Sometimes I almost regret introducing my 14-year-old daughter to the delights of massage therapy, since she’s now as avid as I am to enjoy the relief and recalibration that come with a good professional treatment, which rarely comes cheap. Yet as a dancer, runner and dedicated student, she benefits as much as I do from the health advantages of bodywork, or even an occasional pedicure treat for her tired feet.
Lately, I’ve found myself thinking that a mother-daughter spa getaway might be refreshing for both us, and a fun way to connect outside our usual daily routine of overly packed schedules.
Traditionally, spa vacations have been romantic retreats for couples or escapes for harried women who juggle too much. Today, however, as kids’ lives get ever busier and stress becomes an issue that even preteens are dealing with, a family spa experience in a restful setting can accomplish two purposes: vacation time together while nurturing wellness for all ages.
Spa Services for Families: A Growing Trend
One of SpaFinder’s Top Ten Spa Trends for 2012 is the rise of spa services for the entire family. Options range from health-oriented elements like nutritional counseling to festive indulgences for youngsters such as ice-cream-themed nail treatments with cherry-vanilla nail polish and chocolate milkshake pedicures.
Teens in particular comprise a rapidly growing segment of spa-goers, drawn to the allure of beauty treatments and stress relief. According to the International Spa Association, more than 4 million teens have been to a spa.
Resorts and hotels have picked up on this growing demand, catering to families who want to combine a vacation with spa services that everyone can enjoy. More than half the hotel resort spas with memberships in ISA now have teen programs, and new options geared toward even younger children are opening rapidly.
Some spas have spaces dedicated exclusively to kids and teens: the Hyatt Regency Lost Pine Resort in Austin, Texas, offers the seasonal Wild Hare Youth Spa for ages 16 and under alongside its summertime Camp Hyatt program. The Sea Spa at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego features a teen-focused treatment room outfitted in stylish Pottery Barn PBTeen furnishings. Special teen-themed services include acne facials, sports massages, skincare lessons and organic spray-tanning as an alternative to harmful sunbathing.
Disney’s new Aulani Resort on Oahu has taken the teen spa concept to a lavish level: Painted Sky, designed for guests 13 to 17, has a private entrance and features amenities such as a yogurt and elixir bar, computer stations, a D.I.Y. mixology bar for perfumes, body polishes and face masks, and teen-specific services that include massages, facials, manicures and pedicures expressly geared to young men and women. When accompanied by an adult, kids 14 and up can also enjoy the resort’s Laniwai Spa for adults, right next door, where an outdoor hydrotherapy garden is a highlight.
The Aulani family spa experience doesn’t exclude the smallest family members, either: new parents can soothe themselves and their baby with Makana, which means “the gift.” One parent enjoys a treatment while the other learns the art of baby massage from a certified practitioner. And the entire family can enjoy a healing Hawaiian lomi lomi massage together in a separate ‘Ohana family suite.
Five More Fabulous Family Spa Escapes
While family spa vacation options are as varied as their geographic settings, here is a sampler to give you more ideas of what’s out there for your next family getaway.
Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Your kids will feel like they’ve entered a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when they visit the historic Hotel Hershey’s Chocolate Spa. While mom and dad are relishing a Coconut Sugar Scrub followed by a Chocolate Fondue Wrap, your chocoholic teen (ages 13-17) can soak in a Whipped Cocoa Bath and savor a Sweet Hands and Feet treatment: a manicure or pedicure with chocolate sugar exfoliation, chocolate mask for the feet, paraffin dip and chocolate moisturizing massage. Chocolate facials for teens focus on cleansing and skincare education. And when your pampering is finished, fun awaits next door on the rides and attractions of Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World visitor center.
Grand Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Voted one of the Top 10 Spas in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea is a global trendsetter in relaxing and rejuvenating therapies, not least for the younger set. Kids can indulge in its Hawaiian-influenced scrubs, wraps and massages, and special “Ohana” treatments are offered for the entire family in the same spa suite: The Malama Ka ‘Ohana Family Spa Packages offers adults the benefits of a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi treatment while kids 6-12 enjoy a chocolate-coconut massage. The spa also offers Keiki Packages for kids 6 to 12 featuring honey-mango manicures and pedicures, tropical facials and henna tattoos, while teens can enjoy 25-minute versions of celebrated treatments like the Maui sugar cane exfoliation, volcanic ash facial, mud body wrap or cocoa butter massage. The Grand Wailea encourages youth fitness, too: kids 10 and older can take part in the spa’s complimentary fitness classes that include stretching, boxing, yoga and group cycling workouts.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, San Antonio, Texas
The wellness centerpiece of this resort on the outskirts of San Antonio in Texas bluebonnet country is Windflower: The Hill Country Spa, set amidst 300 acres of wildflowers and meadows. The Bourbon Bubbler is perfect for dads: brown sugar and real Kentucky whisky are added to gingersnap-pecan scented body scrub, followed by a warm oil massage. While Mom is indulging in a skin-firming Warm Cactus Wrap or Anti-Oxidant Facial (an aromatic blend of rose, pomegranate, aloe vera and green clay), the kids can check in at The SPAhhhT, the first dedicated hotel youth spa. The popular Dreamy Icy Creamy pedicure combines a Bath Shower Sherbet foot scrub, choice of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry Foot Fizz treatment (picture a bath bomb that looks and smells like a big scoop of ice cream), plus foot moisturizer, massage and choice of toenail polish. After a massage (swimsuits are worn), enjoy a Girlie Girl Facial or visit the salon for a Glamour Girl haircut, Puttin’ on the Glitz Up-Do, hair braiding or sparkle nail art.
Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina
Though Pinehurst is best known for attracting golfers to its abundance of celebrated courses, its luxury Spa at Pinehurst is an equally appealing reason to spend a few days at this grand, 1893 resort hotel nestled among the pines and sand hills of southcentral North Carolina. Dads will enjoy a Pine Salt Scrub or European Men’s Facial while moms indulge in a Carolina Peach Nourisher: a full-body exfoliation with peach and pecan scrub followed by an application of peach-scented shea and mango butter that leaves the skin soothed and hydrated. The KidSpa welcomes children 6 to 17, accompanied by parents, for a classic massage or facial, including skincare education. Special offerings for youngsters and teens are also on the menu: Fancy Fingers and Twinkle Toes mani-pedi treatments feature a peaches and berries soak followed with peach butter moisturizer and polish; teens can take a primer in make-up application or — also appealing to boys — a one-on-one Teen Tune-Up fitness session with a certified personal trainer that includes an introduction to weights and cardiovascular workout techniques. Pinehurst also offers mother-daughter spa packages.
Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona
The all-suite Arizona Grand Resort & Spa has won multiple awards for being a top family-friendly vacation place. While it might be hard to pull the kids away from the private, on-site Oasis Water Park, the Kids Spa has enough tempting treatments to do the trick. Teens benefit from a host of specially designed services including a full-body Citrus Lavender Salt Scrub; a Back Scrub that combines skin analysis, exfoliation, cleansing, extractions and mask application; a facial accompanied by a full skincare lesson; and deep-tissue massage geared especially to young athletes. The Pretty Princess Package will make younger girls (ages 6-11) feel like royalty, with a manicure and pedicure featuring glitter polish and gemstones, a glamorous hairstyle and a jeweled tiara to take home. Mom and Dad certainly aren’t left out — from the Native American-inspired Sedona Mud Purification Treatment to the Desert Sage Body Mask or Oasis Aloe Body Wrap, a host of desert-themed indulgences will have worn-out parents thoroughly rejuvenated in no time. Mothers and daughters can share the fun together with a half-day Teen Tag-Along Package.
Family Spa Indulgences on the Cheap
If a resort spa getaway isn’t in your family vacation budget, consider a one-day escape close to home. Many day spas are welcoming teens and children, offering parent-child services like a massage for two, and pedicure parties for birthdays and special occasions.
Or, for the ultimate way to save money and still maximize fun and well-being, create your own spa-at-home experience using items you have on hand or can easily obtain: revitalize your face with an oatmeal mask; try a cooling cucumber eye treatment; indulge in a sugar or coffee body scrub; treat your tootsies with nontoxic nail polish; give mutual massages with homemade oils like jojoba, olive or sweet almond infused with natural aromatic essences. Take a break midway through your self-designed spa “package” with a creative, healthy lunch and pure water flavored with mint or lemon slices. Fluffy organic cotton robe optional.
Here’s to healthy fun for the whole family,