"re on your own, you"ll find yourself chatting with interesting people."
Safety in Numbers
When walking down a street by yourself, align yourself with others so that it appears as if you"re with a group. "There"s always safety in numbers, and, whether you know the other people or not, a would-be thief will never know the difference," says Whitman.
According to Ellis, when you have a specific goal in mind (think weight loss, detox or stress relief), going to a spa solo will help you focus at a more intense level than if you were traveling with a spouse, someone else or in a group.
Hotel room doors usually open inward, and, in many countries (and even on cruises), the doors don"t always have deadbolts or chain locks. "As a frequent solo traveler, I always carry a rubber door stop with me," says Whitman. "Slipping the rubber door stop underneath the door while you"re showering or asleep will ensure that no one can come in."
The Solo Experience
Relaxation and rejuvenation are the end goals of any spa trip, whether your visit involves a quick facial or a full day of pampering. But, if you are looking for a life-changing experience, there are full-immersion destination spas that offer all-inclusive options where overnight accommodations, classes, meals and even some spa treatments are included. For a list of destination spas, visit destinationspagroup.com.