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Types of Spas

Although all spas generally have the same goal in mind – to help you get in balance, relax and rejuvenate – they do have differences worth noting. The table below provides you with a very quick and easy guide as to the differences between each type.

Spa Type Description Who it is good for Tips
Cruise Spa What is a Cruise Spa? As its name implies, these are found aboard cruise ships. Name brands like Canyon Ranch are found on some of the more pricey Cruise Lines.
  • Sea-faring Goddesses: You love the ocean, and think the spa is one way to enjoy the gentle rocking of the waves
  • Due to the limited space and access to products aboard cruise ships, offerings and services may not be that robust. That said, the industry is changing and may start to include more spa-geared cruise experiences
Day Spa What is a Day Spa? Meant for those who want to spend a day, 1/2 a day, a couple of hours or even just an hour relaxing, rejuvenating and refreshing.
  • Busy Bees: Squeeze in a quick visit into your hectic schedule
  • Cost Conscious Cuties: Get pampered without the extra cost of travel and accommodations
  • Spa Newbies: Safe and affordable, you can get an experience in a low cost and low commitment way
  • Look in your local community publications, CitySearch, and Zagat for recommendations
  • Beware of ‘Day Spas’ that focus mostly on Salon services, but offer facials and massages as secondary services. Some can be good, but others can be highly disappointing and may not have licensed professionals administering treatments
Dental Spa What is a Dental Spa? Dental offices have been converting their practices to offer a more soothing experience rather than one wrought with anxiety. These facilities have incorporated spa elements such as massage dental chairs, less painful administration of anesthesia and soothing music.
  • Anxious Dental Patients: You hate going to the dentist, but you love going to the spa
  • Time Crunchers: You love the idea of getting your teeth cleaned and your weekly massage all at once
  • Don’t sacrifice quality of dentistry for perceived comfort and pampering, especially for more serious procedures
  • Always be sure your dentist is qualified, board certified and has a solid reputation
Destination Spa What is a Destination Spa? Often located in exotic or appealing destinations, these spas offer a retreat centered on spa and wellness. Programs and treatments are focused on lifestyle improvement, wellness and health enhancement through services, physical fitness, educational programs and on-site accommodations.
  • Spa-Enthusiasts: You have time and money to dedicate a couple to several days/nights to a spa getaway
  • Transformers: You are looking to make a big change, and you could use a little guidance and motivation to set you on your way
  • Understand the mission and goal of the spa you are considering. Some are very structured, while others only provide guidelines. Decide what will be best aligned to your personality and needs so that it is a successful experience
  • If you require a lot of structure, be sure that regiments and programs are highly formulated. If you prefer more of a guided approach, ensure that there is flexibility in the programs offered
Eco-Spa What is an Eco-Spa? Many are set in a natural or protected area and have a major commitment to incorporating environmentally friendly practices, such as organic gardening, water conservation, use of natural and organic products and ecological building design. Through operational practice and education of guests, they encourage sensitivity to the natural environment and wildlife, and may also promote the well-being of local people and culture by preserving indigenous healing traditions and ingredients.
  • Environmentally minded ladies: You look for ways to be more sustainable in your day to day life – you eat organic food, are resource and energy conscious, recycle, and aim at using all natural products
  • Currently, there is no rating system on how sustainable spas are. As a result, it is important to call ahead and understand what practices the spa has in place that makes it an ‘Eco-Spa’
  • Don’t discount spas that haven’t gone for the eco-spa label. As consumers become more green-savvy, spas will change to become more sustainable, but may not label themselves as an eco-spa
  • Call the spa and ask questions that are very specific to what you are looking for
  • Hotel / Resort Spa What is a Hotel or Resort Spa?As travelers (both business and leisure) become more spa-savvy, resorts and hotels are incorporating spas into their properties. Hotel Spas, often located in suburban and urban areas, like to supplement revenue by offering access to outside / local community. These properties enable you to have a robust offering of activities in addition to spa.
    • Leisure travelers: While on vacation you want to relax, rejuvenate, or be pampered, but you are looking for other activities as well
    • Business Travelers: While traveling on business, you need to de-stress or maintain your wellness regimen
    • Visit the property’s website to understand what you can expect
    • Ask the Spa Manager/Director which is their most popular treatment and who is their most popular therapist (E.g., masseuse, aesthetician). Don’t ask what or who is the best, as they will most likely tell you everything and everyone is great
    • See if the property is listed and reviewed on www.spafinder.com or www.spamagazine.com
    • Ask if the spa allows the outside community to use the spa. Outside clientele may impact the feel and experience negatively
    Mega-Spa What is a Mega-Spa? A Spa that is part of a mega-hotel, often having very large facilities and a very high number of treatment rooms. Mostly seen in casinos and large hotels in places like Las Vegas, where hotels have over 1,000 rooms.
    • Mega-Hotel Guest: Spa isn’t your first priority, but it is definitely something you want to do during your trip
    • No matter how beautiful or luxurious the property, the experience is very different at a mega-spa. There may be 50 – 60 individuals queued up for treatments at a time
    • If it is a more intimate experience you are looking for, ask if there are low-peak times for services so that you don’t feel like you are part of a cattle call
    Mineral Springs Spa What is a Mineral Springs Spa? Located on natural mineral or thermal springs, these spas focus treatments around hydrotherapy. The most benefits come from the natural healing minerals found in the springs.
    • Bathing Beauties: You love bath time, especially when it incorporates natural minerals that do great things for you, inside and out
    • Most often, treatments are focused around the natural waters that are located on the property; however, some of these spas are very robust and offer as much as a destination spa
    Mobile Spa What is a Mobile Spa? These spas have brought the idea of spa ‘home’ by taking the spa to you, making it easy to enjoy spa services anywhere at any time.. Most of these companies can customize services to you or your group’s needs.
    • Lazy ladies: You hate the idea of leaving home in order to relax, rejuvenate or maintain your wellness regimen
    • Group-Goers: You and your friends want to experience spa together…great idea for birthdays, bridal showers, etc.
    • Understand reservation and cancellation timing and policies to be sure that you have enough time to make and break appointments.
    • Check CitySearch and other local rating venues to get consumer insights and feedback
    Medical Spa What is a Medical Spa? Medical groups and spas have come together helping patients who need rehabilitation or post-operation care. They provide comprehensive wellness and preventive care programs geared towards anti-aging, centered on western medical concepts, alternative medicine, or an integration of the two (integrative medicine). In order to achieve lasting well-being, these spas emphasize links between mind, body, and spirit and/or identify and address health risks before the onset of illness.
    • Post-Op patients: You prefer a more holistic approach to healing and getting back up on your feet
    • Proactive / prevention minded: You rather beat the disease or ailment before you know you even have it
    • Medical Spas sometimes use the term Medi or Med Spa. Research ahead of time to be sure that you know what practices, services and products the spa offers
    Medi-Spa** What is a Medi-Spa? Centered on western practices of aesthetic enhancement (think collagen or Botox), most treatments are reactive in nature. Some will incorporate therapeutic spa treatments as well. Physicians and licensed healthcare professionals supervise medical personnel full-time. Most treatments are considered minimally invasive, however, some spas will offer consultations with surgeons for more aggressive treatments. Not evaluated
    • Each region has its own set of regulations dictating who can perform laser and injectable services. Some require doctors to perform them, while others allow trained medical staff (registered nurses, nurse practitioners). Be sure you know your state’s regulations so that you are best protected against mal-practice
    • Treatments that are even the slightest bit invasive (E.g., non-topical, reaches layers of skin below the surface, uses harsh abrasives, technologies or chemicals) are risky and may cause side effects or unwanted results. Be sure you know and understand all the risks associated with the service before undergoing the procedure

    * Varies depending on the individual spa.
    ** SheerBalance.com does not promote or advocate the use of Medi-Spas. This information is only for reference and does not reflect SheerBalance.com’s mission.

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