Health & Beauty

What’s in a Name? The Difference Between Spas

What’s in a Name? The Difference Between Spas

If you’ve ever stayed at a luxury hotel or swanky resort property, you’ve probably taken note of a spa menu. If you think the spa is just a money-grab for your hotel, think again! Chances are your hotel spa is just as good as a stand-alone spa. There are, however, differences to what spas offer.

Types of Spas

Many businesses bill themselves as a spa, but what does that mean? Depending on the types of treatments and services offered, they can go by numerous names. A spa may have board-certified plastic surgeons, aestheticians, nurses, and massage therapists on staff. This affects the spa menu, and what it’s called.




  • Airport Spa
  • Cruise Ship, Hotel, or Resort Spa
  • Day Spa
  • Destination Spa 
  • Medical Spa
  • Mineral Springs Spa


Let’s take a closer look at these types of spas, and the services you might expect at each.

Airport Spa

Who doesn’t find themselves a little stressed in the airport? Whether you’ve arrived hours early so you don’t miss your flight or you’re waiting during a layover, you could probably use some pampering.


It’s not uncommon to see kiosks with massage chairs, or small shops that offer treatments to travelers in airports. You may also find oxygen therapy administered by an aesthetician, or close shaves offered by a barber. Airport spas typically offer a variety of services that may include the following:


  • Aromatherapy
  • Facials
  • Haircuts/shave
  • Massage
  • Salt booth therapy
  • Waxing


Many menu items are meant to be done in a timely manner so you can find yourself on your way again without any delay. Airport spas offer non-invasive and non-surgical treatments that are meant to de-stress you while you travel, or help you look and feel your best before arriving at your destination.

Cruise Ship, Hotel, or Resort Spa

A spa on vacation often includes access to a fitness center, a sauna, and myriad treatments to enhance your vacay vibes. Resort spas may have the added luxury of a gorgeous environment, such as beach views, lush vegetation, or a quiet mountainside. While an airport spa is a great idea for calming your nerves while traveling, they don’t have the advantage of serene surroundings quite like a resort spa!


When you book spa treatments while on vacation, you usually have to pay for each service (or combination service) separately, aka á la carte. It’s not an included service for guests on the ship, or who are staying at the hotel/resort.


A hotel spa, like the one found at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, is a great place to wind down if you’re traveling on business, treat yourself if you’re on a honeymoon, or get glam for a night on the town. Much like a stand-alone spa, treatments range from massages and facials to body scrubs and waxing.

Day Spa

You will usually find aesthetic treatments at a day spa that are non-surgical. Whether it’s a quick visit or you give yourself all day, the focus is on non-invasive services that pamper and rejuvenate your body. Common day spa menus offer:


  • Facials
  • Haircuts or hair styling for special occasions
  • Lash extensions
  • Makeup application
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Massages
  • Waxing


Day spas may also have saunas and salon services as well, making them a one-stop-shop for hair, skin, and nail treatments.

Destination Spa

Have you ever dreamed of a weekend getaway at a spa? That’s what a “destination spa” usually refers to. The spa services may be complemented by other activities, such as meditation or yoga. There’s an emphasis on relaxation and unplugging from the rest of the world at a destination spa. You could expect to find many of the same treatments that are offered by a day spa, including mud baths, mani-pedis, and massages.


A key difference with a destination spa is that you usually purchase a package with included services. Treatments are not in addition to your stay; they are the main reason for it and will determine your price point. You’re not only paying for the spa services in your package but your room and board as well.

Medical Spa

A big distinction in a medical spa is the staff; unlike other spas, the services offered here are overseen by a doctor. For example, Barr Aesthetics in Utah offers spa treatments as well as surgical, non-surgical, and non-invasive procedures. Staff at a med spa is supervised by a doctor and can include master aestheticians and nurse practitioners. In addition to consulting with patients regarding beauty services, a medical spa has a wider range of procedures:


  • Body contouring
  • Botox (or other injectibles)
  • Brow lifts
  • Dermal fillers
  • Facial plastic surgery
  • Hair restoration
  • Laser hair removal
  • Laser skin treatments
  • Microblading
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Scar rejuvenation
  • Tattoo removal
  • Waxing


In short, a medspa often goes beyond surface treatments and requires prior consultation with a doctor before committing to a procedure. You probably won’t find medical spas at many resorts, in airports, or on a cruise ship, but it is possible to book extended stays at them in order to undergo procedures and convalesce. 

Mineral Springs Spa

Sometimes the word “spa” refers to a mineral hot spring. The reason is that in Latin, the word “spa” translates to “health by water.” It’s also why some people call their hot tubs spas. For centuries, people have flocked to hot springs for rejuvenation in the form of a soothing soak.


It was believed that mineral springs held healing properties since the thermal waters could contain various salts, iron, potassium, or other non-toxic minerals. Today, there are resorts and spas built around existing hot springs so guests can take advantage of the benefits.




Burns Calories

Much like sitting in a hot sauna, sitting in a hot spring can burn calories. 


Improved Circulation

The heat of a mineral spring can improve blood circulation. 


Pain Relief

Just like a soak in a regular bath, a soak in mineral springs can relieve aches and pains in the body. 


Skin Soother

The minerals in hot springs, such as sulfur, can help clear acne, and relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. 


Whether a mineral springs spa offers additional treatments or not, it may still be the right type of spa for you. Many people experience better sleep after a mineral soak, as well as reduced feelings of stress. There are hot springs all over the United States, and you can check out some of the best HERE. Some of the best are found in the Western US, with a high concentration in Nevada.


Samantha hails from Virginia and is a proud wife to a retired Deputy Sheriff and mother to two amazing little boys named Jack & William. A veteran product reviewer; Samantha has been reviewing products for 12 years and offers high quality product reviews with original photography.

Samantha hails from Virginia and is a proud wife to a retired Deputy Sheriff and mother to two amazing little boys named Jack & William. A veteran product reviewer; Samantha has been reviewing products for 12 years and offers high quality product reviews with original photography.

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