By: Revanche

Luxury experiences: The Massage

December 28, 2010

Not long after my return from the UK, PiC surprised me with a visit to a not quite so local spa. Normally, I schedule my therapeutic massage appointments according to a fairly strict set of PF-guided rules:

1. Very local (to combat the psychological barrier of laziness – I won’t drag myself out to go),
2. Must be some deal that works out to paying about $50 or less for an hour,
3. Doesn’t have to be exceedingly highly rated because if they’re new, it should still be pretty good, but it can’t have already gotten bad reviews.

Flying in the face of all of these, he’d just looked for the most highly rated spa in what he considers a reasonable radius, booked an appointment for me, and told me we were going some place I’d never heard of, in a city that was too far away in my opinion but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t driving, and told me to be ready to leave by a certain time.

He’d already even paid for the massage so I couldn’t cancel it, insisting that it priced comparably with any other 60-minute massage.  Me, feebly, “but, that’s regular price!”  Realized I didn’t even know what appointment was booked after we got there, but as I was ushered from the usual, semi-generic front room to the women’s dressing room (!!) it stopped mattering.

Women’s dressing room? Wha?  My Groupon massages have you undress in the massage room that’s good enough for me… warmed robes? Slippers in a variety of sizes?  A vanity complete with hairdressing supplies for after? Lockers for your belongings?   Befuddlement changed to bemusement.

And of course you shuffle to the next room, berobed and beslippered, into a lounge complete with cushy seats, to sip cucumber water, teas, and nibble on biscotti and muffiny things.

By the time I got to the actual massage, which was the first massage I’ve had since moving that came close to relieving much of my chronic pain in a single session owing much to the skill and technique of my practitioner, not just the warm table, hot towels and prewarmed lotions, I was a muddle of “I should have put more into my FSA.”

To conclude the visit, they even had a small shower room with shower products that flung me back to the early days of dating PiC, ironically enough.  Not leave a massage with lion hair? Yes please!

As much as I’m about stretching every nickel and dime, I’m absolutely tempted to come back to that massage experience even at almost twice my accepted price point.  Yes, I know, lifestyle inflation, but …!

Then again, as I try to gently detach my attachment to the new place, honesty compels me to admit I’ve been cheap on the massage front.  I’ve only been lukewarm about all of the massages I’ve had since moving; they haven’t been very effective because the practitioners I’ve tried so far haven’t been more than ok. This one was the best one not just in comparison but actually practically compares to my friend, the therapist who once routinely pulled all my knots out by dint of knowing me, my medical history and my pain problems.  Add to that my reluctance to schedule appointments and I haven’t actually been spending the budget on worthwhile massages.

This may be a case of being too cheap for my own good.

At best, I might manage one appointment per month or two.  In a year, that’d cost between $600-1200.  That’s quite high.  But in combination with an exercise regimen that expands in scope with each improvement I make, that’s better health and less medication to take.  And taking the long view, if I’m going to get massages, I might as well get the ones that work, no?

Whether or not I ever go back, I’m just happy that it was entirely entertaining to be pampered and that I don’t take one ounce of it for granted.

16 Responses to “Luxury experiences: The Massage”

  1. Wow!

    I have to say that absence of pain is worth a LOT of money. It sounds like something that should definitely be a spending priority.

    And your significant other is a great guy.

  2. Karen says:

    Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish 🙂
    If the mediocre massages don’t alleviate pain, then you’re just blowing money.
    That place may have packages or reward points. My salon has reward points.

  3. You could also ask if they give discounts for bulk purchases or buying in advance. 🙂

  4. mOOm says:

    I’ve hardly ever had a massage but there is a huge difference between someone who is good and someone who is not. The best was a former girlfriend who was a physical therapist.

  5. Serendipity says:

    How nice of PiC! And it’s nice to treat yourself, so I think the investment in massages might be totatlly worth it!

  6. What a lovely gift!

    Is it possible that having a much better massage would result in you needing to go less frequently — ie, you wouldn’t actually be spending any more money by going to the nicer place?

    And Karen’s point is a good one: if the mediocre massages don’t work, it’s not money well spent, even if it’s a “bargain”.

  7. I definitely agree w/ Karen. Money spent on “so-so” massages aren’t worth it if you don’t feel better afterwards!

    I don’t get as many massages as I’d like over the course of a year, but each and every one of them has been amazing b/c I was willing to spend just a little bit more.

  8. ss4bc says:

    I’m so with Karen, spending money on something that doesn’t help is foolish!

    Is it possible to get ultra awesome massage half as often as mediocre massage to make up for the price difference?

  9. GO GO GO GO!

    Money is meant to be spent not hoarded. And it isn’t as though you don’t have a job and are going to a spa. And you have pain 🙁

  10. Another thought… is this something you could get a prescription for from your doctor and save for in an HSA for the tax advantage?

  11. psychsarah says:

    I personally consider this a medical expense, and not a cosmetic luxury (e.g., manicures, facials). I have developed back and hip problems over the past year, and without a professional massage every 3-4 weeks, I would have been a disaster, spending my work days in pain, and my evenings on the couch trying to recover for the next day. I budgeted in these treatments, as they improve my quality of life tremendously. At $75 an hour, it’s not cheap, but my health benefits cover $500/year, which helps a lot. I hope you can make it work in your budget, so you can enjoy the health benefits.

  12. Ruth says:

    That sounds almost exactly like the place I went for my birthday. In my case, some lovely friends got together and gave me a spa card, so I had to go. It did wonders for my nerves even before I got into the massage. I think it’s a reasonable expense now and then, at least if you can find the money…

  13. a good massage therapist is priceless. especially if you have back and shoulder pain. I agree that you shouldn’t pay on it frivolously though but if your current MRT isn’t helping to alleviate the pain, then it’s time to search elsewhere (and dare I say *gasp* pay more for a better MRT)

  14. ashley says:

    What a great gift! This definitely sounds like a case where more expensive might really be worth it. I agree with what Karen says– if you aren’t satisfied afterwards then there isn’t much point to it.

  15. I do love a massage, but I always get the jitters right before I book. One time I said, Screw It and went for it. It was the best experience of my life. I guess I need to muster up enough gusto to go back!

  16. Please be good enough to yourself to re-book, asking some of the questions suggested by others (e.g., a cheaper rate if you buy a package of four or five).
    Consider it an investment in health and well-being. Chronic pain can often be managed with help like this.
    If you’re really concerned about the cost, perhaps you could economize in a couple of other areas of your budget?
    Glad it helped you feel better.

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