Spa treatments at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs include natural hot springs and natural mud bathing in the traditional natural spa and offer massages and skin treatments at the commercial spa (Blue River Spa). Unfortunately, not everyone lives close to a tropical paradise like Costa Rica’s Blue River Resort and Hot Springs. Unless you happen to be on the north side of the volcano, Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste, most of us are just lucky to choose from the spa menu at their urban spa. Few places in the world offer healthy, natural mineral-rich hot springs like those freely flowing from the ground at Blue River Resort. Though many try to imitate, they fall short. We all owe it to ourselves to discover the differences and experience the spa treatments, complete with hot springs, mud bath and sauna set in the rainforest and then add from the spa menu.
Natural Spas or Commercial Spas
Let us examine spas, what they offer and what to stay away from.
First, let’s differentiate between the spas by placing them in two groups:
1. Natural Spas
The Blue River Resort and Hot Springs offers a natural spa experience and the other treatments found only in an active volcanic region. ‘Natural spas’
- exist in fewer than two-dozen countries worldwide.
2. Commercial Spas
Spas constructed in metropolitan areas lack the volcanic features needed to produce natural mineral water, steam and other spa products. ‘Commercial Spas’ must substitute their water sources, thus they lack the mineral rich enrichment in the water. So not being close to an active volcanic feature is a disadvantage. The volcanic resources are not there for them to tap-into and so they must be artificially substituted.
Commercial spas offer other treatments that are desirable, and readily available almost everywhere. Because their inputs are artificial it is easy for them to recreate their products at various locations. Soon they become as replicated as gyms and chain-stores. Commercial spas do offer a few treatments and processes that deliver relaxation and relief to patrons.
The following info will guide your understanding of spa offerings. It is an introduction to the terms used and what to expect. Understanding these terms will prevent disappointments that arise when a session is completed and the expected gains are not forthcoming; it could be a total waste of your money.
What Does Each Spa Offer?
Each Spa publishes (or displays) a ‘Menu’ of their available services. Clients should see what they are looking for on the Menu or move on. Persons going to a spa are seeking, stress relief, therapy, or relaxation. Genuine spas are more than ‘massage parlors’, today they specialize in therapeutic treatments for specific medical conditions. These include:
- Muscular treatments for relaxation, repair and strengthening
- Bone and skeletal adjustments
- Cranial therapies
- Skin treatments and beauty touch-ups
Knowing what you want to accomplish will guide the treatment you choose.
Here are a few things to know about spas before you reach for your cash.
Spas Use Water for Most Treatments
- There is a key difference between ‘A Natural Spa’ and an ordinary beauty ‘Spa’ or Commercial Spa- that difference is in the water. Depending on its source you may not be benefiting from the healing provided in natural spring water; instead it may simply be a nice bath. Some natural hot spring waters are drunk to heal from the inside. The water in a genuine spa must flow from a volcanic fault deep underground; there is no substitute for that.
- Commercial or Beauty Spas are more frequently found in crowded cities. They will promise some benefits found in a genuine spa but cannot deliver. Their healing and curative capabilities are limited. Don’t be disappointed, they can still provide some other excellent treatments. Understand their limitations.
Types of Spa Treatments
Modern spas offer one or more of these 3 basic treatments-
- External body treatments.
- Treatments of internal body parts.
- Cosmetic beautifying treatments.
A spa may offer the above treatments using various techniques, these they should display on the Spa’s Menu.
Each treatment offered in the spa is an item on the ‘Menu’. When visiting a spa, you will select an item from their Menu, so it is important to know what you are looking for. If it is not on the Menu then go somewhere else.
Spas differ in:
- What they offer.
- How it is applied.
- The cost.
Instead of listing all the possible variations, we will look at the basic ‘elements’ offered in spas generally. Remember to do your research if you require further clarification. ‘Google It’
Elements of a Spa Menu
Most treatments involve water as the main a therapy tools. Generally, the body is immersed in the water, so bathing or soaking in controlled-high-temperature water is the most commonly used method. The treatment is applied by:
- Hot Springs
- Japanese type hot springs, or
- Roman type hot springs
- Hot Tubs
- Hydro-therapy using water jets
Other methods of applying a non-aqueous treatment are by using other baths and wraps:
- Volcanic Mud baths
- Steam baths
- Volcanic Mud Wraps, Seaweed and other types of wraps
Saunas have delivered glowing heat treatments to many cultures for ages. Today, saunas are still one of the most commonly enjoyed spa elements.
“Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are dozens of types of massage therapy methods (also called modalities).”
Massages come in many forms but the one thing they share in common is relaxation. After a good massage, performed by the right hands, a client will continue to enjoy the benefits long after the session.
- Hot Rock
- Eastern Therapies
- Thai Massages
- Shiatsu Massages
- Craniosacral therapies- using slight finger pressure to stimulate the cranium, spine and pelvis.
Commercial spas may not have a flowing supply of genuine hot spring water produced by Mother Nature the old-fashioned way, but some do offer other treatments that are relaxing and otherwise beneficial to one’s health and peace-of-mind.
Simple as the name may sound, a ‘Beauty Treatment’ can have curative powers beyond mere acne treatments and skin exfoliations.
- Facials- Applied by an Esthetician (technicians licensed and trained to work on the external skin).
- Hair & Scalp treatments
- Hair removal (Waxing and other methods)
- Manicures and pedicures
The Signature Treatment
Most Spas offer a ‘Signature Treatment’, or the ‘House Special’; it may cost a little more than the other individual treatments. But it is usually a combination of their choice spa elements; presented in a ‘combo-package’ for their clients enjoyment.
Newer Spa Treatments
In the constant search for additional treatments, spas will add and update menu elements to introduce new treatments. Some recent Menu additions include:
- Psammotherapy- An exfoliating scrub in a bath of sand. Similarly, scrubs using salt, peat or pulp are also available.
- Psychic massage- A metaphysical spa treatment.
- Forest Bathing- Originating in Japan, Forest Bating is called sēnlínyù, or sanlimyok, in Mandarin. It is the latest rave is specialty spas; participants enjoy a relaxing bath in a stream in the forest. It is popular in Europe and some other countries.
- Blue River Tropical Rain Forest Bathing– Take a leisurely soak in the warm, blue waters of the Rio Azul, gently flowing through the rainforest in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The experience is enhanced by birds and other native creatures serenade bathers in the background. Combine the experience with a leisurely walk through the botanical, or butterfly gardens, it is a natural ‘stress-buster’. (Available exclusively at the Blue River Resort & Hot Springs)