Tahlequah Daily Press

Checking It Out

April 25, 2008

Spas offer blissful retreat from reality

TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS — When my husband and I go on vacation, we like to treat ourselves to a couple of hours of relaxation at a local spa. On such occasions, we’ve left our teenage son in the hotel room, where we hoped free reign with the TV remote would keep him out of trouble. Thankfully, it always has.

Although many spas are now starting to offer services for teens, I personally don’t think they belong there. I consider a spa a sanctuary for grownups – a way for a couple to reward each other for surviving another protracted period of everyday grind.

Almost every city to which you might travel this summer has a selection of spas, many quite upscale. But there are also a surprising number of places with reasonably priced services, and if you set aside a little cash from your paychecks for a month or two, you can pick from a menu almost as varied as that of a Chinese restaurant.

Since we try to spend a few days in Chicago every year, my husband and I have found a spa there we love. Spa Space (www.spaspace.com) is just off the famed “Loop,” and as guests at the Monaco Hotel (we would never dream of staying anywhere else), we get a discount. We think Spa Space has exceptional service and ambiance, so I can’t say it’s “typical” in that sense. But its list of services can stand as a good example to help me explain the basics of a visit to a “typical” spa, and what you can expect.

Before you call to make reservations, plan to set aside at least two hours. If you’re a first-time spa-goer, I suggest you start with a basic Swedish massage, for at least an hour. If you don’t want a longer massage, throw in a facial or a pedicure to complete your ritual. When you make your appointment, you’ll be asked what services you want, and it’s helpful if you have a list in front of you. The person you talk to will explain anything you don’t understand, but most spas have Web sites detailing their services and price lists. Don’t forget to figure in at least an 18 percent tip for any therapist or technician who works on you. The gratuity is deserved; it’s no easy feat to rub muscles for a couple of hours! You’ll also be asked whether you prefer a male or female therapist; in my husband’s case and my own, we always ask for females, because we feel more comfortable with them.

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