The Ultimate Spa Day


About once or twice a year, I meet up with a group of friends at various local spas for a luxurious morning of pampering. Our ultimate- and ambitious- goal is to visit every luxury spa in the Bay Area (see the list of our favorite places below).

These visits happen just infrequently enough that I always forget what I am supposed to bring with me. This may sound trivial, but if you are missing certain key items, you won’t be able to take full advantage of what each spa has to offer.

So I have created a list of necessities to help those like me who don’t spa often enough to remember.

  1. Your bathing suit: This is the most important item to remember. Most luxury spas have some combination of a hot tub, sauna, and steam room, so forgetting a suit means you miss out on a lot of the fun. I recommend arriving at least an hour before your treatment so that you can enjoy these opportunities first, as they will help your muscles relax and put you in the right mindset.
  2. A bag for your wet suit. I don’t really need to elaborate on this one, but this will prevent everything else in your bag from turning wet and soggy.
  3. Sunscreen. Especially if you are receiving a facial or other skin treatment that might leave you feeling sensitive to the sun.
  4. Water. Hydration is particularly important if you plan to spend any time at the sauna, steam room, or hot tub.
  5. Snacks. Depending on the length of your spa day, it might be wise to bring some light snacks such as almonds, trail mix, or fruit to keep you going. I never like to eat a heavy meal before a treatment, so I tend to get hungry mid-morning, and having a massage with a rumbling tummy isn’t very relaxing!
  6. Clothes and make up. We typically go out for lunch afterwards, so it’s nice to bring something cute to wear, especially since you will have the luxury of getting dressed without children hanging all over you or calling your name every 10 seconds. Enjoy this time!
  7. Cash/wallet in a plastic baggie. As un-classy as this sounds, I do this just so that my nice wallet doesn’t get wet or oily after all the treatments you’ve been through.
  8. Flip flops. Most luxury spas provide you with appropriate sandals, but if you are picky about your footwear then bring something that is comfortable and waterproof.
  9. Hair brush. ‘Nuf said.
  10. Minimal jewelry. The less jewelry you have on, the less you have to worry about losing anything if you decide to remove it for a treatment or procedure. Most masseuses prefer you wearing no jewelry; it makes their job easier with less restrictions or accommodations.

If you love spas, don’t forget to check out some of my favorites on the peninsula (in no particular order):

  • Sense Spa at the Rosewood Hotel: located in Menlo Park right off 280, this spa is very peaceful and easy to get to. 
  • Burke Williams Spa: with locations in San Francisco and San Jose, there is no excuse to miss out on this place, with multiple different steam and sauna options as well as a napping room.
  • The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay: this ocean-side retreat uses many local ingredients. Don’t forget to have s’mores afterwards on the beach!
  • Four Seasons in Palo Alto: while a little smaller space, they use it well and it’s very relaxing.

Looking to get off the peninsula? Check out these places for a day trip or overnight stay:

  • Healing Arts Center and Spa at Cavallo Point: I haven’t been here, but I’ve heard the views of the bay are breath-taking. Just across the bridge, you feel like you are years away from all the stresses in your life.
  • Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn: This is a peaceful oasis in wine country. Enjoy their expansive spa with mineral baths and Watsu pool, the lay poolside all afternoon enjoying their drink and food menu.
  • Sense Spa also has a beautiful San Martin location at the Rosewood Cordevalle.  This is a world away and is the perfect weekend getaway for rest and relaxation.  The spa is only part of this package- there is golf, a winery, fine dining, and luxury rooms!

Have a local favorite? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

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Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.


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