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editor q&a

Transcript: September 30, 2008

Tracy York, general manager of Lake Austin Spa Resort, answered your questions about spa vacations, trends in treatments, and what happens behind the scenes at spas.

Tracy York: Hi Everyone! My name is Tracy York and I am the general manager of Lake Austin Spa Resort. I am excited to be your online trip coach today about spa vacations. I have spent the past eleven years with Lake Austin Spa Resort and have been part of its transformation into one of the world's best destination spas. The best part of my job is helping people rest, relax & restore. With that, let's get started answering your questions so you can get started planning a spa vacation.


Los Angeles, Calif.: I read an article somewhere that it's becoming harder and harder to find spas where you can truly disconnect, because so many have Wi-Fi and cell phone reception. I want to unplug! Help!

Tracy York: Don't we all want to unplug and a spa is a perfect place to do so! In order to ensure your relaxation, I would suggest you ask your spa reservationist at the time you are booking your service. Ask what the spa's guidelines are on phones and pagers. If you know the guidelines, you can follow them and can expect your fellow spagoers to follow them as well. It takes some personal discipline—but we should all be able to escape and unplug for a few hours or a day. Rest and relax. You deserve it.


Denver, Colo.: Tipping etiquette! What are the guidelines, roughly? And how do you do it—at one point in the process if you're dealing with multiple people?

Tracy York: Tipping therapists and knowing what to wear (or not to wear) are the most common questions for spa rookies. When it comes to gratuities, I would suggest you ask the questions up front when booking your spa services as spas differ in how they handle gratuities. Some spas add an automatic service charge while others leave the gratuity to your discretion at the conclusion of your treatment. Additionally, some spas will happily add your gratuities to your credit or debit card payment while others only accept cash gratuities. By asking at the time of booking, you will be prepared. If you have all the information up front, you can stop the mind chatter during your treatment and truly relax.


Minneapolis, Minn.: What are the best spas where you can go on a girlfriend getaway package?

Tracy York: A spa vacation is a wonderful way to reconnect with your girlfriends. Let me start by quickly explaining the difference between destination, resort and day spas. All are great options for a spa getaway and depending on whether you have a few hours for a few days, one of the options will work for you. Destination spas are perfect for the group that can get away for three days or more. At destination spas, your health, well-being and relaxation are the primary goals. You will enjoy restful accommodations, healthy meals, wonderful exercise options and great treatments. Everyone at a destination spa is there for the same reason—a relaxing, healthy vacation. At a resort spa, the spa facility is one of typically many amenities that you can take advantage of such as a golf course, pools, convention center etc. A resort spa is perfect if you have one or two nights to get away and want to enjoy a variety of activities including spa services. Keep in mind there will be a lot of people at the resort doing different things such as relaxing, meetings, conferences etc. This oftentimes can be perfect if you have a variety of interests in your girlfriend group and want to meet a few times a day to enjoy meals etc. and use the rest of the time as each individual pleases. A day spa is just that—a location where you can go relax for the day and enjoy the treatments and amenities they have to offer. This is great if you have a shorter time window to escape.

Having said all of that, I would encourage you to visit if a destination spa sounds like the type of spa you would like to visit or for listings of resort spas that may offer the activities and environment you are looking for. There are as many wonderful spa experiences as there are groups—so select your spa based on the environment your group would enjoy as well as the experience you feel like you would all enjoy.


New York, N.Y.: Hello, Tracy. Are there surprise fees that people should watch out for when booking spas?

Tracy York: The last thing the spa wants is for you to be surprised by anything. We really want you to enjoy the time to rest and relax. In order to prevent any surprises, take time when booking the service to ask about any additional fees such as taxes, facility fees, service charges or gratuities etc. It is a good idea to ask your reservationist what the total cost of your spa experience will be. This should make you comfortable that you know what you are paying and you can spend your time relaxing instead of worrying!

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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