What comes to mind when you think of spas?
Let's have a guess: it's relaxation. It's cucumbers on your eyes while a face mask slowly dries on the surrounding skin. It's tinkling music and candles that smell like lavender. You're thinking of rejuvenation, feeling and looking better...
... and you're completely forgetting the reality of spas.
Some spas may be exactly as advertised; the great ones will be even better. But let's not pretend that a spa is always going to work out - or that you're going to feel comfortable there. This idea is a myth perpetuated by advertising, not necessarily a truth based on experience.
It's strange that we've let this happen; let our impressions be skewed in such a way. Spas are meant to be the epitome of delight, but are they? Is it the perfect place to relax, soothe your troubles away and come out glowing? Or is the reality a little less attractive?
EXPECTATION: A kind, friendly therapist who knows almost instinctively exactly what you want. They are there to make you feel good, and it's their sole focus for the day.
REALITY: Someone who forces a smile, shakes your hand so briefly you wonder if they are a germaphobe and - like most employees - just wants to get through the day.
EXPECTATION: A massage that leaves you glowing all over, all knots smoothed out of your muscles and new flexibility discovered.
REALITY: A massage that seems to cause more problems than it solves. You ache; if it's been particularly deep-tissue, then you might just bruise. Your skin is slick with oil that you can't seem to totally wash off, as indicated to you by your partner that evening when they try to kiss you hello and slide right off your skin. As is also pointed out, you could have got the same treatment more conveniently at home.
EXPECTATION: Beautiful candles flickering softly, making everything glow with a warm light.
REALITY: The same manufactured candle scents that you can find at any store. Of course, they're not sufficient to actually provide enough light. So you're still dealing with harsh electric lighting, none of which is flattering!
EXPECTATION: Having the chance to try new treatments, especially those you could never do for yourself at home. You can sample seaweed wraps, be bathed in mud and a million other tricks you assume are going to make you look and feel better.
REALITY: There's a reason many of these "treatments" are not done at home - they're no fun. If the temperature in the room is wrong, then a mud wrap quickly descends from luxury to the stark reality: you're bathed in muck in a cold room. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just go for a walk in the countryside during winter?
EXPECTATION: You emerge from the spa feeling like a new, better version of yourself. You stride out with your head held high and a new, calmer sense of self.
REALITY: You leave with an empty wallet, mud still clinging to various unmentionable body parts and your face slick with oil. Then you have to drive home, get into traffic and soon your new Zen philosophy bites the dust in one fell swoop!