Last week I treated myself to a massage as an early birthday present. But instead of going to a private spa like I usually do, I tried one of those retail chain spas. (Yes, I had a coupon.) I understand that some people want an in-and-out spa experience. You go to a room, toss your clothes and purse on a chair, get your massage or facial, and get out. It’s faster, cheaper, and easier to book an appointment. But it’s most definitely not for me.
If you’ve only been to the franchise-type spa, you’re missing out. At a real spa, you’ll be escorted into a beautiful changing room where you can lock up your clothes and valuables and change into a cozy robe and slippers. You can then sit in a relaxing waiting area, sip tea and snack on fruit and chocolate. After your massage, you can enjoy a hot shower in a luxurious bathroom stocked with amenities. In the better spas, you might find a steam shower, sauna, or double-head, pulsating shower. Or you can simply sit in the waiting area in your cozy robe and sip more tea, maybe read a magazine, until you’re ready to re-enter the real world.
Another thing that bothered me was the “hard sell” they gave me when I was checking out. Not only was I prematurely pushed back into the real world, I was pushed to buy a membership for monthly services. Not cool when you’re trying to hang on to that post-massage warm and fuzzy feeling. I hope these spas will never squeeze out the real spas like the other big chains have squeezed out the “mom & pop” stores. I hope there will always be a market for the true spa – the places that allow you an escape and a real chance to relax.