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Enjoy rugged relaxation at adventure spas

Hiking, biking, kayaking, and rock climbing. Gourmet cuisine and fine wines. Facials, massages, and pedicures. These elements and more can be found at an adventure spa, and while most spa excursions are known as indulgent and pricey, your trip need not require a year’s worth of saving. Here are some tips to enable you to enjoy a rugged, relaxing adventure-spa getaway on a limited budget.

What is an adventure spa?

As many travelers know, a spa vacation can involve multiple elements, from day trips to extended getaways, a variety of treatments and activities, and properties that cater to specific travelers. By definition, an adventure spa “offers spa treatments, healthy gourmet food, and an abundance of outdoor activity,” states Deborah Evans, general manager of the Red Mountain Spa in Utah.

Who goes to such a spa?

According to Evans, many adventure-spa goers are looking “for learning or advancement in outdoor skills … and are active vacationers who want a healthy and active” trip. Guests typically want to combine adventurous, outdoorsy activities by day with pampering spa services and luxury treatments by night. Travelers of all fitness levels are usually welcome, with activities tailored from novice to advanced athletic skills. However, Evans notes that “at some destinations, guests must be in great physical shape due to the nature of the activities.” Be sure to speak with a spa representative so you have a good sense of what’s offered, and to make sure you’ll be able to participate in the adventurous outings.

What types of activities are available?

At an adventure spa, you’ll have a typical variety of spa treatments such as massages, facials, sauna services, and more. However, as the emphasis is on outdoor activities and physical fitness, typical excursions could include rock climbing, kayaking, biking, hiking, yoga, and other strenuous endeavors to make you sweat. Usually, guests can choose from a variety of fitness classes, hikes, and healthy-living courses each week, balancing time outside and time at the spa.

Where are they located?

To find an adventure spa in the destination you wish to visit, good places to start your research include:

What should you expect to spend and what are ways to save?

As noted, spa vacations tend to be more extravagant than frugal. Their products and services are traditionally luxurious, and prices follow accordingly. Expect to spend several hundred dollars per day, per person. Evans noted that the Red Mountain Spa typically costs $250 to $500 per day, which includes room, board, and activities. Rates will vary depending on the activities, meals, and class of room you choose.

There are ways to save, however, if you do your homework. Evans recommended the following strategies:

  • Look at the activities that are included in the daily fee and what additional charges may be incurred. Most inclusive vacations are quoted per person, per night, so if you share a room with a traveling partner, you usually can save $40 to $75 per night.
  • The timing of your arrival may also save some dollars. If you go on the cusp of a season, you may get a good promotional rate, but still be able to enjoy the weather. Off-season rates are often lower than in-season, so if you have the flexibility to travel, savings are usually substantial.
  • Purchasing packaged items such as spa services, health and fitness assessments, and consultations and personal training often will save you 10 to 15 percent.
  • An all-inclusive rate usually offers the most value.
  • Most destinations offer a group rate if you are planning on traveling with family or friends.

Additionally, see what’s available for when you want to travel. If you have your heart set on visiting a certain, more high-end adventure spa, but can’t afford a whole week, inquire to see if day- or multi-day packages are available. Or, ask if discounts are available based on duration or timing, such as extended-stay offers or sales for a visit on a midweek day. Inquire about online-only, seasonal, or holiday promotions for extra savings, and plan accordingly.

Check to see if the spa has any partners that may have added value for discounts or extras, such as promotions with airlines, travelers’ clubs, the state or local CVB, or credit cards. While you may not get a chunk taken off your bill, you may get an extra perk that you would not have been able to indulge in otherwise.

When deciding, think more of the spa’s value to you as a traveler, rather than just the price tag. Assess the area’s options, compare offerings and prices between spas, and figure out how many of the spa’s services you’ll actually use. Once those are determined, you’ll be a better-educated consumer, and you’ll ensure that you’ve gotten the most adventurous, yet still pampering trip possible for your budget.

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