Why Consider a Spa Vacation
Facing the challenges of everyday life while keeping a healthy body and mind isn’t easy. A spa vacation, provided it is well adapted to your needs, can be an ideal remedy that will yield long-lasting results. Spas are where the cruise industry was ten years ago, according to predictions from The International Spa and Fitness Association (I/SPA). As it adapts to new societal trends, the spa industry promises to become one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry as we enter the 21st century.
The number of spas in the United States has grown from 30 in 1978 to about 250 last year, showing that spa vacations are increasingly popular among travelers.
Health and Fitness Trend
The success of spa vacations is linked to a growing awareness about health, especially among the aging baby boomers that want to stay fit, young, attractive, and often have the income to do it. More people are also becoming aware that the answer to a healthier self is based on a long-term commitment to exercise, a low-fat diet and stress reduction. In that context, spas have become wellness centers that educate people on achieving healthy goals.
More Men Getting Hooked
As fitness programs and outdoor activities take up a greater share of the spa experience, more men (about 20 percent at destination spas) are booking spa vacations.
As we enter the post-industrial era, many people feel the need to turn away from consumerism and seek spiritual fulfillment. The spa industry has picked up on that trend, offering meditation and yoga classes, spiritual awareness workshops and serene settings favorable to introspection.
SPA DESIGN TIPS
Create Texture: Use wall hangings, pillows, rugs and uniqe bed coverings to creat texture and contrast in your spa. Locally made textiles embody a return to folkloric ideals and handmade crafts. Balance a combination of elements, such as reclaimed woods and other recyclables, textured glass, and metals such as copper and bronze.
Bring the Outdoors In: Create a sense of the outdoors indoors by using with waterfalls, bamboo, and stone. Natural elements such as calming waters and meditative gardens intrigue spa visitors as they experience the environment along with their treatments.
Don’t Forget Dramatic Doors: Pay attention to doors and entryways: they signify a “crossing-over” to a place where people can leave their everyday lives behind. “People are focusing on the client transition from the street to the spa interior,” says Clodagh. Water features, plants, and specialized lighting can liven up a plain looking door.
Choose Colors that Stimulate the Senses: “Flat color is out, and color with depth and character is in,” says well-known spa architect Robert Henry. “Our design philosophy is to create environments that engage the senses. Splashes of color enliven our spirits; luxurious textures engage our touch; aromas tantalize our sense of smell. All aspects of design contribute to the overall experience and ultimately the success of a spa.”
Mineral waters and hot springs – the original spas – have been part of relaxation and healing in many cultures for centuries. Towns with hot springs grew into popular destinations for holiday retreats.
Today this concept is still intact but greatly expanded into modern health resorts offering just about everything for what relaxes, what energizes and what ails you. Contemporary spas cater to people who want to lose weight, get in shape, simply relax or luxuriate with pampering treatments. They offer all the elements you need for a healthy lifestyle including nutritious food – fitness activities – body treatments – medical evaluations – behavioral management counseling – nutrition education – stress management – holistic health – spiritual growth – movement therapy – exercise physiology and more.
You’ll find spas in all shapes and sizes – at a mountaintop retreat, in the heart of the city, on a tropical island, in a desert oasis or in the serene countryside. What they have in common is they all specialize in wellness. To one degree or another, each addresses physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Some have distinct specialties while others can tailor your stay for your preferences.
Kinds of Spas
Types of spas? Don’t all spas offer the same things? Far from it! The International SPA Association has categorized spas to assist spa goers in choosing the best spa experience for them.
Club Spa: a facility whose primary purpose is fitness and which offers a variety of professionally administered spa services on a day-use basis.
Cruise Ship Spa: a spa aboard a cruise ship providing professionally administered spa services, fitness and wellness components and spa cuisine menu choices.
Day Spa: local spas offering hourly services.
Choose a day spa near your home or while traveling when you want a spa experience for a short period of time. Day spas are designed to provide a beautifying, relaxing, or pampering experience with individual treatments that last for as little as an hour or multiple spa treatments that may take up to a whole day. Day spas are freestanding or located in health clubs, hotels, shopping centers, department stores, or even airports
Destination Spa: spas where guests come to focus purposefully on lifestyle improvement, health enhancement, and self-renewal.
Choose a Destination Spa if you seek total immersion in everything spa. Destination spas are places to go for a few days, a week, or even longer to enjoy the spa experience in the company of like-minded people. At these inspiring retreats, you find all-inclusive programs that integrate fitness, spa treatments, healthful cuisine, and lifestyle education
Hotel Spas: spas in city hotels.
Choose a City Hotel, (also called hotel Spa or urban spa), when you are traveling or wish to have a day spa experience with hotel amenities like a health club and a restaurant. Steam rooms, saunas, pools, exercise equipment, and fitness classes may also be offered. Located in metropolitan hotels, some of these spas are open only to hotel guests, while others are accessible to the general public.
Medical Spas / Wellness Spas: spas with a focus on wellness and preventive healthcare or cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.
Choose a Medical Spa if you are interested in healthcare in a spa setting, either at a day spa or at a spa with overnight accommodations. Medical spas offer traditional and complementary medical services supervised or administered by medical professionals. The spa’s specialty may be diagnostic testing, preventive care, cosmetic procedures, or a combination of these.
Mineral Spring Spa: spa offering an on-site source of natural mineral, thermal or seawater used in hydrotherapy treatments. Resort / Hotel Spa – a spa owned by and located within a resort or hotel providing professionally administered spa services, fitness and wellness components and spa cuisine menu choices.
Resort Spa: spas in resort settings.
Choose a resort spa if you want to combine a wide variety of recreational activities with a renewing spa experience. At these vacation resorts, spa treatments and services complement such activities as golf, tennis, horseback riding, skiing, and water sports. Healthful spa cuisine is on the menu alongside traditional fare, and alcohol is available. In the evening, guests can enjoy resort pastimes such as dancing and live entertainment. Children’s programs may also be offered.
Destination & resort spas offer an array of choices for the mind, body, and spirit: fitness classes that range from the quiet discipline of yoga to the breathy exuberance of aerobics; hikes of varying degrees of difficulty; massages, wraps, and scrubs; lectures on health topics and meditation sessions.
We’ve created this page to enlighten you with the various types of spa services you’d expect to find at a destination or resort spa. Please keep in mind that services vary from one resort to another.
Spas around the country offer many wonderful body treatments designed to relax, rejuvenate, exfoliate, balance and energize body and spirit.
Herbal Wrap: A cloth or sheet steeped in a warm solution of herbs wrapped around the body to draw out impurities, improve metabolism and promote relaxation.
Loofah Scrub: The entire body is gently scrubbed with a loofah sponge to exfoliate and rejuvenate skin. Seaweed or minerals are usually used to polish and calming oils to soothe.
Mud Treatment: Mineral-rich mud is rubbed onto the skin; detoxifies, relaxes and can also ease the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.
Salt Glow: Coarse sea salt, often combined with aromatic oils, is massaged into the body to exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate circulation.
Seaweed Wrap: Seaweed, rich with deep-sea nutrients is applied as a wrap. Minerals, rare trace elements and proteins are absorbed into the bloodstream to revitalize and detoxify skin and body.
• MASSAGE THERAPIES
A variety of massages are offered to relieve stress, relax muscular tension, and improve body function through increased circulation.
Reflexology: A foot massage in which pressure is put on reflex areas of feet that correspond with, and therefore stimulate organs and glands throughout the body.
Shiatsu: A deep massage originating in Japan, in which pressure is applied to acupuncture points for deep muscle relaxation and re-energizing.
Sports Massage: A deep-tissue massage designed to relax and re-energize tired muscles or relieve a particular area aggravated by sports or exercise.
Swedish Massage: The most universally offered style of therapeutic massage, using oils or creams to gently manipulate out tensions to improve flexibility, circulation and relaxation.
• SKIN CARE
Most facials (often offered for back and chest as well) include a thorough cleansing, extractions if necessary, exfoliation, moisturizing and a light massage. Facials are often specialized according to individual needs.
Aromatherapy: Botanical essences or oils are chosen for your skin type to promote healthy, balanced skin. Aroma also calms, and improves the reduction of headaches.
European Facial: A deep-cleansing treatment to improve texture and leave a glowing complexion. This most popular facial includes cleansing, toning, exfoliation and masque, followed by a soothing calming essential moisturizer.
Collagen: An application of collagen smoothes, plumps and rejuvenates dry, lined skin.
Deep Pore: A deep-cleansing facial which includes extraction, mask and focuses on a tightening of enlarged pores.
Glycolic Acid: Application of glycolic acid exfoliates dead skin cells and encourages cell regeneration for younger, smoother skin.
Eye Contour: Plant extracts hydrate and reduce lines and wrinkles. Minimizes fine lines, reduces dark circles, puffiness and congestion. Extremely refreshing.
• NAIL CARE
Besides the basic and acrylic manicures, most salons and day spas offer spa pedicures, and special deluxe treatments such as hand and foot massage and exfoliation.
Paraffin Wraps: Warm paraffin wax is brushed over hands or feet to draw out impurities and intensely hydrate skin and cuticles, and soothe achy muscles and joints.
Spa Pedicure: Like a massage for the calves and feet. Pedicure stations often feature vibrating massage chairs and whirlpool tubs. Feet luxuriate in soothing whirlpool soak followed by exfoliation and a relaxing, moisturizing masque massaged into feet and calves. Nails are trimmed, shaped and buffed. Polish is applied if desired.
• WATER THERAPIES
Dating back to ancient Roman mineral baths, water therapy has been used to bring on a deep state of relaxation, reduce fluid retention, eliminate toxins, rejuvenate skin and increase blood flow to the heart and other organs.
Hydrotherapy: Any therapy delivered through water – usually a deep hydrojet massage in a hot tub or shower. Therapeutic minerals are often used as well.
Vichy Shower: This gentle massaging shower, originating in the French town of Vichy directs jets to the body’s seven energy zones. Is offered on its own or following an exfoliating mineral body treatment.
• COSMETIC APPLICATION
Make-up application or lesson, for entire face or specific areas, such as eyes or lips. Often includes color consultation. Cosmetics can also be purchased.
• HAIR CARE
Hair cuts, special occasion styles, deep conditioning treatments, hair color, highlights, permanent waves, hair straightening, or just a wash and blow dry are available at most salons.
• WAXING / HAIR REMOVAL
Hair removal by wax for various parts of the body, including face, bikini, arms and legs. Some spas and salons also offer hair removal by electrolysis or laser.
Acupressure: Finger massage that releases tension by applying pressure to the nerves.
Acupressure Facial: Using 50 acupressure points in the facial area, you can acquire deep relaxation as well as be wrinkle free from stress.
Aerobics: A series of rhythmic exercises performed to music. The purpose is to stimulate the aerobic capacity of the heart and lungs and to burn fats.
Aikido: A Japanese martial art.
Alexander Technique: A massage system to relieve stress and improve posture.
Algotherapy: Seaweed bath (refer to Thalassotherapy for more information).
Aqua aerobics: Aerobic exercises performed in a swimming pool. The water provides support and resistance.
Aromatherapy: This relates to the use of fragrant, natural, botanical essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers. Aromatherapy refreshes and relaxes the skin while soothing the mind by helping to induce a sense of well-being and. Each individual essence is used to produce a specific beneficial effect. Used in massage and facials.
Ayurvedic Massage: An ancient Indian massage technique that frees body and mind of all toxins. It is performed contemporarily by two therapists with the use of essential oils.
Ayurveda Treatment: This ancient Indian “Science of Life” states that the skin is the mirror to inner health and the body manifests everything that happens inside. Ayurveda utilizes the curative properties of plants, herbs and essential oils to improve the skin’s health and relieve the stress, tension and emotion of daily life.
Bach Cures: Healing with floral essences and oils.
Balneotherapy: The use of water to improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and reduce pain and stress.
Bindi: Bodywork combining exfoliation, herbal treatment, and light massage.
Bio-energetics: Energy exchange between the giver and receiver of massage.
Bio-Lifting: A non-surgical facial lifting treatment performed with galvanic stimulation.
Body Composition Test: Computerized evaluation of lean body mass determining the percentage of body fat.
Brush & Tone: Dry-brushing of skin to remove its dead layers and impurities and stimulate circulation. It is one of the main exfoliating techniques used prior to the application of mud or seaweed face-packs.
Cayce-Reilly Massage: This massage is intensively therapeutic, manipulates tissues and joints, and uses moist heated castor oil and glycothymaline packs.
Cathiodermie: A treatment performed with the use of low-voltage electrical stimulation. It cleanses the face and stimulates skin regeneration.
Chi Kung: A Chinese energy exercise where breathing and body movement recharge energy.
Circuit Training: A high energy aerobic workout combined with weight resistance equipment.
Collagen Facial: Freeze-dried collagen is used to plump the skin to fill in the fine lines acquired by stress, sunbathing, or the environment.
Colon Therapy: A high colonic enema that cleanses using water. Benefits include detoxification, cleansing of the blood, and the stimulation of internal organs.
Compression Wrap: A localized treatment for cellulite and fatty deposits on arms, legs and buttocks.
Contouring: Deep toning of muscles using calisthenics.
Crystal Healing: Healing by using energy believed to be generated by quartz and other crystals minerals.
Cure: A course of treatment.
Cybex: Patented exercise equipment used for isokinetic strength training.
Dancercise: An aerobic session that makes use of modified modern dance steps and movements.
Dead Sea Mud Treatment: The application of Dead Sea mud, rich in minerals to detoxify the skin and the body and to relieve rheumatic and arthritic pain.
Deep Muscle Massage: This type of massage eliminates knots, locked up areas, and emotional blocks in the body due to prolonged stress. It includes various leverage techniques and kneading for a very firm massage.
Deep Tissue Massage: The intent of this work is to free congestion of the muscle attachments. Deep work brings about realignment of postural distortions and restores proper range of motion. Liberation of emotional tensions may also result. Muscle function and awareness are balanced, and elasticity is revived.
Equilibropathy: A method of balancing the body which can be used to therapeutically treat ailments from asthma, migraines, sore muscles, sinus congestion, vertigo, stiff joints including gout, arthritis & rheumatism, lowered immunity and many more common conditions and is particularly useful in the prevention of all types of illnesses.
Ergometer: Exercise machine designed for muscular contraction.
Esalen Massage: A long, gentle and stroking style of massage.
European Facial: A specialized skin care treatment which includes a mild exfoliation and the a special combination of herbal extracts and active substances from nature. Deep cleansing, steam, exfoliation and professional massage of the face, shoulders and chest area nourishes and refines the skin. A special masque hydrates the skin.
Exfoliating Facial Treatment: Peels away dry skin cells and removes deeply-trapped secretions that impede oxygenation. Marine sediments, mineral salts and lipoamino acids stimulate circulation and add moisture
Exfoliation: Peels away dry skin cells and removes deeply-trapped secretions that impede oxygenation.
Fango Body Treatment: Thermal fango mud from Italy is applied to the entire body to gently cleanse, release toxins, remineralize, nourish, and soothe the skin. Also used to relieve muscular and arthritic pain.
Feldenkrais: A method to reprogram the nervous system through movement augmented by physical pressure and manipulation.
Floatation: Float in tanks filled with sterile salt water regulated so that its temperature is precisely the same as your body temperature for a sense of buoyancy and weightlessness. You float in complete sensory isolation so that no nerve impulses move from the skin to the brain for a unique feeling of relaxation. Can be used in complete silence, music or guided imagery
Free Weights: Hand held dumbbells or barbells.
G5: Percussive hand massage to relax tense muscles.
Glycolic Facial: This breaks down the glue bond that holds dry skin on the face, then creates a rapid exfoliation to soften lines and smooth the skin.
Gommage: A cleansing and moisturizing treatment that makes use of creams applied with movements similar to those of an extensive massage.
Hellerwork: Deep tissue bodywork, stress reduction and movement reeducation.
Herbal Wrap: use of strips of cloth soaked in a herbal solution that are wrapped around the body. This treatment is followed by a period of rest. It is used to eliminate impurities and to detoxify the body, as well as to induce relaxation.
Herbology: Therapeutic use of herbs in treatments and diet.
Holistic Health: A philosophy of well-being that considers the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life as closely interconnected. It attempts to restore balance by curing all three aspects.
Homeopathy: Based on the principle that “like cures like,” this form of medicine treats patients with natural substances that cause symptoms much like those manifested by the ailment, thus stimulating the body to heal itself.
Hydration Facial: Utilizes enzymes and hylauronic acids which promotes superior hydration of stressed skin cells. A mask of paraffin and essential oils are applied to rehydrate and revitalize the skin.
Hydrotherapy: A traditional therapy which includes underwater jet massages, showers, jets and mineral baths.
Interval Training: A combination of high energy exercise followed by a period of low intensity activity.
Jin Shin Acupressure: Gentle yet deep finger pressure on specific acu-points with body focusing techniques to help release physical and emotional tension and armoring, assist the immune system, alleviate common ailments, and harmonize the flow of life energy within the body. Performed without oil.
Jin Shin Do: An ancient art of harmonizing life energy within the body practiced by placing fingertips over clothing on designated areas.
Kneipp Kur: Treatment combining hydrotherapy, herbology, and a natural food diet.
Kur: A course of treatment.
Lomi-Lomi: Hawaiian rhythmical rocking massage.
Loofah Scrub: A total body scrub with a Loofah sponge, to exfoliate the skin and stimulate circulation.
Low Intensity Aerobics: A form of aerobics without jumps, to spare the body possible and useless microtraumas.
Lymph drainage: A special therapeutic massage that uses a delicate pumping technique to drain sacs of water and trapped toxins. It is considered by many as an anti-aging treatment. Lymph drainage may be performed with manual massage, hydromassage or aromatherapy massage.
Moor therapy Treatment: Formed more than 30,000 years ago, Moor Mud is a complete nourishing matter containing over 800 plants with at least 380 having known medicinal value. Treatments remineralize, hydrate & exfoliate the skin leaving it with a vital, healthy glow.
Mud Treatment: A treatment with mineral-rich mud that may be mixed with oil and water. The mud are applied to the body as hot packs to detoxify the body, loosen the muscles and stimulate circulation.
Naturopathy: Natural healing prescriptions using plans and flowers.
Parafango: A combination of Fango mud and paraffin wax (refer to Paraffin Mud Treatment).
Paraffin Mud Treatment: Mud mixed in paraffin used to relieve rheumatic and arthritic pains.
Paraffin Treatment: Heated paraffin is rubbed over the body, trapping heat, absorbing toxins and inducing relaxation. It leaves the skin as soft as silk.
Paraffin Wrap: A process of removing dead skin cells with hot oil and Japanese dry brushing techniques. Then an emollient wax is applied to the entire body for an intense hydrating treatment.
Parcours: An outdoor trail with exercise stations along the way.
Perfector Therapy: The use a low current that sends tiny electrical impulses to the muscles, stimulating them which in turn leads to cell regeneration, lymph cleansing, toxin removal and more toned and firmer skin and muscles.
Phytotherapy: Healing through plants, involving the use of herbs, aromatic essential oils, seaweeds, herbal and floral extracts.
Polarity Massage: A massage technique used to release energy through a delicate manipulation technique.
Polarity Therapy: Balancing energy in the body through a combination of massage, meditation, exercise, and diet.
Polish: A gentle process using large sea sponges to cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate and soften the body.
Pressotherapy: Treatment with pressure cuffs to improve the circulation of the feet.
Rasul: An Oriental ceremony for body care involving a cleansing seaweed soap shower, medicinal muds, and an invigorating herbal steam bath.
Reflexology: An ancient Chinese technique in which specific pressure points (usually on the feet, but also on the hands and ears) are massaged in order to re-establish the flow of energy throughout the body. This ancient Oriental treatment relieves stress and releases energy and pressure throughout your entire body.
Reike: The Ancient Art and Science of balancing the body’s energy on a physical and emotional level.
Repichage (Age Repair Treatment): A treatment performed on the face and on the entire body with the use of a combination of herbal, clay, seaweed or mud face-packs to produce a cleansing and moisturizing effect.
Rolfing: Bodywork that improves balance and flexibility through manipulation of rigid muscles, bones, and joints. Intended to relieve stress and improve energy.
Salt Glow: The body is rubbed with coarse salt, sometimes in combination with fragrant oils, to remove the top layer of dead skin and stimulate circulation.
Sauna: Dry heat in a wooden room is used to open the pores and eliminate toxins through sweat. In combination with refreshing cold showers, saunas can improve the body’s immune defenses and favor recovery from stress.
Scotch Hose Massage: A massage received in a standing position and performed by a therapist who uses a hose to spray strong jets of water on the body, alternating hot and cold water or using sea water. This treatment is used to decongest inflamed muscles and to stimulate circulation.
Seaweed Wrap: Wrap (or pack) of concentrated sea water and seaweed with a balanced content of oceanic nutrients. Minerals, rare elements, vitamins, proteins are diffused in the blood stream to revitalize the skin and the body.
Shiatsu: Acupressure massage technique developed in Japan. Pressure is applied to specific points of the body to stimulate or release the ‘meridians’ (paths of the body through which energy flows. This helps to revitalize the balance of the immune and endocrine systems and to stabilize energy flow.
Spa: Means the “cure of water”. It has transformed into wonderful treatments utilizing the benefits of sea and mineral water.
Spinning: Performing a series of exercises seated on special exercise bikes: stretching, low intensity aerobics, high intensity aerobics, body contour, yoga, meditation.
Sports Massage: Massage of foundation tissues, directed specifically at the muscles, used in athletic activities. This is a deep muscle massage often used around the joints. It combines classical Swedish style with trigger points, compression and electro-neuromuscular techniques to reduce soreness. Excellent when preparing for sports activities or after a strenuous workout.
Steam Room: A room with seats in which steam is generated at high pressure and temperature . This treatment is used to open the pores and eliminated toxins.
Step Aerobics: Aerobic sessions performed with a small platform used to step up and down.
Stretching: Various parts of the body are stretched by assuming different positions. This technique helps eliminate stress and tension and increase flexibility.
Sugaring: An ancient hair removal process.
Swedish Massage: A classical European massage technique characterized by a delicate manipulation of the muscles with special oils by therapeutic stroking and kneading of muscle tissue to promote stress relief. It is used to improve circulation, relieve muscle pain and tension, increase flexibility and induce relaxation. It combines three basic strokes to the skin: long, firm strokes; kneading strokes; and small circles. This is the most requested and one of the most enjoyable massages.
Swiss Shower: Powerful shower jets that alternate hot and cold water, directed onto the body at various levels, produce the effect of an invigorating massage.
T’ai Chi: A form or Chinese martial art that favors a constant flow of energy. It combines mental concentration, slow respiration and graceful movements similar to those of a dance.
Thai: A technique that involves a unique combination of gentle rocking and stretching using range of motion and acupressure techniques applied through clothing without oils.
Thalassotherapy: A detoxifying treatment of sea products used to exfoliate, balancing skins pH and hydrate.
Thalassotherapy Massage: A massage using seaweed oil
Trager Massage: Massage that uses delicate and slow movements to relieve tension and realign the body.
Vichy Shower: A shower taken lying on special mattresses with various jets coming from above.
Vodder Massage: A manual lymph drainage massage technique.
Waxing: The removal of body hairs with hot wax.
Weight Lifting Work-out: Aerobic exercises that make use of the resistance offered by weights.
Whirlpool: A tub of hot water with high pressure side jets. It is a treatment that loosens inflamed and overworked muscles and induces relaxation.
Yoga: An oriental practice that uses special positions (asana) and breath control, to stretch and tone the body, improve circulation, calm the central nervous system and induce a meditative and all-embracing state of being. It is also a philosophical discipline.
Resources: American Spa Therapies Education and Certification Council (A.S.T.E.C.C.),
Day Spa Association, International Spa Association (ISPA).