Lifestyle

The Spa Effect

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by Chelsea Rathburn

It”s amazing how quickly it happens. One minute you”re grumbling about the traffic or the hard week you”ve had at work; the next, you”re so relaxed you can barely remember your own name, let alone your boss”s name.

We call it the spa effect – that transformative process that lifts you out of the everyday as quickly as you can say Ahhhhh – and it begins before you”ve even climbed onto the massage table or lifted your face to the gentle steam of a facial. Maybe it”s the fluffy robes. Maybe it”s the candles and soft lighting. Or maybe it”s the knowledge that you”ve taken time out just for you.

It”s no wonder more than 32 million Americans visited a spa in the last twelve months, according to the International SPA Association. "It”s no longer a luxury," says Sandra Coffey, owner of Patrick”s of Atlanta, which has locations in Lawrenceville and Buford. "People budget this in, and incorporate it into their everyday lives."

From facials and massages to exotic body treatments like champagne wraps, Gwinnett”s spas have what you need to unwind. The last few years have seen a boom in spas, across the country and right here in Gwinnett, giving spa-goers a wide variety of experiences and atmospheres to choose from. For example, if you like to combine beauty and relaxation, you can look for a spa with a hair salon. Visit a physician-supervised medical spa to receive powerful aesthetic treatments such as Botox or laser hair removal in a relaxing environment. Or you can enjoy a classic resort experience by spending a day, a weekend or longer being pampered at Chateau Elan, the deluxe "destination spa" that”s right in Gwinnett”s backyard. There is even an area spa – Jonpaul”s – which caters exclusively to men!

No matter which experience you choose, you”ll discover a sanctuary from stress and an escape from tension whose effects can last far longer than an afternoon.

First time?

A trip to the spa should relieve stress, not add to it. These tips will help you get the most out of your spa experience.

Come as you are

Not sure what to wear? For most services, you can remain in your own clothes or in a wrap or robe provided by the spa, but for massages you”ll be instructed to undress to your level of comfort. To maintain your privacy, you will be draped with a sheet for the entire treatment except for the area of your body being massaged.

Choices, choices

Overwhelmed by the spa menu? Don#t feel that you have to choose your exact treatment before you arrive. Many spas recommend booking a general block of time (say, for a facial), then letting the aesthetician select the most appropriate treatment for you

Enjoy the silence

If you”re afraid you”ll have to make conversation the whole time, rest assured that you can talk as much or as little as you like. Your service provider will follow your lead. Speaking of silence, to preserve the tranquility of the spa, it”s a good idea to leave your cell phone in the car.

Planning ahead

Your spa will work with your schedule, but it”s best to book ahead, especially if you need a Friday or Saturday appointment, want back-to-back treatments, or plan to visit the spa with a friend or loved one.

Here”s a tip

Tipping is entirely at your discretion. However, gratuities of 15 to 20 percent are appreciated. If you are using a gift certificate, ask if gratuity was included and leave a tip if it was not.