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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, October 09, 2005


A tale of three spas

My husband's birthday was last week and when I was trying to figure out what to get the man who has everything and also wants nothing, I sought the help of my friends. "Get him an outing!" they replied, "How about a night out?" So I thought long and hard about what kind of an outing would make he-who-likes-not-to-socialize happy, and I came up with the idea of hot tubbing. And massages.


And so I booked an hour-long hot tub and two hour-long massages at a spa that we've never visited but that came highly recommended, Watercourse Way in downtown Palo Alto. Our night out at the spa was last night and tonight I've logged on to tell you, It was worth every penny.

I've been to many spas in my lifetime. Some were no more than hot tubs in ugly rooms, some were for women only (Osento), and some were truly awesome (Ten Thousand Waves). Last night's outing has inspired me to tell you about my three favorite spas. All of these are good picks for date nights to be remembered.

The Well Within. Santa Cruz, CA
The Well Within is a nice low-key spa located in downtown Santa Cruz. It's especially nice for date nights because of its "couples special", which includes an hour-long hot tub and two hour-long massages for (last time I checked) $110. I like this place because it's located across the street from a great cafe; it's just one block over from downtown Santa Cruz and its shopping and dining; they provide hot tea when you get into your hot tub room; and they allow you to book your massages first followed by your hot tub. Most places don't want to book your massage after your hot tub because of the oils. (Even though they all provide showers in the hot tub rooms, I guess they can't be sure that you'll take one.)

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Well Within an 8.

Watercourse Way. Palo Alto, CA
Watercourse Way is a beautiful place. I was very impressed with their service; their well-stocked gift shop, which makes waiting for your hot tub an actual pleasure; and their clean and spacious hot tub rooms. I was less impressed by the cost, but when I saw that our hot tub room had a built-in nook for "relaxing" between dips, I quickly decided that the place was worth it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Watercourse Way a 10.

Ten Thousand Waves. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ten Thousand Waves is a spa so magical that I almost can't find the words to describe it. They have insanely awesome private rooms as well as a co-ed communal tub, cold plunge, and sauna located on a beautiful New Mexico hillside. The place is huge and has something for everyone. The communal pool is the least expensive way to get your spa on, but they also offer high-end rooms with tea service and other amenities. If you are going anywhere near Santa Fe--where everyone who isn't a potter is a massage therapist--you have to visit Ten Thousand Waves. I insist.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Ten Thousand Waves an 11.

You'll notice that I didn't write much about the massages I've received at these spas. This is because I believe massage to be highly subjective; the kind of massage I like might not be the kind of massage you like. If you're serious about adding body work to your life, your best bet is to find a massage therapist that you like and put him or her on your payroll.

If you can recommend a hot tub place/spa that we should check out, write me a comment. Don't worry; we'll travel if necessary!

[Thanks to Grammie Martha for babysitting while we ventured out.]