Time It Right
The average price of a spa treatment in the United States is $75, but it climbs well into the three-digit range in major cities. Make the most of your investment!
If you don't work a regular 9-to-5 day, head to the spa early in the week. Some smaller ones offer discounts Monday through Wednesday (particularly before 3 p.m.). "The spa will also be quieter then, and you'll get more individual attention," says Alexis Ufland, who's helped create spas like the Mezzanine Spa in New York City and Avia Spa in Santa Barbara.
Consider a Package Deal
If you're interested in getting more than one treatment, check out the package portion of the spa's menu. "Spa packages aren't these eight-hour 'Queen for a Day' things anymore," says Ufland. "They're usually just two or three services, and on average, you'll get a 10 percent discount. You might also get a complimentary lunch or a free product."
Find Something Special
"People call all the time to ask if we're running any specials," says Marilyn Jaeger, owner of Marilyn Jaeger Skincare Studio in San Francisco. "Most spas do a couple of promotions a year, and you can get a great break on certain services." Recently, for example, Jaeger was offering microdermabrasion treatments at $75 instead of $150. The website spa-addicts.com offers deals on services at spas across the country; just search by state and find specials on everything from massage to waxing.
Look for Bells and Whistles
"Ask questions when you book a service, to find out what else is included," says Cornelia Zicu, owner of Cornelia Day Resort in New York City. "Will you get a hand and foot massage with your facial? A scalp massage with your wrap?" At Cornelia, a body wrap includes pretreatment hydrotherapy (translation: a really fancy, candlelit, Calgon-commercial bath), and during all facials, a second aesthetician massages your hands and feet.
The spa should book your appointments in the most logical sequence. In case they don't, a quick primer, scrubs and wraps should come before massages (the oils and balms will be better absorbed by exfoliated skin), and facials after (do you want to stick your face in that massage table doughnut thing after a facial?). Manicures and pedicures should always be last, to avoid smudging.
Take Advantage of the Facilities
Even if you're getting only one treatment, you can often spend an afternoon at the spa if it has a sauna, steam room, or hot tub.
Show up 20 minutes early, and you can enjoy the steam room before your treatment (a great way to warm up your muscles before a massage, by the way). Show up 20 minutes late, and you may end up getting a 40-minute service for the price of an hour.
"If the music is grating on your nerves or the air conditioner is blowing on your head, say so immediately," says Jaeger. "There's no need to wait for the aesthetician to ask if you're comfortable."