Wellness: The Worst Spa Day Ever?

July 2012

Sometimes, a girl just needs a spa day. Whether it’s a stressful week at work, an onslaught of personal drama, or simply coping with a lot going on, everybody needs to recharge with some “me-time” now and then. One of my favorite me-time plans involves a lavender-scented robe, heated neck towel, some herbally infused tea, and a nice long Swedish massage to undo the knots. When done well, there’s nothing more soothing. That is the whole point of spa-going. To relax, unwind, and check your worries at the door. It is the spa’s job to make your stress melt away.

Not so during a recent spa trip for me. I’d had a hectic week and my back and shoulders were tense to the point of aching. I booked a treatment at a day spa that shall remain nameless. A couple hours before my scheduled time, the spa left me a message and requested that I bump my appointment to 30 minutes later because they’d had a scheduling mishap. No big deal—things happen. I’ve been there.

When I arrived, I stood at the front desk for about five minutes while the woman behind the desk was on the phone. She was clearly having a disagreement with some sort of repair person, and didn’t feel the need to greet me or at least tell me to hang on while she finished her call. Eventually, disgruntled, she hung up and I was directed to the relaxation lounge to wait for my therapist. Immediately, she got back on the phone.

The lounge, adjacent to the reception area, is meant to be a place to slowly start draining your worries; to mellow out, enjoy some tea, and forget your stress. Instead, all I could hear was front-desk lady’s continuing high-pitched argument, which, I deduced, was personal and not spa-related. What the front-desk lady didn’t seem to get was that I was sitting about 10 feet away. I could see her. I could hear her. As I tried to clear my head and unwind, her remarks got harsher and harsher, and her worries became mine. This was wholly un-relaxing, and I entered my treatment feeling more irritated and tense than ever.

I’d urge all spa concierges/greeters/receptionists to please, please, please be aware of your clients. We come to your spas to get away from the day-to-day stress. Slighting us while you yell at someone over the phone is not only unprofessional, but it also mars the whole spa experience. Needless to say, I will not be returning to said unnamed spa any time soon.

That being said, there are plenty of pampering palaces around town that are doing it right. Here, a few spas our 5280 staffers love:

The Woodhouse Day Spa941 E. 17th Ave., 303-813-8488

“I really enjoyed the organic sugar scrub pedicure. They totally work your feet—really get after those calluses. In a really nice environment.”

The Spa at St Julien900 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-406-9696

There was some big reception going on in the hotel lobby with lots of bustle and noise; I walked through to get to the spa, and it was like entering another dimension. All the commotion melted away, even though I was just down the hall. They really know how to de-stress you when you just need a break.”

The Spa at the Brown Palace321 17th St., 303-312-8940 

“I love the decor. The dark reds, candlelight, and deeply lit ambience make it cozy and soothing.”

Elixir Mind Body Massage1518a Wazee St., 303-571-4455

“It’s low-key, without the normal pretension you get at a spa. They do what they do well, and they don’t go crazy. I appreciate the no-nonsense approach.

Spa Universaire475 W. 12th Ave., Unit D, 303-629-9070 

“The culturally-inspired themed rooms are super cool. It really is like you’re in a different world. Loved the elephant room, and that they give you a tour of all the rooms beforehand. I was pleasantly surprised by the complimentary foot bath with my massage.”

Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver1111 14th St., 303-389-3020

Excerpted from our "Top of the Town 2012" issue: “If we were going to while away a lunch hour being pampered, we might as well do it right. So we went upscale. At the Four Seasons, we had the area to ourselves, which meant no vying for polish or magazines. We simply tuned out. On a weekday. Between meetings. Pure bliss, just like a proper mani-pedi should be.” Click here for more.

The Spa at the Inverness200 Inverness Drive West, Englewood, 303-397-7808

Excerpted from our "Top of the Town 2012" issue: “We stopped in to the Inverness for a quick pick-me-up mini-facial one afternoon and left feeling relaxed and clarified, with skin that glowed for days…Walking out, we felt like the dewy “after” shot in a skincare commercial.” Click here for more.

Got a favorite spa? Had a bad experience? Tell us about it. 

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