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Planning Retirement Online


                                       November 2010  



SpasI doubt many of us had heard of the word “spa” when we were kids. Spas did exist of course, but they generally meant an area where there was a natural spring of mineral enriched water, possibly with some adjacent commercial buildings offering additional massages or other treatments.

Certainly, a few decades ago people rarely went on holidays to resort spas, or had “hot spas” installed in their homes. Today though, spas are everywhere. High street shops offer spa treatments; brochures offer spa destinations, the use of the word is everywhere.

The main thing a modern spa should offer is relaxation in quiet and enjoyable surroundings. Under that umbrella, the choice is endless.

Spas can offer a wide range of different treatments to improve wellbeing, from massage and simple facials to a host of specialised body and mind treatments. A spa can be used to help you improve your fitness, to detoxify your body, to gain inner peace and balance, or to learn about diet and nutrition. Generally a spa is pampering and nurturing; calming and also rejuvenation are key features of treatments and experiences. The word tranquillity is used a lot in association with spas.

Day spas are probably the most popular these days and cover all the operations that offer treatments on a one-off basis, or on a daily visit basis. You can arrange quick visits for simple facials right up to full day treatments. There is no average price as costs vary greatly according to the treatment and also the ambiance; some spas are fairly basic while others have invested heavily to ensure maximum luxury with hugely expensive products.

Destination spas offer treatments that need at least two days to be completed, and often longer. They are usually based around a specific theme and include specifically built spa resorts in some quite exotic locations. While there are a number here in the UK where you can go for a weekend to refresh and rejuvenate through various treatments, you can also select from an incredibly wide range across the globe. For instance, there is a longevity wellbeing boost week in Portugal, or a holistic spa experience with yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes in Thailand. The choice today is overwhelming.

Resort and hotel spas are different from destination spas in that they are geared towards holiday makers or business people who want to include some spa treatments as part of a varied agenda. Usually you can book various short treatments on a one-off basis.

Medical spas offer specific treatments that require professional or medical supervision. For instance, treatment at European medical spas can cover health problems from rheumatism and disc prolapse to circulatory and nervous system problems, spine and neck conditions.

Mineral spas are based on the traditional connotations of the word, natural mineral, thermal or seawater treatments. They are often located around traditional areas of hot springs and lakes which have been used as medical therapies for centuries. The waters at mineral spas can vary greatly, and can be rich in various minerals which are deemed beneficial for health. Often, the treatment is simply to immerse yourself in what is usually warm water and so some of these spas attract visitors who attend just for pleasure rather than specific health benefits.

Really spas today cover such a wide range of facilities, treatments and locations that finding out what is best for you can be very time consuming. Word of mouth is always a good way to start, but otherwise look on the web. By indicating the type of treatment you might like and the location and price range, you can soon reduce the number of names to manageable proportions. It is common sense of course, but especially for overseas spas, do check for qualifications, recommendations and other background information before committing yourself. There is no global regulation of people who use the word “spa”.

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