Bringing the Spa Experience Home...For Good
By Rebecca J. Razo, online content manager
I have always been a bit of a late bloomer. It took me ages before I finally accepted massage therapy as a form of preventive health care rather than an occasional indulgence. I had "treated" myself to a relaxation massage once or twice, but it wasn't until I was in a car accident that I began receiving regular massage therapy as part of my rehabilitation.
At the time, I thought of massage only as a way to ease my back pain so that I could eventually resume my normal activities. It never occurred to me that massage therapy in and of itself might actually help keep me well, too. But as time went on, I began to see that my weekly massages were not just helpful in treating my back pain; they were also effective in reducing my stress, promoting a better night's sleep, and leaving me with an overall sense of well-being.
Right about the time I got comfortable incorporating regular massage therapy into my lifestyle, a new concept began to evolve: regular spa treatments for wellness. Sure, I could have regular massage therapy as part of my preventive wellness plan, but regular spa treatments, too? They're just a luxury...aren't they?
Not anymore. According to a recent press release issued by Spa Finder magazine, residential spa communities -- that is, spa lifestyle real estate properties -- are popping up all over the map. World renowned spa resorts, including Canyon Ranch, Golden Door and Miraval, are pulling out all the stops and developing residential properties that coincide with the spa concept in an effort to appeal to health-conscious baby boomers who want to retire in style.1 Certainly, the concept of residential spa communitites is playing on the enormous growth of the industry as a whole over the past few years.
According to the International Spa Association (ISPA) 2004 Spa Industry Study, the U.S. spa industry generated an estimated $11.2 billion in revenue in 2003. The study also notes changes in consumer attitudes toward spa, including a move away from the belief that visits to a spa are indulgences. An increasing number of consumers now look toward the spa experience as "self-preservation,"2 which would certainly explain the concept of "owning" the spa lifestyle vis-à-vis property ownership.
In short, residential spa properties "combine luxury living with a spa component...transforming the spa from something you merely go to into something you can also live in."1 Among the benefits of living in a spa community are amenities that include spa cuisine, fitness facilities, hiking, yoga and wellness programs.
"When it comes to luxury living, spas are becoming what golf courses became 30 years ago -- a must-have amenity, providing aging baby boomers with their most important lifestyle requirements, namely health, wellness and fitness, pursued in a spa setting," says Susie Ellis, president of Spa Finder, Inc. "The idea of living in a community where the spa and spa living are central holds tremendous appeal, particularly for a new generation of health-focused vacation and second home buyers; it's an idea whose time has come."1
Although its time may have come, for most people, its affordability has not. Indeed, residential spa properties are being marketed primarily to the affluent, health-focused consumer. But just because you are not at a point in your life where you can retire to a spa community (Don't worry, neither am I) does not mean you must deprive yourself of the spa experience altogether, and it certainly doesn't mean that you can't incorporate spa therapies into aspects of your daily life. In fact, just a few small adjustments to your routine can bring about great rewards:
Turn your bathroom into your spa. It takes little more than a few aromatherapy candles, some soothing music, an inflatible head pillow, and some basic products from a local day spa, such as bath salts and a facial mask, to create your own spa-like setting. Set aside time once a week to retreat to your haven for some alone time (Remember to send your spouse and the kids out to dinner!) so you can soak in a warm tub, give yourself a facial or pedicure, or just unwind. In less than an hour, you'll emerge with a renewed sense of self and spirit.
Meditate. Regular meditation has been shown to have an array of benefits for your physical and emotional health, including decreased blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, and improved outlook and mental clarity. The ideal time to meditate is in the morning soon after waking. Twenty to 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation should be enough to get your day off to a great start, and a few minutes of quiet meditation before bedtime will likewise send you off to a peaceful slumber.
Speaking of sleep... Forget a good night's sleep. Get a great night's sleep by adding a few drops of lavendar oil to your pillow before bed each night. In addition to its soothing scent, lavendar promotes rest and relaxation.
Exercise. Light stretching, walking, yoga or biking three or more times per week will yield incredible benefits for your mind and body.
Plan meals in advance. When given the choice of creating a healthy meal from scratch at the end of a long work day or calling in for pizza, the latter often wins. Next time you're at the bookstore, pick up a recipe book of healthy spa cuisine. Make as many meals in advance as you can (preferably on Sunday), and freeze them for the week. You will be less tempted to stray from your healthy eating plan if you have meals that can be easily heated in under 30 minutes each evening.
Make massage part of your regular wellness routine. Regular massage therapy is a crucial element of any health and wellness plan. In addition to promoting relaxation, massage has been shown to benefit everything from acute and chronic pain to stress and hypertension. It also increases flexibility, strenghtens the immune system, lowers heart rate, and can help improve concentration.
So maybe you're still years away from retiring to a spa community but that doesn't mean you can't live the "spa" life everyday with a few small -- albeit healthy -- lifestyle adjustments. And remember, there's nothing quite like a bona fide visit to a spa for spiritual renewal.
- Press release. Spa Finder invites spa-goers to "live at the spa"...literally. June 13, 2005. www.spafinder.com
- International Spa Association (ISPA) 2004 Spa Industry Study. www.experienceispa.com