Making Your Spa Choice: Tips From an Insider with Dana Bass Smith

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Dana Bass Smith, general manager of Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., will discuss what to look for when choosing a spa.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Event_Moderator Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we will be discussing "How To Choose A Spa: An Insider's Tips", with Dana Bass Smith. Currently the general manager of Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa, Dana Bass Smith has been professionally involved in the spa industry for 20 years. She studied at the British School of Healing Arts in Cambridge, England and the Upledger School in Jupiter Beach, Florida and has made the study and implementation of innovative spa therapies her life's work. Under Smith's direction, Two Bunch Palms was featured in such publications as Gentlemen's Quarterly and was rated as one of the top five spa resorts in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine and one of the top 10 by Conde Nast Traveler. Since 1997, she has also participated in service work as a member of the marketing committee of the International Spa Association and is currently a board member of Hollyhock, an educational retreat center on Cortez Island in British Columbia. Smith is the mother of four teenagers and an avid hiker who is actively concerned with protection! Smith will be discussing the healing powers that natural hot springs, quiet retreats, and quality time for the self can bring. The web site for Two Bunch Palms is located at

Dana, welcome to WebMD Live. What should a person look for when choosing a spa?

Dana_Bass_Smith Some of the best ways in which to choose the spa for you are composed of the following thoughts ....Number one, what location and climate are you most desiring to spend some time in? Number two, do you prefer a more formal environment, or a more casual place to have a spa experience? Number three, are you looking for a fitness spa, a nurturing restorative spa, or a place to get alone with a loved one and take care of yourself at the same time?

Event_Moderator Should a spa's history be a major factor in the decision?

Dana_Bass_Smith A person looking for their first spa experience should always consider the spa's reputation, number of years in the business, as well as their history. I suggest looking at the International Spa Association's website, it's This website defines spas through their traditions, offerings and categories, as well as geographic locations. Through a spa guide such as this, a person would have the opportunity to research what they are really looking for without the pressures of a travel agent or salesperson. One of my best suggestions for someone who would like to have a spa experience and yet isn't certain what type of spa they would like to choose for an extended trip would be to look in their home location and find a day spa package which may introduce them to the experience of their local and possibly long-distance spa. For example, although Two Bunch Palms caters to our resort guests with a two-night minimum, we do offer a day spa package which includes use of the natural hot springs, two one-hour spa treatments, and an exquisite lunch of their choice. It is important when purchasing a day spa or regular spa package to define what is truly included. In the case of our day spa package, in the price of $225, all gratuities and taxes and use of facilities are included. It's important to ask as many questions as one feels comfortable with in order to set the tone for a deeply relaxing and enjoyable day or week.

Event_Moderator What are some of the characteristics of a "bad" spa?

Dana_Bass_Smith Some of the characteristics of a not so positive spa experience might be that the staff can be rushed, unfriendly and impersonal. A good question to ask the spa reception staff might be 'how experienced are your massage and esthetician staff?' 'How long has the average therapist or technician worked at your resort?' For those of you with access to cyberspace, it may be interesting to look on the hiring page of your chosen spa's website when defining the type of experience each spa requires. It's interesting to note what qualities the spa is looking for in their staffing. Another not-so-positive attribute might be, again, the definition of the type of spa that is right for you, the individual. Some guests expect that all spas include extensive workout facilities. However, there are many spas which define their extraordinary guest experience through rest, extraordinary treatments, and deep restoration. If you are someone who is looking for a structured physical experience, it would be a good idea to direct your choices towards a destination spa. Some destination spas include the Canyon Ranch in Arizona, The Greenbriar, and the Oaks at Ojai. Many people are looking for a true mineral springs spa where natural hot mineral water comes bubbling out of the earth.

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