10 Tips for Making the Most of a Spa Vacation

You've been planning a spa vacation for months, and you're about to leave. Your vacation will surely fly by, as do most fun things in life, so maximize your time to make your experience all it can be.

Read the Spa Literature Before You Go
Read or re-read any information you have on the spa the week before you leave -- or on the plane trip to the spa. Circle any activities that sound especially intriguing, but don't create a set schedule just yet.

Attend the Spa Orientation

Many spas offer a 30- to 90-minute spa orientation led by a spa staffer. Don't miss this event! The staffer will provide you with tips for planning your stay. Take into account what the staffer tells you and ask any questions you may have about activities, time planning or spa amenities. The orientation may also include a guided tour of the spa grounds.

Plan a Balanced Schedule

After attending the orientation or reviewing the class and activities listing, plan what activities you'd like to do each day. You can either do this for the whole week or for the next day before you go to sleep the night before. Most spa experts suggest that you incorporate cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility/relaxation activities into your spa visit. Then you will reap the benefits of these different types of workouts.

Have Realistic Expectations

When you first get to a spa, you may feel like you need to do everything! While you may be tempted to go-go-go just to get it all in, resist this urge. You won't be able to take every class and participate in every activity. Trying to do it all will just make you stressed -- and isn't de-stressing one of the reasons you wanted to go to a spa in the first place? Build in time for breaks. You'll want time to sit by the pool, read a book by your favorite author or just be. If you think you are scheduling too much, ask the advice of the spa staff or simply trust your gut instinct.

Try New Activities

A spa vacation is a great time to experience sports or fitness activities that you can't find at home or don't have time for in your everyday life. Take a tennis lesson. Try a Pilates or Feldenkrais class. Go on a sunrise hike. Don't let yourself be hemmed in by your expectations of what you usually do. Be adventurous!

Make Time for Nurturing

While a spa is a great place to learn more about exercise and do the latest workouts, make sure you take advantage of the spa services. Indulge in a massage, pedicure, facial or one of each. A spa vacation should be a treat. If you are on a tight budget, nurture yourself with activities that are part of the package such as sitting in a sauna, lazing by the pool or walking through scenic gardens.

Just Say "No" to Technology

If possible, leave your cell phone, pager and laptop computer at home. This is your time to focus on you, not to be tied to your normal life with its technological ball and chains! Of course, you may need to call your family or check in with work on occasion. However, do what you can to enjoy your visit. Don't make it feel like you never left the office. If you usually watch many hours of television, take a break and do something different. On the other hand, if watching TV is a treat you don't make time for at home, use it as a nurturing activity!

Listen to Your Inner Voice

While it's helpful to have a plan of how you'll spend your time, be spontaneous. Listen to your gut instinct. You may have signed up for that resistance-training class, but all you really want to do is to meditate in the sun. Go ahead and meditate. A spa vacation is time to nurture all of you: your body, mind and spirit. Trust yourself, too, as far as when you want to enjoy friendly camaraderie with others and when you need to be alone.

Make the Most of Spa Experts

Your spa vacation is an opportunity to receive personalized attention from leading health and fitness experts. Take advantage of this chance! Ask questions before and after class or even schedule a personal training appointment. Spa staffers want to see you improve your health and fitness. In addition to customer service being their jobs, most of them went into spa careers because they derive immense satisfaction out of helping people.

Plan for Your Return Home

Many spas offer sessions on how to bring your spa experience home with you. Be sure to attend them. Think about how you will incorporate what you've learned at the spa. Many spas sell cookbooks that show you how to re-create the spa cuisine when you get home. They also sell exercise videotapes or audiotapes so you can bring the advice of your favorite instructor home with you.


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