Trip Coach: May 23, 2006

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Lynne Walker McNees, President of the International SPA Association,  answered your questions on spa vacations

Lynne Walker McNees: Hello - hope you are having a nice day. I am Lynne Walker McNees, President of the International SPA Association. Thanks for joining me today. I'm happy to answer your questions.

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Arlington TX: For any massage, how do I ask if the masseuse is aware of how to adapt to the needs of diabetic persons?

Lynne Walker McNees : A spa experience is your time to relax, reflect, revitalize and rejoice. The therapist's want to do everything to make you feel comfortable.

You should call the spa before your arrival and talk with the spa director or manager about your concerns. They are accustomed to customizing treatments and will be happy to make your time at their spa a wonderful experience!

Additionally, the American Massage Therapy Association is a good resource for additional questions about massage. Their Web site is http://www.amtamassage.org/.

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New York, NY: My girlfriend and I travel for long weekends about once a year. We also like to spend a few hours at a spa and wind up ducking into whatever spa crosses our path upon our arrival. Are there any good websites that we can research spa deals in specific city before we arrive? Every website I find lists spas, but not their specials or what spa in the city will give us the best value.

Our next trip will be to Miami, FL on June 15-18.

Thanks,

Sara 

Lynne Walker McNees : Sara - you and your friend are doing something that we are seeing a lot in the spa industry - taking girlfriends' trips to the spa! Miami is a thriving spa area and you will be able to find a lot of wonderful locations in the city. There are numerous Web sites for researching spa deals. These include:

  • ISPA's Web site - http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/
  • http://www.spafinder.com/
  • http://www.spamagazine.com/
  • http://www.destinationspa.com/
  • http://www.discoverspas.com/
  • http://www.healinglifestyles.com/
  • http://www.dayspaassociation.com/
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    San Diego, CA: Lynne, what kinds of general questions should you ask the spa before booking? Any general tips or things to look out for? Are there certifications or health reports one can check in advance? Thanks!

    Lynne Walker McNees : This is a question that we receive a lot at ISPA. I'll list a few key tips and you can find a complete list of frequently asked questions in our "Spa 101" on our Web site - http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/.

    First of all - ask questions and do your homework. After you've determined the type of spa you want to visit, call the spa and ask them all your questions before you arrive. Professional spa operators will be happy to answer your questions and put you at ease.

    Check to see if the spa is a member of ISPA. In order for a spa to become an ISPA member, the facility must meet requirements pertaining to staffing, safety, guest relations and service per the association's Standards & Practices and Code of Ethics.

    Spas offer a menu of services that describes each treatment and its therapeutic value. Becoming familiar with the service you are having performed will make you more comfortable. Also check out www.experienceispa.com for a full glossary of spa terms and their definitions.

    At the time of booking, express whether you prefer a male or female therapist. And, also ask about the spa's cancellation policy. It's a good rule of thumb to arrive 30 minutes prior to your treatment in order to check in and begin decompressing.

    It's important to ask a spa's tipping policy at the front desk when you arrive. Spas have different policies on tipping, but generally it is accepted. Some spas automatically include the tip on the bill as a service charge.

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    Brooklyn, NY: I'm planning a trip to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Any interesting budget spas in that area? We love just soaking, steaming, and enjoying local spa traditions. Thanks!

    Lynne Walker McNees : Canada is a growth area for spas and we have several members in Vancouver. Finding a spa on ISPA's Web site (http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/) is simple. From the home page, please click on "Visit a Spa" and then click on "Search for a Spa." From there, you can search for ISPA members by location, type of spa, services offered and several other options.

    Additionally, The Leading Spas of Canada is a great resource - http://www.leadingspasofcanada.com/. Good luck!

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    bemus point, NY: Where could 5-6 girlfriends go on a vacation--without husbands or kids--for 4-5 days that would be a low cost vacation--approx. $500 each?

    Lynne Walker McNees : ISPA members are increasingly seeing groups of girlfriends taking vacations without husbands or children in tow. It sounds like a destination spa would be a great place to start. Destination spas offer complete fitness, relaxation, healthy cuisine and spa treatments in one setting. There are also numerous classes offered at destination spas, such as those on cooking, knitting, painting, nutrition and reducing stress.

    ISPA has many members that are destination spas and you can find those on our Web site at http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/. Additionally, the Destination Spa Group would be a great resource for you - http://www.destinationspa.com/.

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    Lakewood, NY: Hi there, My fiance' and I are pooped! We are near the climax of planning and almost ready to walk down the aisle. We will marry on June 3, 2006. We've decided to put off a long honeymoon until next winter. It seemed like a good idea months ago; but now, I think we need at least a long weekend getaway to regroup. We live in western New York and are looking for a place that we can drive to in less than 5 hours. It would just be the two of us. The most important factor is that we can relax there. Can you help us find a reasonably priced, long-weekend vacation spot? Thanks for your help, we really appreciate it! -

    Gretchen

    Lynne Walker McNees : Hello Gretchen - congratulations on your wedding! Brides-to-be and newlyweds are definitely going to spas in record numbers. Additionally, numerous ISPA members offer treatments and packages for couples.

    The Northeast has the majority of spas in the U.S. - so you will have a lot to choose from. The area features numerous charming inns and historic hotels that have added top-notch spas. The "Search for a spa" section of ISPA's Web site (http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/) would be great for you. Have a great time!

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    Sterling, VA: I will be traveling to Singapore on July 12th-26th. I would like to make a trip to a spa while I'm there, but I will be on a tight budget. What do you recommend as a good spa? Are there any treatments that are special from that part of the world?

    Lynne Walker McNees : Asia is experiencing tremendous spa growth. Recently, I was in Thailand and have visited Singapore many times. Treatments featuring ingredients that are local and/or indigenous to Asia are someting you should experience in Singapore. Additionally, Thai Massage, as you can imagine, is very popular in Asia.

    ISPA has more than 2,500 members in 73 countries, with many members in Singapore. You can use the "Search for a spa" section of http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/ to find members in Singapore. Additionally, http://www.spafinder.com/ and SpaAsia Magazine would be helpful to you. Have a great trip!

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    St. Paul, Minnesota: I remember seeing recently a survey regarding spa vacations that ranked the US spas by services and price. I can't seem to find that article. I am interested in finding a spa that offers a relaxing experience at a reasonable cost. Any suggestions, or tips about where I can find that article again? Thank you. Christi

    Lynne Walker McNees : Hello Christi - just as you can find a restaurant or hotel in any price range, you can also find a spa to fit your budget. ISPA's Web site (www.experienceispa.com)would be helpful to you in finding a spa at a reasonable cost.

    Numerous publications feature spa listings. Suggestions include Spa Magazine, Luxury Spa Finder, Healing Lifestyles & Spas, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

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    Portland, OR: Any recommendations for spas that cater to men? Or spas that offer spa packages for men?

    Lynne Walker McNees : Men make up 31% of spa-goers and there are plenty of great options available to them. There are men-only spas in nearly all major cites including New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle.

    Additionally, many ISPA members offer special packages and treatments for men. You can visit the "Visit a spa" section of http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/ to find men-only spas as well as spas that offer packages for men.

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    Austin, TX: Could you tell me a little bit about the newest trends and/or treatments at spas? Thank you.

    Lynne Walker McNees : As the spa industry is the fourth largest leisure industry, there are lot of trends to talk about! As the spa lifestyle is woven more prominently into mainstream culture, several newsworthy trends are actually becoming expectations for spa-goers.

    Notable trends include: Spas worldwide are offering one-of-a-kind experiences to guests, while also creating a unique point of differentiation between each property, by incorporating elements into treatments that are indigenous to each locale. Incorporating local ingredients into a spa's offerings makes the experience even more interesting, rejuvenating and memorable for the guest.

    ISPA members have also seen a surge in spa-goers looking for healthy aging treatments that deliver results. The emphasis for spa-goers is increasingly that of self-preservation. Therefore, spas have gained a new aura of respectability.

    Spa at home -- From cooking classes, to lessons on balance and managing stress, lifestyle classes at spas teach guests how to take the healthy lessons of the spa home with them. Additionally -- spa décor -- including tubs, showers, products and massage tables as well as clothing and candles is mainstream.

    Spas are in health clubs, resorts/hotels, doctors are adding spa elements to their practices, and you can find treatments being offered in airports, malls and on cruise ships. Additionally, there are spa lifestyle communities and living at the spa through rental and ownership programs at destination and resort/hotel spas.

    Spa-ing as a group -- Groups going to spas (families, girlfriends, business associates, bridal parties) is an ongoing movement. For those who are new to spas, a group outing may be a more comfortable setting. Activities such as hiking, yoga and dance classes are popular with groups. And, spa suites are a popular way to accommodate several people at the same time for treatments.

    Booking time, instead of a treatment -- Reserving a block of time, instead of a treatment, gives the consumer the flexibility to choose what they want based on how they feel when they arrive at the spa. It's all about consumer demand

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    Brooklyn, NY: Hi, My brother and I are looking to take a trip together. I am adventurous and my brother has never left the country. We are both in our 20's and we are looking at everything from Southeast Asia to Europe as options. We are open, but do not want to spend too much. My brother is in law school and I am working, but have limited time off. Our trip will be in August for 7-10 days. Can you provide suggestions on interesting international destinations for my brother and I that won't break the bank?

    Thanks,

    Derric

    Lynne Walker McNees : Hello Derric - this sounds like a great adventure! I suggest that, first of all, you do your homework. Look for locations where the dollar is strong. ISPA has many travel agents as members and they are a great resource for planning a spa vaction outside of your own country. You can access ISPA's travel egent members on our Web site at www.experienceispa.com.

    Countries with numerous spas include Thailand, China, Indonesia in Asia and Germany, Ireland and Scotland in Europe. SpaAsia Magazine as well as http://www.spafinder.com/ and http://www.spamagazine.com/ are additional resources that should prove helpful.

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    Pasadena California: I am a seminary student on a budget but would love to enjoy a spa with a friend to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday. I live in Southern California and know that there is an abundance to choose from. I am looking for one in the surrounding area (within 100 miles) that is relaxing, a retreat and somewhat affordable.

    Lynne Walker McNees : You are in luck as you live in an area that has a wealth of ISPA members. ISPA's Web site has a function that allows you to search for spas within a region. You can access that function from http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/, then click on "Visit a Spa," followed by "Search for a Spa."

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    Lynne Walker McNees : Thank you for all of your questions. As the voice of the spa industry, ISPA strives to educate consumers on the benefits of the spa experience. ISPA's Web site is a great resource for additional questions - http://www.experienceispa.com/ISPA/ and you can e-mail the ISPA staff at ispa@ispastaff.com.

    Have a great day! Lynne Walker McNees, ISPA President _______________________

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