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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.

upon arrival
"As soon as Jenny and I arrive, we settle into the hot tub in our room with some cheese and a bottle of wine before diving into any of our treatments." —Angie

"I schedule a massage for the first evening. That way, I can take a few classes before the massage and truly unwind." —Sarah

"My first move is to make friends with the concierge. Instead of stressing about what to pack—hiking boots? swim cap?—I can just ask the concierge, and whatever I need usually arrives within an hour." —Janelle

"At check-in, I always schedule at least one dinner with my mom to catch up. Between treatments, fitness classes, and meeting other people, you can get really busy at a spa!" —Sarah

treatments
"Don't bother with short treatments. There's nothing worth doing at a spa in 20 minutes." —Catherine

"It's OK to admit that you don't like everything. I find sea-salt scrubs to be very annoying." —Jenny

"Be open-minded about unusual offerings. At the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, I signed up for a Euphoria treatment, which sounded like a glorified bath. It was great—they put me in a big tub beneath a waterfall and used sage and rose scents in the bath, body scrub, and massage." —Janelle

"I always inquire about the ingredients used. Lavender and peppermint are fine, but I'm not too crazy about spice or citrus scents." —Jenny

"Save facials for the end of your stay. What's the point of getting your skin looking beautiful only to go on a sweaty hike?" —Jen

"I can have a standard hot-stone massage anywhere, so I opt for more unusual signature services. The Kuyam treatment at the spa at Ojai, for example, uses mud, dry heat, and guided meditation. You then get to take a long nap on your own private patio." —Catherine

"Everything can sound good in a brochure, but if it's a treatment you've never had, try it in a combination. For my first mud wrap, I booked a wrap and massage. I knew that if I started to feel claustrophobic during the wrap, at least it would be over in 20 minutes." —Jenny

"Don't forget to ask about extra-long treatments. I got a two-hour massage that was amazing—something quite magical happened after 90 minutes." —Jen

fitness activities
"Because I like to swim early in the morning, I've learned the hard way that pool heaters are often turned off at night. Ask the concierge to heat the pool in time for your swim; a warm swim will relax your muscles before your first massage of the day." —Susan

"Each time I visit a spa, I try to sign up for something I wouldn't consider doing at home, whether it's rock climbing or kickboxing. It's included in the price of your stay, and someone else can worry about the gear you'll need." —Catherine

"Since the fitness program isn't flexible, look at each day's list of classes before booking treatments. There are certain classes that I love, including any that are water-based, and I plan around them." —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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