By Darren Buford
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2004.
Instead of hosting a get-together where guests are checking their watches, throw one that will have them begging to stay. One surefire way to spoil them is with a spa party. Imagine inviting 10 to 15 of your closest friends to experience a luxurious day of pampering at a day spa, or even having them over to your home where you've hired your regular massage practitioner and skin care professional to cater to every bodywork whim.
Spa parties are gaining popularity because they provide an exciting variation to traditional celebrations and events such as birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, bachelorette parties, corporate conferences, seminars, and book club meetings.
With very little effort on your part, you and your friends can enjoy a variety of massage and skin care treatments that are important facets of well-being.
It's likely that with the different amenities spa parties offer, you'll have your guests coming early, staying late, and thanking you for your terrific idea every time you see them thereafter.
Let's be frank. Most people love to party. And most love to spa. The combination of the two sounds like hedonism defined, doesn't it? On the other side of the coin, most people despise being accountable for arranging a killer soiree. Because some people would like to be nearly free of the responsibility when it comes to organizing a spa party, one option is to turn to the trained staff of professional day spas like TallGrass Spa and Salon in Evergreen, Colo. "All of our parties are custom-designed to meet the needs of each group," says Melissa Rackliff, Sage Room Coordinator at TallGrass. "The Sage Room is our group booking suite," which comes complete with secluded patio and fireplace, and can easily accommodate up to 25 people, but can also be reserved for smaller groups of four to eight.
At TallGrass, spa parties can be scheduled for as short as 30 minutes in length, allowing for a gift exchange, hand massage, and paraffin dip. The spa also conducts longer parties up to five hours in length. This includes a hand and foot relief ritual, massage, pedicure/manicure, and a catered luncheon. No party is restricted to certain services, and each can be structured around the various requests of the incoming guests. "I build them their perfect group spa day," Rackliff says.
Mini-spa treatments (around $30 per person) are offered to larger groups and include an Indigenous Purification Ritual, Aromatherapy Sensory Ritual, and Blue Oil Balancing Ritual, which is based on a composition of blue chamomile and peppermint. It is a tension-relieving and body-balancing blend, giving the guest a tingly feeling. The service also includes a neck and scalp pressure-point treatment, and arm massage for those who are busy typing on their computers all day, and a foot and calf massage. This sequence is then followed with a full-body spritzing of the Blue Oil.
For smaller groups, TallGrass offers Luxury Escapes, ranging in prices from $140 to $170 per person, which include more intensive sessions, usually involving massages, scrubs, and body polishes.
Rackliff says her responsibility as hostess includes taking away all the stress associated with structuring and catering a party. She guides parties through the day's procession, explaining the services each guest will experience, and fields any questions they may also have, such as "Do I need to remove my clothing under the robe?"
Whether it's the seasoned spa-goer or the bodywork beginner, Rackliff says spa party attendees will get something from their day. The spa specifically keeps in mind the varying amounts of spa experience each guest has within the group. She wants to make the curious wallflower just as comfortable as the professional spa guest. The former will have a great introduction to the profession and the latter will be exposed to both familiar and more exotic services.
While some people have the let's-go-to-the-spa mentality, others wish to control the space of their spa party by having it at home. This approach requires either hiring your massage therapist and/or skin care professional by the hour, or outsourcing a one-stop mobile spa consultant or group.
Located in Boston, Ma., mobileSpa is glad to bring their blend of home comfort to the East Coast spaing community. Where exactly will mobileSpa perform their magic? Well, according to partner Smita Majumder, anywhere. "We get calls from people even in their hotel room."
Within the past seven months, spa parties have also become the rage at mobileSpa. "It took some time for the word to get out," Majumder says. "But as soon as people understood the concept, they became a huge hit."
MobileSpa brings "the works" with them to conduct a thoroughly relaxing party--from massage tables, to towels, to manicure/pedicure kits, to facial tables--everything you would find at a regular spa. According to Majumder, "We take little things like candles, oil, and music to make the whole experience special for the clients," including a bottle of champagne and chocolates for their most heavenly party, simply called Goddess Night Out.
This package includes a skin analysis of the person, and a facial that reflects their disposition, a back facial, massage, and pedicure and manicure, and typically runs about $200 per person. But like TallGrass, mobileSpa also customizes treatments specific to each party and offers rates that are reflective of the services requested.
To keep things moving, mobileSpa makes a number of massage therapists and skin care professionals available to each party. "We don't want people waiting," Majumder says.
This efficient approach allows Majumder and company to cater up to 15 people during one party, which can run as long as four hours, depending on the services rendered.
On Your Own
For those Martha Stewarts who wish to tackle organizing a spa party on their own, Spaindex.com offers the following suggestions:
--Incorporate music into your get-together. The power of music can easily transform your party into a soothing atmosphere rather than chaotic madness.
--Cheat a little. If you're on a budget, a variety of spa kits are available that include everything from oils and salts, to candles, pumice stones, and body sanders. Kits also vary accordingly with the age of the party-goer. There are even kits available for children and teens. (Imagine a calmer birthday party next year for your young princess.)
--Offer towels and robes to your guests. Adding that extra touch can make your home feel more "spa-like."
--Provide plenty of water. Not only does it give them refreshment, but water is also crucial for helping to flush toxins from the body after a massage. Include orange or lemon slices for that spa feeling.
--Make and keep to a schedule of activities. This will help keep the party flowing, and keep it from stagnating, which could result in an early exit.
Regardless of the method you pursue for your spa party (day spa, mobile spa, a la yourself), be sure to lay back and enjoy not only your company but the services. The spa party is not only for your friends and family, but for you, too.
To find a massage therapist or skin care professional willing to participate in, or host, a spa party, ask your regular practitioner, contact your local day spa, or visit Massagetherapy.com for the bodyworkers and estheticians in your area.