Spa for Less – Find Spa Deals

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Hot stone massage. Chocolate body scrub. Seaweed thalassotherapy wrap. All sound lusciously decadent and expensive.

Even the $10.9 billion spa industry admits prices are inching up, with some massages reaching $250 at the chicest of resorts. But you don’t have to pay full price. Just like the airlines and hotels, spas operate using yield management, meaning that when things are slow and the economy nosedives, prices drop. You can benefit if you learn when and what to book. Here are the tips.

Whether your savings. If your destination has a particularly hot summer (Arizona) or cold winter (Maine), off-season specials may be only a thermometer away. Even five-star resorts have an off-season and a busy season. In the off-season, hotels use room discounts to attract guests, then toss in spa discounts to sweeten the deal.

Timing counts. Every spa has off-peak hours of operation: when it first opens, around noon and late in the day. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be slow days. Check if services cost less at some days or times.

Ask and ye shall receive. If you’re a walk-in client, ask about daily specials. Say you’ll come early or are willing to use the newest employee. Many spas offer discounted services to fill unbooked time. Occasionally, day spas slash prices for any first-visit treatment, such as a manicure or facial, in the hope you’ll become a repeat customer.

Or, e-mail spas ahead of time and ask about discounts for business travelers. Julie Gallaher of ThingsYouShould Do.com suggests, “Write something like, ‘I’m going to be in your town next month, but I’m on a budget, so I’m looking for something affordable.’ ”

Also, check for special-occasion discounts. For example, Glen Ivy Hot Springs (www.glenivy.com) in southern California offers free spa admission on guests’ birthdays.