Pampering yourself at home with spa treatments is easy, rejuvenating and quite cost-effective. You have the luxury to control the ingredients that go onto your skin and into your body, too. You have control over the music you listen to as well as the environment’s “feel” as a whole. Why not incorporate those same basic principles and take those ideas with you when you travel? No, I’m not talking about lugging spa equipment, carrying mani-pedi tools, or packing a boat-load of tubes, jars, and containers on vacation. I’m saying that you can take those simple “at home spa treatments” and tailor them for your hotel room while on your vacation.
These treatments I’m about to illustrate came about when I needed to get creative and use what was available to me in a hotel. Jet lag, bad weather, irritability, and not feeling your best can all conspire to make a vacation turn sour, really quickly. In most cases, I had to improvise, but “discovery” was part of the fun. Of course, some of these ideas are just modifications of what I do at home, but a couple of ideas came from professional spa technicians in some of the very hotels I stayed in. After an enjoyable spa treatment or two, I always ask them, “How can I do this for myself at home?” You’d be surprised just how easy it is! Here are eight personal spa treatments you can create when you need to refresh, distress, or unwind while away on vacation.
1. Create a Refreshing Station
I do not drink as much water as I should when I’m at home, but when I travel I drink lots of it. I know it’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the tropics where I tend to vacation. The first thing I do is pick up the phone and order room service. I ask for sliced cucumber, sliced limes, and mint leaves (they may not always have mint). Then I ask for a large glass pitcher or carafe of filtered water. And while I have them on the phone, I usually ask them to send up a fresh fruit basket too. As soon as the fruit and water arrive, I put the sliced cucumber, limes, and mint leaves in the carafe with the water to create a cool, nutrient-rich, vitamin water. I’ve done this so many times that when we now return to some resorts, we’ll find a complimentary “refreshing station” and fresh fruit basket already set up in our room. That’s always a nice touch!
2. Steep That Tea
I remember once, when we finally arrived at our hotel room after a long flight, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing this tired-looking man staring at me from the other side. Cabin pressure, lack of sleep, and caffeine really do a number on the skin, especially the face. I used to bring along spray mists but my large ones are now against air-travel regulations. So, I decided to give myself a mini-steam facial to invigorate my skin, open up my pores, and improve my circulation. You can do it, too. Fill your clean hotel sink with hot water. Throw in a couple of those complimentary herbal tea bags (maybe they’ll even have chamomile) and grab a nice fluffy towel. Drape it over your head and shoulders to create a tent over the sink. Steam your face for about three minutes. Want more time? Just add more hot water. Don’t forget to breathe in deeply and relax. Afterward, gently pat your face dry with the towel. This will put the glow back in your face for sure!
3. Make a Natural Facial Mask
After you’ve spent time giving yourself a steam facial, you can apply a natural facial mask. It’s very easy: mix some milk and honey together and that’s all you really need. The mixture should be creamy yet sticky. These two ingredients work well for all skin types. However, I encourage you to experiment with other natural ingredients such as hand-mashed avocados and moistened oatmeal. Simply apply the mixture as you would with any store-bought facial mask. Lie down on your bed, throw some of those cucumber slices over your eyes, and just relax for about 15 minutes. When you’re finished, rinse with slightly cool water. Dab your face dry and apply your moisturizer. A natural mask has many beneficial properties. It hydrates your face and draws out impurities from congested skin. It also helps to calm and smooth tired skin and reduce puffiness. When someone comments on your beautiful skin, just say, “It’s natural, baby!”
4. Soft-Scrub Your Body
The latest treatment in a lot of spas is the coffee scrub—and who doesn’t love the aroma of fresh coffee? Your sense of smell plays an important role in helping you relax. It’s easy to make your own coffee scrub in a hotel room. Take the fresh grounds from that coffee maker and make a soft scrub. In a cup, lightly moisten the grounds with warm water and add sugar to help with exfoliation. In the shower, apply handfuls of the coffee scrub to your wet skin. Pay particular attention to rough spots such as your elbows and heels. After scrubbing, cleanse and rinse your body as usual. Dry off and follow up with a lotion to seal in moisture. In some fancy spas in NYC, they add milk to this very recipe and charge about $45 for a “latte scrub.”
5. Soak Those Tired Tootsies
It happens every time: we wear our sandals and flip-flops to the pool, to the beach, out on the town, back to the hotel, then to dinner, and sometimes we go dancing in our sandals too. The next day, we’re complaining about how sore we are! To help soothe those feet, fill your bathtub with the hottest water you can handle. Throw in a few squirts of the hotel’s complimentary bubble bath and soak soak soak; about 15 to 20 minutes should do. Dry your feet completely and then apply some body lotion. I do this with my partner, and it has become a soothing ritual that we enjoy together.
6. Sweet Dreams
We may be resting on the most luxurious, comfortable bed that feels like a cloud, but somehow we still just can’t fall asleep. Why? Because we’re so used to our own bed that anything else, luxurious or not, seems foreign to us. Because of this, we started packing and bringing along our herbal pillow satchels and that really did the trick for us. The hotel bed took on the scent of our very own bedroom and soon it was lights out. Here’s what you do: in a muslin drawstring bag, add the herbs you like. Sleep-inducing herbs include chamomile, hops, lavender, rose petals, lemon verbena, and mint. Pack the little satchel up and just slip it between the pillow and the pillowcase or just lay it nearby. Soon, you’ll be in la-la land. There really is no place like home, but we can trick our bodies into thinking that we’re resting there even when we’re on vacations.
7. Let the Music Play
Music is one of the easiest ways that you can bring the spa experience anywhere. It’s calming and promotes a response of relaxation. You can play your favorite soothing music to help you deal with stress, near your bedtime to relax, or just as beautiful music to listen to during your personal spa treatments. There are different types of spa music. I like Eastern sounds and light piano, but I also like classical chamber music too. Downloads are fairly inexpensive for spa music. Most hotels now provide docking stations for your smartphones, which is great. Make an a enjoyable playlist at home and bring it with you on your next vacation. Sip some green tea and do some mini-meditations. Invigorate, calm, and soothe yourself through your music. Don’t forget to include a sensual playlist to enjoy with a loved one over a glass of Champagne. Let the music play!
8. Tub or Shower? Why Not Both?
If you have a tub available in your hotel bathroom, soak away aches, pains, and toxins while you rejuvenate your body. Fill the tub with warm water, but do not make the common mistake of filling it with really hot water as it can dry out your skin and make you feel tired. You want to feel soothed and relaxed, not fatigued. Add some body wash to the water, and if there are roses in the room throw in a few petals for a touch of elegance and nature.
Some modern hotels offer large steam showers in lieu of a soaking tub, and these are great too. In fact, I prefer the rain-like drizzle of a shower head. If you have one of these steam showers in your hotel bathroom, then you’re in luck. However, you can catch a perfectly good steam in a regular shower too. Turn on the shower with enough hot water to cause steam. Breathe deep, massage your body, and get super-hydrated. Let that steam open up your pores and detox away any impurities. Extra points if your hotel shower is large enough for some company!
Combine two or three of the treatments outlined above and enjoy your very own personal “Spa Day While Away.” We did this a couple of times when we were stuck in our room because of an all-day monsoon. If your hotel or resort offers spa services, I encourage you to give them a shot. I find that most of them are pretty reasonably priced and well worth it. If your hotel does not offer spa services, now you know what you can do, using simple ingredients and materials found most anywhere, to create your very own spa.