This review will cover 3 of the luxury spas that we have had the chance to visit. Since I have been trained as a luxury spa destination specialist, I rate each spa on the overall experience which includes so much more than just the spa treatment itself. A spa experience should truly begin the moment you enter the spa and are greeted by the spa front desk staff. The entire facility should have an environment of peace and tranquility. That to me is what separates a true spa from the store front hair salons that just happen to have a massage therapist on hand. The latter cannot claim to be a spa nor should it.
I am going to give reviews for the spas that are considered to be resort spas which are those either situated within a hotel or somewhere on the grounds of a hotel resort. I hope you find these reviews helpful and feel free to send any questions you have about any spa or the overall spa experience.
1. The Spa at Torrey Pines
This spa is at the top of my list for a variety of reasons. The spa truly engages you as soon as you enter the door. It is situated within the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.
The entire staff are an extension of the therapists themselves. As soon as you check-in, a locker room attendant escorts you to the appropriate areas to change into your robes while they also point out the different areas to relax while waiting for your actual treatment. The men's and women's areas are decorated similarly with rich whites and dark browns and soft leather chairs to sink into in the sitting rooms. I can speak in more detail of the men's side, but my wife assures me that the women's equals the men's. As a male, you have the option of changing and waiting in the men's only lounge which comes with those leather chairs I mentioned along with a large plasma television for watching sports, news or whatever you desire as you sip tea, juice or water and partake of a variety of fresh fruit. If you are with your spouse, you can also join her in the community lounge area. All of these areas have the appropriate spa music playing softly in the background.
After a short, relaxing wait, your therapist will retrieve you from the lounging areas and show you to the most tranquil massage rooms that I have experienced. The rooms are mostly interior rooms that are only given light by the soft overhead recessed lighting and the flicker of candles. My therapist also did not disappoint and gave a wonderful deep tissue massage.
I give this spa my highest rating because once again it delivered the whole spa package and took me away to a place of peace and I felt relaxed and rejuvenated at the end.
2. The Spa at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa
Once again, this is near the top because of the overall spa environment. While it falls short of the ambiance created at my #1 spa, it still provides an overall great spa experience. The common lounge area was nice and relaxing, but somewhat small feeling when 2 or more are waiting at one time. The mood created by the staff and the environment was exceptional and what you come to expect from a Ritz Carlton.
The spa is located down a short walk-way from the main hotel which is located in Pasadena California.
3. The Spa at the Hilton Sandestin
I am going to give a review of this spa to show how a spa can have great amenities and not create that overall spa experience as the 2 spas above deliver. This spa located on the bottom floor of the hotel had more in the way of spa facilities than most that I have visited here in the U.S. The men's and women's sides have a dry sauna, 2 different steam rooms and a large whirlpool to relax in prior to your treatment. The private lounge areas are comfortable, but lacking the tranquility you expect at a spa. The T.V. was on in the men's lounge and the volume exceeded that of the soft music playing overhead which detracted from a setting of peace and quiet.
The front desk is also located right outside the exercise area which can be noisy. The staff was great and attentive and they get an A+ from me including my therapist. My only wish is that they would monitor the "quiet areas" better to deliver that true spa experience.
The spa and hotel are located in beautiful Destin, Florida.