In the beginning, I was scared of spas.

The first time I went to a spa I was very intimidated. I thought the people would all be richer, thinner, prettier . . . you name any “er” and I figured that was what was in store. I had reached a point in life that left me feeling empty and useless. My children were nearly grown, my house well kept and very comfortable, and we had a thriving business. I had changed careers about 10 years earlier from teaching to being an executive and it was ringing hollow. My whole life was.

So, I had our receptionist (also a part-time travel agent) book me a vacation.  Of course, she wanted to know what kind of vacation, so I just told her how I’d been feeling. The next thing I knew I was on a plane on my way to Tucson, Arizona, Canyon Ranch—a rather well-known and well-heeled spa. I had been signed up for a special two-week program to help with weight loss, smoking cessation (although I wasn’t a smoker), and revitalization.

My observation was that virtually every first-time visitor was there because of some sort of crisis in their lives. Those who had done “The Spa Thing” before did not seem to be having an existential struggle, but rather took everything in like it was a delicious piece of dessert.

After the first few days I felt right at home. I had made friends with most of the group and enjoyed getting to know them better as everyone seemed to want to share their story. I suppose it was a sort of false intimacy, but these were pleasant encounters and it was nice to focus on someone else’s life-dilemma.

Birth of a New Habit

By the time the vacation was ended and it was time to depart, I couldn’t help but notice the “claw marks” on the airport tarmac—signs left by departing guests that did not want to leave. I fell into that category.

Since that experience about 30 years ago, I’ve vacationed at Canyon Ranch again and many other spas throughout the United States. I am amazed how few people consider planning a vacation at a spa when they feel they really need a break. Instead of heading off to some party destination where you will return weighing more from eating and drinking to excess, wouldn’t it be better to go where you have a lot of fun focusing on your well-being? Learn a new sport. Make new friends. Get up in the morning for a brisk walk as the sun is rising.  Feel alive!

Another nice thing about a destination spa: You get to eat your very well-prepared and delicious dinner at a reasonable time without feeling like you are at the early-bird special.  You have good partners at the meal to socialize with and often there is a full-body massage scheduled before it’s time to sleep. You have spent the day eating well, learning, interacting with others, and exercising at a comfortable pace. In other words, it’s like more traditional vacations—but without any of the stress! How strange is it that vacations can so often become more stressful than the daily routine they’re meant to relieve.

Senior Spa Vacations (and the Senior Living Connection)

Even if you are a little older, don’t be intimidated by who you think you will meet or the advertising showing young, skinny people in skimpy swim suits. A spa vacation is perfect for retirees wanting to see a new area of the country while enjoying all the healthful benefits available.

Really good Senior Living Communities have commonalities with spas. Of course, no one really wants to live at a spa—it’d be like being stuck in one dream forever—but everyone enjoys more time in nature, farm-fresh food, well-prepared meals, activity-based exercise and continuing education among friends. Living in a quality active-adult community is like living at a spa all the time, but with your feet just ever-so-slightly more on the ground. 🙂

For information on the many kinds of services spas offer, try an industry publication like Spa Finder.

Here’s to fresh water with lemons and cucumbers!