There are several different types of spas, so the first thing to get clear on is what kind of spa you're interested in going to. Destination spas are a select group of health spas that are all-inclusive, with accommodations, meals, classes, and lectures all part of the package and (sometimes) a credit towards spa treatments. Most destination spas require a three-night minimum, and some require a week-long stay so you can get the full benefit.
Prices for destination spas start around $1,200 per week, (per person, double occupancy) at the no-frills Tennessee Fitness Spa in Waynesboro, Tennessee. The Oaks at Ojai in California, is another affordable option, with rates of $1,800 per week, (per person, double), or a daily rate of $265 (per person, double).
Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, is a moderately priced destination spa with rates around $300 a day for an entry level room. One of the best values in destination spas is Rancho La Puerta, the original destination spa just over the border about an hour from San Diego. It's $3,550 for seven-nights, offering an experience on par with much more expensive destination spa in the U.S.
Mii Amo, a destination spa at Enchantment Resort, has probably the most spectacular setting in the country—the red rocks of Sedona. This is a relatively small spa, so it's best if you feel like having a quiet stay. A seven-night package is $5,500.
Top-of-the-line destination spas in the U.S. like Canyon Ranch, Cal-A Vie, Golden Door are pricey at $9,000 a week, but that includes a higher luxury factor, more personal attention, lots of spa treatments and all service fees.
Once you get to the spa, you may want more services and treatments than come in your package, so check to see what's included. Also ask about local taxes and resort fees to make sure you don't have sticker shock at checkout.
You can save by traveling off-season, planning your stay during the week rather than on weekends, and looking for special promotions. Some places like Canyon Ranch run a lot of these specials, giving you a discount when you come for the first time or bring a friend, while others rarely move off the rack rate. At Canyon Ranch, you can also make the most of your time by arriving early in the morning on your first day and leaving late your last day.
Resort Spas Can Be an Affordable Option
Resort spas and hotel spas can be an affordable way to have a spa vacation if you are willing to forgo the immersion wellness experience of the destination spa. Or maybe you just want a beautiful room and some nice spa treatments. If that's the case, the resort or hotel spa is for you. The nightly rate will be lower, but you will be paying for all your meals, spa treatments, and possibly fitness classes. Be sure to add all that up before you book.
One way to get a high luxury quotient for a low price is—no surprise—a trip to Las Vegas or another casino spa. Everyone knows the rooms are relatively inexpensive for the quality they offer, and the spas are often splendid. Only you know if that's your speed... or if the gaming table will make the trip go way over budget.
Another strategy is to look for smaller independent properties, like The Emerson Resort & Spa in Mt. Tremper, New York.
Taking Care of Yourself at the Day Spa
Spa costs vary depending on where you live, what kind of spa you're going to, and the spa's luxury factor. But day spas are great places to get pampered without breaking the bank. A smaller day spa outside a major city will have lower prices: a fifty-minute or one-hour Swedish massage starts around $80 and can run to $125.
Spas in major cities, luxury day spas, hotel spas, and resort spas you can visit for the day have higher prices, with treatments that generally start around $125 and run higher, perhaps as much as $200.
You can save money by going to a chain like Massage Envy or finding a private massage therapist or esthetician, but don't expect amenities like spa robes, hot tea, and saunas. Destination and health spas vary a great deal in the luxury of their rooms and the amenities they offer. Expect a wide price range in what a spa trip costs.