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Get Away From Stress

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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike!

July 22, 2008 

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Now, let's see what's in-store for today's edition of 

I've never been very good at relaxing.

In my world, television has always been something you watch
while you're doing something else. Same with music, talking
on the telephone and, I admit, driving. That's right; I'm
the guy behind the wheel at the red light, juggling a cup 
of coffee and a donut while glancing at the newspaper 

For me, the traditional relaxation trinity of beach, book
and brew is doable for about a day. Then I start to get a
little edgy.

It drives my wife crazy. To her, the main purpose of a
vacation is not necessarily to dart all over and see new
stuff, but to get away from stress and relax. 

And she is definitely not alone.

This week's topics include:




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Spas in general, and spa vacations in particular, have been
growing in popularity over the last decade. They cater to an
increasingly stressed-out traveling public searching for a
way to calm down that doesn't involve either screaming kids
with beach balls or sand fleas.

As with last week's beauty tips, I won't even pretend to be
an expert on this one. Instead, I've enlisted the help of
Anita Brown, author of About.com guide to spas

The information she provided was instrumental in putting
together this week's tips for spa-related travel. Here they

* Spa selection

The first thing you need to do is decide which kind of a spa
you want to go to; a destination spa or a resort spa. 

At destination spas, the whole environment is geared towards
fitness, healthy eating, relaxation and renewal. You will be
with like-minded people in a total "immersion" experience.

It tends to be expensive, although prices range widely, from
about $200 per person per day (double-occupancy) to upwards
of $6,000 a week. The prices generally include all meals and
regular exercise classes. Spa treatments like massages and
facials are sometimes included in the package, but they
often cost extra. 

A resort spa allows you to enjoy as much or as little of the
spa experience you want. Here, there are all kinds of other
things going on - from swimming and shuffleboard to hiking
and horseback riding. Spa treatments are just another item
on the menu of attractions and you order them a la carte. 
If you're not sure where your spa fits in, check the rest-
aurants. Resort spas will offer spa cuisine - but also 
burgers and fries. 

* Research 

There is no universal, agreed-upon definition of "Spa". That
makes doing your homework imperative. Someone might try to
pass off his Jacuzzi and a treatment room in his house as a
spa clinic.

Look for photos on the websites of possible spa destinations. 
Find a description of the facilities, including the number 
of treatment rooms. Find out what's included and what's not. 
Are meals part of the price, or will you have to budget extra 
to eat?

* Book early

Book your reservation as soon as possible. Don't wait until
you get there! Chances are you won't get the treatment you
want or the time you are looking for, and that could put a
crimp in your relaxation schedule. On weekends, you might
have a hard time getting in at all. 

* Book carefully

If the spa has lots of classes and programs, check their
schedule when you're making your spa treatment appointments.
If there is a lecture or class you really want to attend,
make sure there are no scheduling conflicts. 

* Book a block

If you want to actually feel rested and renewed after a spa
vacation, try to stay at least three nights. 

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* Maximize your time

If you're going to a destination spa, stay at a less
expensive bed and breakfast or motel the night before, then
head over in the morning to get a full day of activities in.
They'll let you stash your bags and use a locker till 
check-in time. You can use the same strategy on the way out. 

* Peruse for packages

When you call about reservations, ask about packages. At
times, a package deal is a better bargain than choosing
individual treatment.

* Consult your belly

Do you want a restricted calorie experience or all you can
eat? Find out their food philosophy before you go. 

* Medical issues

Discuss any medical issues you may have before booking any
treatments. Make sure they're aware of any allergies or
prescription medication you have. it's probably a good idea
to have a talk with your personal doctor before you go.

* Get the naked truth

Be sure to check with the spa for their general policy and
ambience on nudity.  Some destination spas or resorts offer
services where you and others may be partially or fully
nude, such as steam rooms, mud bath areas, etc. Phone the
spa before scheduling appointments so you understand what
you're getting yourself into. Again, the whole idea is to
relax. You can't really do that if you're worried about
people looking at things that you’ve normally got hidden.

* Location, location, location

Do you want to be in town or in the country? Photos can be
deceiving. Find out exactly where the facility is located.
You don't want to have your expectation meter set for
chirping birds only to hear nothing but traffic.

* Work up a sweat

Think about taking a fitness class before your treatment.
This makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable and

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* Limit yourself

A destination spa often offers you so much that it becomes
hard for you to choose. People programmed for multi-tasking
- like myself -  try to enjoy all of it and end up enjoying
nothing. Don't even try to that. 

First, decide what you really are looking for. If it is just
a bit of pampering and pleasure then go for the related
activities. But if you are more interested in a spiritual
journey then obviously, your focus would be on other

* Toss the phone

Once you are called for the treatments remember to leave
behind your cell phone or pager. A ringing cell phone or a
beeping pager is rude. Besides, you deserve a break from the
outside world. And answering calls would defeat the purpose
of being in a spa.

* Avoid weekends

Stay during the week for the lowest rates. Destination spas
usually have a three-night minimum. A Thursday night arrival
will cost more than a Sunday night arrival. 

* Think about the season

It's basic Travel Tips 101, but people often don't consider
it when it comes to spa vacations. Travel in the off-season.
In the Northeast, rates are lower in the winter, higher in
the summer. It's the reverse in the Southwest and Florida.

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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