Menage a spa

The Next Family

By: Caren Gillespie

In the not too distant past, going to a Spa for a pampering session was considered only a luxury for the very wealthy or if you were lucky, someone bought you a gift certificate for an occasion.  Well, as a stay at home mom, sometimes the only pampering I receive is my head hitting my pillow.  I tend to shy away from paying loads of money for one hour of someone applying cream on my face or rubbing my back because well, that $120-$200 could buy me a dinner out with some girlfriends, a new pair of jeans, or go toward a vacation.

It takes a lot for me to fork out the money for pampering, but lately, I am realizing that sometimes, in a world of people (big and small) that only really know me as the peacemaker/need-handler, I also need to be “mothered”.

I set out on a quest to figure out the different types of pampering that a frugal mom like me could obtain. I took the plunge and set out to do some…eh-hem… “research” to find the different types of spas that are offered.  In order to do this, I first had to decide the different tiers.  I broke it down into three categories, beauty school, local day-spa, and the high-end hotel/travel spa.

Beauty school

In arriving at the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute of Seattle, I had to remind myself I was actually walking into a very large and hip classroom for wannabe hairstylists and spa folk.  After checking in, I was led downstairs into a dark room with curtains dividing off all the clients, much like a WWII hospital but with better lighting and soothing music.  I remember feeling a bit cold but I was told exactly what to expect by my service provider and I disrobed and prepared for 2 hours of care.  One thing to keep in mind when you visit a school of this nature is that it is a learning environment, and therefore not unusual to hear an instructor come in to help evaluate the “plan” of the student.  The other part that was a bit distracting is the other students were not exactly the most professional –treating it as a classic classroom with giggling and gossiping.  All in all, the goal for pampering was accomplished and the school provided me with some much-needed R&R but not without its drawbacks. ($)

Day Spa

In visiting the day spa, Habtitude of Ballard, I was one of their first appointments and greeted the minute I walked through the door by all those I passed on the floor.  They were genuine in their greeting and I was happy and relaxed being there.  I climbed the stairs to the services area and was greeted by someone who showed me the locker room with robes and a locker for my belongings.  She gave me the choice to sit in the plush waiting room or the sauna until my esthetician was ready for my appointment.  The environment paid homage to the northwest’s Native American roots with its earthy colors and Native American music piping through the rooms.  I felt at home.  My facial was soothing, although I am not a fan of “up selling” which happened for the first 5 minutes of my initial consult.  I gracefully denied the extra miracle creams and massages and was underway.  I then had a massage scheduled and waited for a while for my masseuse.  She came and informed me that she didn’t think I was her client because I didn’t look pregnant.  She explained they had written pregnancy massage for me….not sure about how I felt about that one! In the end, the day spa felt like a place I could visit regularly but the prices are a bit steep and they really nickel and dime you on things like the sauna visit which was $18 on its own.  ($$)

High-End/Travel Spa

After checking into the new Four Seasons in downtown Seattle, I settled into my lovely room and slipped into my complimentary robe and headed to the spa.  I scheduled a Thai Massage at the Spa at Four Seasons and was very curious to experience what it was all about.  The front desk person greeted me and showed me the locker room where I could put on my workout clothing for my massage.  Clothing?  It was explained that this was a massage where I would be stretched and twisted and would need to be comfortably clothed.  I waited in the serene and immaculate relaxing room and waited for my massage therapist while reading a magazine and sipping on chilled lemon water.  The color palette was soothing and pristine throughout the spa.  After being taken into the room filled as advertised with basalt rock and glass tile, she instructed me to lie on a table and explained this was considered a “lazy man’s yoga” and not a traditional massage.  She twisted, rubbed and stretched my limbs for the allotted 80 minutes and for me, being a runner, this was greatly appreciated.  I could have used one of the traditional massages to follow for that chance for aromatherapy and possible slumber.  Instead, I headed back to the dressing room where they provided a lovely tile and marble laden steam room, with eucalyptus spray and ice buckets of lavender-infused washcloths to enhance my experience.  I could have lived there for weeks. After my visit to the Spa at the Four Seasons, I then realized why it was considered a Mecca for pampered souls.  They have it down to a science and have the ability to transport even a local to a place I would rather not leave. ($$$)


($) $20-$50

($$) $75 and up

($$$) $135 and up

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