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March 26, 2009

Group discount for a spa day?

March 26. Day 268.

Yuck. I just had a sip of bottled water that tastes like a plastic chemical crap.


Ok. So.

I've taken on my first assignment as an asker!

Every few weeks, I get together with a group of girls and we hang out. Watch a movie, go out for dinner, whatever. One of them suggested we have a spa day, and I offered to call around and see what kind if group rate or special package I could find.

It's a weird tradition, if you think about it: have your body buffed and primed, poked and abrased, your hairs removed and your toxins sucked away by organic compounds, in public, for exorbitant prices, while discussing men. All in order to please the men you've just been discussing.

In any case. Here are the results of my first round of inquiries, in the order I called.

1. Indigo, a boutique salon and spa, offered 10 percent off of any individual service. No discounts on package deals (like massage and facial) because those are already discounted.

I didn't push for anything better. Other places to call first.

2. Aqua Day Spa, a larger outfit, offered ten sauna visits for $150 (aka $15 per person, from $20). For scrubs and massages, they have a "buy 10 get 1 free" $900 package (aka $81 per person).

I explained people might not want both scrub and massage, and $81 plus $15 for the sauna was above our budgets. Could we pay less and use less -- i.e. only massage or scrub, plus sauna?

"That's okay, in that case you will get a credit," she replied.

"I don't want to pay for something I won't use."

She was getting confused, or I was being confusing. (There was also a language barrier.) So I tried again, calmly and clearly:

"I'm trying to get the most competitive package. I am calling several places, and I will select the one that can work with my budget. I am looking for a package for 7 to 10 women, who want to pay around $60 to $70 for massage or scrub and sauna. Is that possible?"

(Yes, $60 is low, but that would let them raise it to $80 while including the sauna rather than tacking it on. I hope!)

She said she must check with the owner. Sounds good.

3. Estancia, in La Jolla, serenaded me with sexy bossa nova while the spa concierge made her way to the telephone. She the told me to email someone else to arrange this package. And the email she she gave me was from a different company, someone at "destination hotels" -- basically someone corporate.

Too much trouble. And from the look of their website, too pricey for a glorified nail salon. (Ok, fine, it is the lap of luxury! Sumptuous serene luxury! Luxury I can't afford! Next?)

4. Hair and Nail Studio. It's a small operation, family owned, and a far cry from Estancia. With prices to match. (Disclosure: I get my legs waxed there. Susan, the owner, is wonderful. Here's the website.)

I asked if we could get facials, plus mani-pedis, for $60. She thought about it, then agreed.

I think that's a great deal. But the vibe is more "maintenance" than "indulgence." Bright lights, can-do attitude. Not "ommmmmmm." I don't think the girls will go for it.

5. Hyde-Edwards looks great -- from its website and Yelp reviews, at least. (Though, I don't trust yelp ever since they took down my negative review of a place. Still, I use it once in a while for things like this -- lists of places to check out.)

She told me about their regular group special, which is full price, but includes free champagne and fruits.

I asked if it would be possible to get a discount on top of that. She said no.

Wrap-up: I didn't try very hard. Just by asking, I got up to 20 percent off of services at a mix of salons. And "free" champagne.

Next, I will go back and negotiate with the final two or tree contenders. Personally, I'm leaning for Aqua Day Spa. I'm all about the sauna!! Or Hyde-Edwards, if I could get those prices to come down just a bit.

Gained: Update next week.

(Above, pictures from spas around the world. What would an alien think... torture? birth canal? other aliens? )
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