Today Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel & Bookpleasures interviews Susie Ellis, President of Spa Finder Inc.
Could you tell us a little about yourself and your expertise in spas, and why you became interested in them?
I was athletic in my youth and naturally gravitated toward being as healthy as possible. After college in the mid 70’s, I began working at the Golden Door Spa which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the top spa in the country. After spending many years on staff, I became enthralled with how people’s lives were transformed after just a one-week stay at this famous place. I decided to make spa my life’s work, and the combination of movement, good nutrition, spa therapies and a mind/body/spirit approach to wellness became a passion. And lucky for me, the spa industry, which was just emerging at the time, was poised for explosive growth.
Why have spas continued to grow and have become popular over the past several years?
I see three general trends that have come together to precipitate the popularity of spas.
1. The aging baby boomer. This demographic wants to maintain youth and vigor. Spas are a perfect place to achieve these goals.
2. Stress. The non-stop bombardment of information and connectivity is creating a need for people to have places to decompress, de-stress, slow down and pay attention to their body, mind and spirit.
3. A troubled health care system means people of all ages must become more responsible for their wellness and health.
How do you go about identifying top-notch romantic spas in terms of quality of treatment, fitness, relaxation, location, atmosphere, and staff?
Truly the best way to identify romantic spas is to consult the romantic/honeymoon spa category on http://www.spafinder.com. There are almost 50 romantic spas listed. Spa Finder’s mission is to connect people with their ideal spa experience, and we also present spas in 20 other categories such as: weight loss spas, spas for horseback riding, hiking spas, spas for yoga, etc.
As a follow up which ones would make the top ten on your list?
Here are a few of my favorite romantic spas in the U.S.:
Mirbeau, New York
Chateau Elan, Georgia
Miramante Resort & Spa, California
Emerson, New York
The Spa at Sundance, Utah
Hampton Retreats, New York
Mana Lani , Hawaii
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Arizona
Westglow, North Carolina
Outside of the U.S.:
Brenner’s Park, Baden Baden, Germany
CuisinArt Resort & Spa, Anguilla
El Santuario, Mexico
Samas, Park Kenmare Hotel, Ireland
Echo Valley Ranch Resort, Canada
What are the benefits of spa treatments for honeymooners and romantic getaways for couples in search of de-stress?
There are many ways to de-stress and spas specialize in this. Exercise is an excellent de-stresser. Bathing in hot water is a de-stresser. Massages are for many the ultimate de-stresser. At spas people typically leave their outside world behind, they slow down and their bodies become more relaxed. A spa has nurturing staff and there is lovely food that doesn’t intoxicate but rather revitalizes. I think that what spas do is help us get back to who we really are and connecting at that level is always romantic.
What spa treatments are especially recommended for those new to the spa experience?
I think a good place to start for a newcomer is with a Swedish Massage and a facial. These are still the most favorite spa treatments because people love them. Although there are many wonderful treatments on most spa’s menus, such as hot stone massage, Ayruvedic treatments or even body scrubs and wraps, I would not recommend them for the first time spa-goer. Strongsville Spa
For a first time romantic experience, I would suggest choosing a “couple’s massage” where both of you are in the same room for your treatment. Sometimes this can include a bathing ritual for the two of you together before or after…very romantic!
And finally, if a spa has a “signature treatment” that might also be a good place for a first time spa-goer to begin. Often this is an experience with more than one element – like a scrub and a massage, or a foot ritual and massage, etc.
And I do suggest that a person let the receptionist know that this is their first time spa experience so that the attendant and therapist can be a bit more thorough about explaining procedures and protocol.
What is meant by “destination spas,” and how do you differentiate them from other spas as well as between themselves?
That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. In the world of spas we segment them into various categories. The most general categories are resort/hotel spas, day spas and destination spas. The resort/hotel spa is part of a hotel or resort where there are also activities such as golf, tennis, fine dining, etc. The spa is one of the amenities. A day spa is a place where people go for a spa experience but do not stay overnight – this can be for one spa treatment or for several or even for an entire day. Then there is the destination spa. Think of them as places to stay overnight with programs that makes it a full immersion spa experience. In other words, everyone is there for the spa experience. Canyon Ranch Health Resorts and the Golden Door are good examples of a destination spa. La Costa or The Doral are examples of resort/hotel spas and Bliss or Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door are examples of day spas.