By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
The spahhh experience
For brides-to-be or anyone feeling frazzled a spa can help relieve some of lifes pressures
Many facials, such as the ones offered at the Healing Arts Spa in Gainesville, also include a shoulder and neck massage. - photo by Tom Reed

Here come the brides!

It’s wedding season, but before a bride walks down the aisle to wedded bliss, she can take a break from the stress of planning at a local spa.

“It’s a good way for people to have some time together and yet relax,” said Jane Clarke, spa director at The Healing Arts Spa in Gainesville.

Whether it’s a full body treatment, a personalized facial or a spa getaway in the mountains, don’t worry, ladies — relaxation is just a short drive away.

But what can you expect once you get there? Here’s a breakdown of some services spas provide that are popular among the soon-to-be-wedded set.

Ready for your close-up? Getting a facial can make your skin pretty and smooth for those wedding photos, but they’re also just plain relaxing. A good esthetician will also analyze your skin type, tailoring your facial to your personal needs, and recommend products and procedures to help your spa glow keep glowing in between visits.

At The Healing Arts Spa, facials are all about personalization.

“(One) type is our Anakiri custom facial, and we customize each facial in this particular offering to the person’s skin care needs,” said Clarke. “They don’t have to choose ahead of time without really understanding what they’d be choosing anyway.”

How does it work?

“A facial involves a whole process of cleansing, toning, steaming, exfoliating, moisturizing and massage,” said Clarke, adding that facials can also address “special needs,” such as skin with acne, or offer anti-aging properties.

“We have one called the natural results facial, and it uses a pumpkin enzyme mask, which is a peel-off mask. It really is a wonderful treatment to nourish the cells with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It’s mainly to diminish fine lines and it draws out impurities, but it also nourishes the cells,” she said.

Clarke said it’s not just the ladies who want perfect skin.

“We also offer a gentleman’s facial. Most of our male guests are here for massage, but more are coming in for facials,” she said. “If we can keep them awake, they find it very relaxing.”

Rosalie Schug of Cleveland, the esthetician at Pura Vida, a spa and bed and breakfast in Dahlonega, performs hand and foot massages to clients while the facial mask does its magic.

“I take it as a compliment” when clients fall asleep, Schug said.

If you want your facial’s results to last after you step out the door, Schug will recommend products and procedures for your specific skin type.

Schug said she focuses on ingredients, not brands, and tries to help clients learn how to use what they already have.

She said she recommends monthly facials, but no matter how often you have them, taking care of your skin daily makes each facial more effective.

“It’s hard to undo a month’s worth of damage in one and a half hours,” she said.

To keep your skin beautiful, Schug said to add sunscreen to moisturizer when you apply it in the morning, and cleanse skin twice daily, making sure to remove all traces of makeup.


It’s not just a rub-down — there’s a science to massage, and, like facials, they can be customized to fit your personal needs. You can ask your massage therapist to press more lightly, or get a deep-tissue massage if your muscles need some serious working.

Clients begin by lying on a table face down with their head placed in a horseshoe-shaped support to allow breathing. You can remain partially clothed or completely disrobe, and your body will be draped with a towel or a sheet while the massage therapist works.

There are many types of massage, but one classic form — and what is often recommended to beginners — is Swedish massage.

In a Swedish massage, the therapist first uses long, flowing movements to decrease tension and spread lotion, then kneads and applies friction, compression and vibration.

While they’re oh-so-relaxing, massages can do more than just feel good.

“It increases circulation and increases your immunity. It can improve your range of motion,” said Barbara Rider of Dahlonega, the massage therapist at Pura Vida.

“It releases the body’s endorphins, which is a natural pain killer,” she said.

Body treatments

Body treatments also often involve massage, making them a good deal if you want to get the most relaxing bang for your buck. At American Salon & Spa in Gainesville, the favorite among spa guests is the Caribbean Therapy Body Treatment, which includes exfoliation with a body scrub and a full body massage.

Hot water-soaked towels are placed on each body part after it has been exfoliated, and the therapist wraps insulating blankets around the guest to allow the treatment to sink in.

“We have a high request for it before summer because it helps your skin prep for tanning season,” said Dana Gessner, part owner of American Salon & Spa.

If you’re picturing yourself mummy-style at the thought of a “wrap,” Gessner said not to worry.
“It has so many different elements to it,” said Gessner. “It’s nothing that would ever make you feel claustrophobic. It’s more like a swaddling, snuggling feeling.”

If you don’t have enough time for a long body treatment session, you can try a dry wrap.

Gessler said “dry” wraps aren’t really dry, but involve a moisturizing treatment and wrapping the body in muslin. Dry wraps also don’t require clients to shower.

Regional events