THE TREATMENT What to look for

Some tips for finding your way through the fog (or steam):
Look for spas that are always good deals. Several people interviewed mentioned the Oaks at Ojai, Calif. Its midweek rates start at about $155 per person per night, double occupancy, with a two-night minimum, including lodging, meals and fitness classes; on five-, seven- and 12-night packages, it adds one to three treatments, depending on the length of stay. "It's not plush, but it's wonderful," says Kim Marshall, a spa consultant in Los Angeles.At a resort, book the treatments when you book the room to make sure you can get an appointment. Make sure the spa is open the hours you want to use it. "Don't be dazzled by the bells and whistles," Marshall says. "Look for the basics." The most common treatment request is still massage, and the main reason people go to spas is to relax.Specify your needs and medical limitations, especially heart or circulatory problems, to ensure that the treatments are appropriate.Look for spas that are members of the International Spa Association. Licensing requirements for massage therapists and other spa professionals vary from state to state. But ISPA requires members to adhere to a code of ethics, carry liability insurance and take various safety measures.

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