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spas & pampering

Secrets of the Spa Junkies

Before you put on that fluffy robe, take a few tips from these avid spa-goers—women who've winced through inexpert facials and snickered through hokey aura-reading sessions—on how to get the most bliss for your buck.

our experts
The most relaxed of friends
Ever since Angie Breckenridge, 43, and Jenny Sheehy, 35, met at a salon eight years ago, the women—an obstetrician and a manicurist, respectively—have been taking annual spa trips while their husbands go hunting and fishing. Their favorite spa is Sundara in Wisconsin Dells, not far from where they live in West Bend, Wis.

Sisters who love spas
Catherine Seda, 35, has been going on spa getaways for the past 10 years with her sister, Jen Seda, 33, a doctor in Denver. The duo became a trio when Catherine, a marketing consultant in Thousand Oaks, Calif., discovered that her colleague Janelle Elms, 41, was also a spa junkie.

Like mother, like daughter
After Houston retiree Susan Zeller, 63, survived her second bout with cancer 13 years ago, she made it a priority to go on regular spa trips with her daughter, Sarah, 25, a hedge-fund marketer in New York City.

looking for a deal
"Travelzoo offers great spa packages. The website recently advertised a deal for $199 per night at the posh Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa that included spa access. It's normally $100 more per night just for the hotel room." —Jen

"The first thing I do is price a day pass; then I compare the spa's room rates to rates at local hotels. Some spas include treatments in the rate, but many don't. Jen and I love the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, for instance, and my mom happens to live close by. We'll sleep at her place and pay $20 each for a day at the spa." —Catherine

"If you're part of a group, consider a suite, which is often a better deal—and more fun because suites have special showers and tubs you won't find in a standard room." —Angie

"Compare package deals to à la carte treatments. When you calculate the price per facial, massage, or body scrub, the packages tend to be a better value. Plus, you get to sit in the spa for the whole day." —Janelle

"If I'm on my own, I like to bring snacks to the spa. I'm rarely in the mood to pay $20 for a salad that I have to eat alone." —Jen

choosing a spa
"I inquire about the thread count of the bedding, the towels, even the robes. The point is to feel pampered, so there's nothing wrong with making sure that the spa is luxurious before you commit. Also ask about the dress code. I've been to plenty of places that require nice clothes for dinner. At others, guests walk around in their robes, which I love because it feels like everyone is really relaxing." —Susan

 
Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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