Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas


submitted by: Rita Cook

spa_massage_mastheadThere is nothing quite like the unadulterated thrill of having hands massaging, rubbing and pampering while you sit mindlessly engrossed in the sheer pleasure of it all. Before I ever visited a spa I had no idea what a deep tissue massage was and how it compared to a body wrap, a Thai massage or a bath therapy, now you can’t tear me away.

Even if your budget is screaming “no way,” don’t let your fear of the price tag stop you from looking into a visit to one of the many spas around the world. Some spas cater to the well-to-do traveler, but at the same time many cater to the 18-to-34 year old crowd wanting to enjoy themselves without breaking the bank.

I’ve traveled the United States, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean and found my favorite picks, so check these out on your next out-of-town visit and don’t be afraid to get pampered, sometimes for as little as the price of a dinner would cost.

United States

California – Nowhere does pampering take on such a rewarding meaning as in California where you can enjoy the hot desert of Palm Springs or the cool northern wine country climate.

Desert Springs Marriott Resort & Spa
74855 Palms Desert, California

Good getting acquainted treatments, which touched on my entire body. The Thai massage incorporated acupressure and a variety of yoga-like stretches and the facial spa Kur used marine and mineral elements in combination with aromatherapy scents such as lavender and raspberry.

Sonoma Inn and Spa
P.O. Box 1447
Sonoma, California

This spa is hands down one of my favorites. Maybe it was the lavender Kur I received, or just the lavender plants everywhere on the property. The spa is built above 135-degree mineral waters that are 1,100 feet beneath the inn. Their signature treatment is the Watsu treatment, but opt for the lavender or wine country Kur as well. The rooms are comfy, too. Check out the Jack London suite, expensive during high season.

Ritz Carlton Spa Huntington Hotel and Spa
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena, California

The hotel has been a famed Pasadena landmark for the past 90 years, located at the base of the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. A favorite treatment of mine is one of the Ayurveda treatments. Be sure and have the champagne facial, complete with a glass of champagne. This is one of the best facials I have ever had; the scent, the experience was memorable. The spa also offers great spa packages at affordable prices.

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Country Club Road
Ojai, California

I had a deep-tissue massage here that worked out all the stress in my life. The atmosphere at the spa is a Moorish influence with Spanish Colonial architecture. The signature treatment is the Kuyam, beginning with a self-application of cleaning Moor mud followed by a herb infused steam that softens the mud and provides an excellent inhalation therapy. I also enjoyed the art class, part of the spa and very relaxing.

Arizona – Think desert and think beautiful oasis. Scottsdale and Phoenix have some of the best-known spas in the country.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona

I enjoyed the Four Seasons Signature Massage appropriately named to go with the resort. The therapist, Steve Ellis, was the creator of the massage and as he took me through each of the seasons; winter, spring, summer and fall I went from being cold to refreshed to relaxed to awake. From the body scrub to the massage to the final scalp treatment, this is a must on your list of spa treatments.

Radisson Resort & Spa Scottsdale
7171 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Arizona

I have visited this spa twice and had the luck of getting the same therapist both times.  Ask for Lauren. My latest trip to the Radisson offered a Red Wine and Green Tea Soufflé Wrap and a refreshing Vichy shower following. This is an excellent treatment to induce peace and serenity and to get rid of hard to remove cellulite. The Green Tea Balneotheraphy was also great with 120 warm jets streaming at me as I “took the waters.” The Radisson is all about good deals and it specifically caters to the 18-to-34 year-old crowd.

camelback-spaThe Spa at Camelback Inn
5402 East Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona

I had the Southwest Botanical Facial a combination of ingredients indigenous to the area. The facial was calming and it is known to stimulate cell regeneration and protect against premature aging. Good for sun worshippers who have overdone their time in the sun.

Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa
2400 East Missouri
Phoenix, Arizona

I started out with an edible Cactus Flower Wrap. Exclusively at the Biltmore, you won’t find this treatment anywhere else. Natural products like cactus flower syrup, honey, citrus and native grains and yogurts are designed to make the skin silky smooth and it did. A Hands of Healing massage, which incorporated reflexology and hot stones for overall balance, followed the wrap. Both treatments are highly recommended.

Virginia – Home to Edgar Cayce, think holistic.

Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) Health Services
215 67th Street
Virginia Beach, Virginia

I relaxed with a massage, and it was one of the best massages I have ever received. When I got off the table, I was dizzy from relaxation.  Now that’s a massage.

Total relaxation as I experienced the vanilla coffee exfoliation. An indigenous product, this comes from the island and stimulates the senses with a vanilla coffee mix followed by an orange creme lotion to exfoliate and soften the skin and a final spray of vanilla body mist. The calming massage in the cabana directly next to the ocean was a treatment that won’t soon be forgotten either.

Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Kohala Spa
425 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, Hawaii

I had a nice signature wrap here.  The spa offers several choices of Limu Seaweed, Orchid Isle, Exotic Coco-Mango or the Kiluea heat wrap. Each has a special healing property and Kohala has a signature brand of products that are the best thing I found on the island.

Florida – If you’re in the area it’s worth a stop.

Gaylord Palms Resort Canyon Ranch Spa Club
6000 W. Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, Florida

The largest hotel spa and fitness center in Central Florida. Lots of treatments and pampering so you can take your pick.


The Caribbean has so much to offer, and Jamaica is a jewel you won’t want to miss. Have fun on the beach and then visit a few spas.

Couples Swept Away (Negril)
P.O. Box 3077, Norman Manley Blvd.
Westmoreland, Jamaica, W.I.

I had the hydrotherapy treatment created exclusively by localherbal mystic Buckston Harrison. A nice relaxing 30 minutes in a stone tub – again “taking the waters.”07Hydrotherapy

Half Moon Golf and Tennis Club’s Bodywork Spa
Rose Hall, Jamaica, W.I.

You will feel like you are in the West Indies.  I know I did. The massage was soothing with a blend of lavender and geranium, it definitely relaxed me for the remainder of the day.


In the land down under you can find some amazing spas and the mood is just like in the US, serene and all about the pampering.

Aurora Spa Retreat
2 Acland Street
St Kilda 3182
Victoria, Australia

I had a facial here as the rain poured outside. It seemed very appropriate for the journey I had made to Australia. Beginning with a sage stick to smudge the room, the atmosphere at this spa is one of wellness.  It is considered Melbourne’s only holistic urban retreat. Tucked away and worth the trip.

Crown Spa
Crown Towers Level 3, 8 Whiteman Street
Southbank 3006
Melbourne, Australia

I felt really special at this spa because I had my own treatment room with tub, toilet, shower, magazine rack, and sink. It was like having the therapist come into my home and give me a one-hour body wrap with a massage as well. A luxurious spa and a splurge, but you owe it to yourself to enjoy what this spa has to offer.

The Observatory Hotel
89-113 Kent Street
Sydney, Australia

What is the most amazing news about this spa? The flotation tank treatment that is offered to all guests of the hotel. Additionally, ultimate pampering at great prices using the Li’Tya line, a unique range of natural spa treatments that specifically integrate the wisdom of Aboriginal medicines and healing techniques

Honorable Mention

Canada has one spa worth mentioning called the Ofura Spa located in the Laurentians north of Montreal. It’s a Zen-style atmosphere that is worth the visit.

And of course; Europe. In Europe, spas aren’t about pampering they’re about health. The spa to end all spas is in Belgium in the town of, you guessed it, Spa. It’s here that the original idea came from, and it is a must see on any trip to that country.

A final mention goes to the Mondourg Le Domaine Thermal in Luxembourg. When I was there, it offered everything from Saphire Baths in solid bell metal tubs to La Stone Therapy. And don’t be embarrassed to go nude at spas in Europe.  Nobody cares.

Rita Cook lives in Los Angeles and is the editor of Premier Bride magazine.  She also has a romance novel coming out this winter called “Angel’s Destiny”.