With Mother’s Day* coming up you may be thinking of using your special day to get away and relax at the spa. But, with these economic times we want to get the most (and best) for our money, especially if it’s pure pampering. So, what treatment gives you the best value and, how do you make sure that the spa is really clean? We turned to Breezy Mama friend and spa owner Stephanie Phelan to give us the rub down on the best way to relax—because the last thing we want on Mother’s Day is the gift of infection.
What should people look for to make sure a spa has been inspected by the health department?
A Massage Establishment license is the most important. Also, all therapists and estheticians should display licenses in their massage rooms.
What is required for a spa to pass a health and safety inspection?
We are required to go through a lengthy process with the Santa Barbara (where Stephanie’s spa, Float, is located) police department to obtain a Massage Establishment License. This involves a fee, application, fingerprinting, background check and a walk-through from an officer. The officer makes sure we have sanitary stations, lockers, sinks, etc. We are also inspected by the Board of Cosmetology–they look out for the cleanliness of the Facial rooms.
How often are spas evaluated?
Whenever the inspectors feel like it! They are known to do surprise inspections. All of our therapists are also licensed through the city of Santa Barbara so they must keep their permits up to date.
Have you ever heard of nightmare stories at a spa?
When I was working at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, California, we had a couple use a credit card to make their reservation. They spent the entire day receiving services, then they snuck out the back door and cancelled their credit card! That was a nightmare for me, the manager. As far as a nightmare for the client, my friends were at a spa in Baja, Mexico—they had aromatherapy massages and they swore that the massage therapists just rubbed Vick’s Vapor Rub all over them!
Most people sit in a sauna and steam room nude—should visitors make sure to lay down a towel before sitting down?
I think laying down a towel is a nice, sanitary way to use a steam room.
(If you’re not comfortable walking around nude, don’t worry, you don’t have to. But, if you can’t look at other naked bodies you may want to rethink your spa experience or at the very least, make sure the one you are booking with offers a reading room or other place to lounge that requires robes.–Breezy Mama)
Any other precautions when visiting a spa?
Look around—does it look clean? Are they sanitizing their supplies? Be wary of spas with flashing neon lights on the outside!
When taking advantage of the hot tub, sauna and steam room, how much water should people drink to stay hydrated?
Just drink continuously while using those facilities and especially after a massage. You want to wash out the toxins that are released during a massage for maximum benefits.
What’s the best package value?
Most packages are a good value because each treatment is discounted when purchased as a package. Float’s best package is the Champagne package because you can have a massage and facial every month for an entire year at a big discount! Plus you receive a robe, sandals and, of course, champagne!
Stephanie Phelan has been in the luxury business for quite awhile. She co-owned Kelea Surf Spa, a women’s-only surf retreat with locations in Hawaii and Costa Rica for five years. Stephanie then went on to become the Spa Director at the Balboa Bay Club and Resort in Newport Beach, California where she worked for almost four years. From here, she gained the experience to open her own day spa. After convincing her sister Natalie to join her in Santa Barbara from New York, the two recently opened Float Luxury Spa.
Stephanie (left) and her sister Natalie–years before they dreamed about owning a spa together.
**Above photos are of Float Luxury Spa
Breezy Mama Exclusive: For those of you in the Santa Barbara area, book your services at Float Luxury Spa and mention Breezy Mama for a 10% discount!
Breezy Mama Tips: To maximize the most out of your money, decide first what it is you are looking to do. For example, are you in pain and need your muscles worked out, but only have an hour? Then your best bet is to find a therapist that can come to your home for about half the cost of visiting a spa. However, for a day of relaxation, the extra cost is worth it so you can hang out and use the different spa facilities.
If going to the spa is your choice, look for cheaper packages such as mini-facials that are cost-friendly, but also give you access to the facilities. For a full day experience, make sure the one you book has the amenities you’re looking for. For example, some offer pools to spend the day lounging by while others just have a steam room, sauna and indoor whirlpool. A spa’s pricing should reflect what comes with it. For example, if you book with the La Costa Resort in San Diego, you will pay a pretty penny for a 50 minute massage, but you also get a kid-free pool to lounge by, a sauna, indoor jacuzzi and steam room. The extra cost can be worth it if you have the time to spend.
*Haven’t told your hubby what you’d like for Mother’s Day? Make sure you forward him our Mother’s Day wish list.