Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Spa Experience

I received a spa gift certificate for my 60th birthday. I put it in my drawer, weeks and months passed, and finally five months later I made an appointment.

I have only been to a spa a couple of times in my life. I had a massage once and a facial twice. I figured a spa experience was a wonderful waste of a day.
I arrived about 10:00 a.m. The receptionists were gracious and quiet; the whole atmosphere was peaceful. There was very soft background music, and everyone seemed to be walking around in shoes that did not make a sound.  I was handed a locker key, robe, and pointed to the dressing room. I stripped, threw on the long white robe, which was very soft and comfortable, and made my way to the massage room.
The room was semi-dark with muted lighting. Gentle, subdued music played. The massage therapist was young, very nice, and business-like. No frivolous conversation or chit-chat here. Right down to work. My neck, back, and legs got a thorough workout. An hour later I was totally relaxed and ready for a good long nap.
But the nap had to wait. There was a sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi to take advantage of. By the way, the place was almost empty. The spa was located in a resort hotel. It was mid-week and not a holiday or vacation season.
I spent about 15-20 minutes in the steam room. After cooling down and drinking the purified bottled water provided, I tried the sauna for fifteen minutes. It felt good; I was lying down and almost fell asleep. But I did not want to lose track of the time and end up totally cooked. 

I skipped the Jacuzzi, but enjoyed  a soothing shower. I dried my hair and moved on to the salon. A facial and manicure awaited.
The facial felt calming, cool against my skin, and although the woman raved about how it made my skin look fresh, young and wonderful, I could not tell the difference. But it did feel refreshing. The manicure was thorough – a lot more thorough than the bargain-basement-priced ones at my neighborhood nail salon. At the height of the season you are in and out in ten minutes. No one can do a very good job in such a short time. Off season they will take more time and effort to do a decent job.
I was supposed to get lunch during my spa experience, but that perk had been discontinued since my gift certificate was purchased. I was not offered an alternative, and nobody seemed too concerned that I had been shortchanged. I finally left, hungry and eager to get home for some food.
During my entire time at the spa and salon I saw only three or four other customers. That is great for the customer – a lot of personal service – but obviously not good for business. But I guess even the busiest places have off days.
I had a very pleasant, relaxing, soothing day. But I have to admit I would not pay for the experience.  It was expensive, and as indulgent and pleasing as it was, I cannot help feeling it was a luxury I can do without. 

On the other hand, if anyone wants to buy me another gift certificate, I would not turn it down. Pampered extravagance feels good – especially if someone else pays for it.