Is it Safe to Visit a Spa During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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By Erin Nicole Davis

In this current climate of stress and uncertainty, taking care of oneself, both physically and mentally, remains more important than ever – in fact, self-care has never been more important.

For many, the beloved spa experience is central to de-stressing, refocusing and rejuvenating. Naturally, some may have questions about entering a spa in our COVID-19 era. “People are naturally cautious about any business that brings them in close contact with others, which is understandable,” said Emma Keider, Communications manager, Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. “The spa industry has been very responsive in modifying their services and adapting their practices to operate safely.”

With its abundance of nature experiences and healing red rocks, Sedona makes a no-fail wellness-centric destination. Adding to the wellness factor is the fact that the region is filled with award-winning spas – and, according to Keider, they’ve taken every measure possible to ensure the guest experience is as safe as it is stress-free.

“Hundreds of local businesses have signed the Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready commitment, which means they are following CDC guidelines and recommendations, while taking the extra steps to keep their customers safe and healthy,” said Keider. “Some of the commitments include adopting an enhanced sanitation procedure, wearing masks and gloves, implementing touchless solutions, and taking appointments to manage capacity. Employees are happy to talk with you about their adaptations and you should check out any spa or wellness experience you are considering in Sedona.”

Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa

If you’re in the market for a spa-filled Sedona experience, you have no shortage of options. For example, Sedona’s New Day Spaeforea Spa by Hilton and The Spa at Sedona Rouge are all quite popular, says Keider. “Mii Amo in Boynton Canyon is also very popular, and is going to be closing in January 2021 for an extensive renovation and expansion and will reopen again in the spring of 2022,” she says.  (Editor’s note: Mii Amo is one of our favourite U.S. spas.)

Meanwhile on the east coast at North Carolina’s Skyterra Wellness Retreat, heightened measures have been in place since the onset of the pandemic. “At Skyterra, our guests’ health and safety is our primary concern. We have a rigorous screening process for every employee and guest on campus,” says Teresa Oster, Skyterra General Manager. “We screen all guests prior to arrival and reschedule them if they have exposure to or symptoms of COVID. All staff and guests are monitored for symptoms on a daily basis, with daily temperature checks as well.”

The Spa at Skyterra has done things such as removed treatment room rugs from under the face rests, keeping windows open for circulation of their fresh mountain air, and have extended time between services to wipe down all surfaces. They’ve also added an easy-to-disinfect divider to all of their tables, and are washing all room linens after each guest, including top blankets and throw blankets. The spa purchased more blankets to allow for this necessary practice.

The Spa at Syterra Wellness Retreat

“Spas already had a high standard for cleanliness, and I feel we have improved upon our standards to ensure that we are doing our best for our guests and team members’ health,” said Heidi Plant, Spa Manager at Skyterra Wellness Retreat. “Our spa is exclusive to our Skyterra guests and our small size, fresh air, and care for our guests’ wellbeing keeps everyone safe.”

Scheduling a spa visit remains as important as ever for guests. With the assurance that it’s a safe experience, the refuge offered within the serene walls of a spa provides a welcome contrast to the COVID-19-dominated news cycle.

“I was unsure about how this would affect our industry, but I was surprised at how many people need massage for their physical and emotional well being,” said Plant. “With this pandemic, people have not had body work in several months, and have been existing at a heightened level of stress and anxiety. The amount of gratitude, appreciation and kindness they’ve expressed has been gratifying to experience.”

As it turns out, there hasn’t been a great change in terms of customer preference with spa services in the wake of COVID-19. “I anticipated more nail services and fully clothed services, but that has not been the case,” said Plant. “Massage and body work are still the most requested services.”

“The world is in a heightened level of stress, and our bodies can not endure chronic stress without negative side effects,” said Plant. “Anything that can provide a shift from your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) is beneficial to our overall health and mental wellbeing. Spas help to do that.”

While your local spa may make the most sense in our current climate, it’s never too early to plan your wellness travel bucket list. Some of our other favourite spots to enjoy the spa experience include Punta Cana’s Eden Roc Cap Cana, Florida’s Carillon Miami and Virginia’s Eupepsia Wellness Retreat Resort.

If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19-inspired sanitation measures of your desired spa, most will outline such measures online, or will be happy to answer questions over the phone.

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Erin Nicole Davis is a Toronto-based writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.