A resort spa (also known as a spa resort provides a relaxing, pampering experience for people staying at the resort or people who live locally. At a resort spa you stay overnight, enjoy spa treatments, and eat whatever you want to -- steak, wine, you name it.
This is different from a health spa or destination spa, which is more about healthy living and personal transformation. (Though just to make it more confusing, many destination spas are now calling themselves "spa resorts" because it's more highly searched term on the internet.)
The classic resort spa offers golf, tennis, swimming, kids clubs, gyms, and the spa is just one more amenity. They might also offer exercise classes, either for an extra fee or free. Older resort spas, built in the nineties, tend to be smaller and not so "over the top". Newer resort spas tend to be bigger and more lavish.
How Resort Spas Differ From Health Spas
At resort spas, you usually pay for your spa treatments a la carte instead of having them as part of the total package. The resort spa may or may not offer classes like yoga, and the selection is usually much more limited than at a destination spa.
There are a few exceptions. Golden Door Spa at The Boulders and The Spa at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale are two excellent resort spas that offer a fairly deep schedule of classes, free for anyone getting a treatment at the spa.
Resort spa restaurants generally offer spa cuisine, but their real forte is the rich food that most people like to order when they're out on the town or having a special night out. Spas are the new must-have amenity at resorts and hotels, so almost everyone says they have a spa.
It's important to do your research before you go. You don't want to find out what the hotel is calling a "spa" is a hot tub, or one treatment room off the gym. (This happened to me in the days before I knew better, though it's less common these days.)
What You Need To Know About Resort Spas
* Large resort spas will have a wide range of activities, including golf, swimming, tennis, and sometimes water sports, horseback riding and skiing. Some also have kids' camps.
A hotel spa (also known as a spa hotel)is generally in an urban setting and lacks all the outdoor amenities. It can range from the splashy, over-the-top spas in Las Vegas to elegant, sophisticated spas like The Mandarin Oriental in New York City.
* Resort spas do not include meals. Destination or health spas include meals. Keep that in mind when you compare prices.
* You may have to pay anywhere from $15 to $25 for yoga or other exercise classes at resort spas. Classes at health spas are included.
* Many resorts have kids' camps. Health spas don't allow children.
Resort Spas Are A Good Choice If:
* One person wants to golf, the other to spa.
* You want to eat -- and drink -- whatever you want.
* You have children
* You're a business traveler who needs a massage.
Health Spas Are Good Choice If You:
* want to jumpstart a diet or healthy lifestyle
* want to be with like-minded people
* are traveling alone
* need to address specific health issues
* want to be nurtured after a loss