A Day at the Spa at Saratoga Springs

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Today’s article comes to us courtesy of TouringPlans reader “Bookish Belle.” BB graciously offered to document her trip to the Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs. When she’s not leaning out of her ivory tower and dreaming of all things Walt Disney World, Bookish Belle is an editor and professor. She caught the Disney obsession when she took her first trip to Disney World at five years old and counts convincing her husband to love the Mouse (and join DVC!) among her proudest achievements.

For the TouringPlans lowdown on resort spas, please check out this article on our site.

As an avid consumer of all things Walt Disney World, I was extremely surprised by the lack of online information about the Spa at Saratoga Springs. You can find descriptions of everything from trash cans to street lights, but when comes to spa services the Disney interwebs are strangely silent. Or so I discovered when having received a gift certificate for a day at the spa as a Christmas Gift (thanks, Dad!), I starting Googling my heart out, hoping to find stories of spa days and tips about the best treatments to experience at the Disney spas. To my disappointment, I found very little. So little, in fact, that, as both a Spa and Disney enthusiast, I contacted the Touring Plans folks to see if they’d be interested in my experience so that you, dear reader, would have the resources that I lacked!

My “spadventure” started with a review of the spa section in the Unofficial Guide, then I selected a location and a package to try. According to the Guide, the Spa at Saratoga Springs is the nicest on property. This information made an easy decision ever easier: since the Grand Floridian Spa was closed, and I was staying at the Treehouse Villas, trying out the Spa at Disney’s Saratoga would be a no brainer!

After perusing the choices on the Niki Bryan website, I settled on the DVC Package. It included a 30-minute Swedish massage, a facial and a mani/pedi combo. There are DVC discounts available on other packages to, so if you’re a member, make sure to bring your membership card!

In addition to these services, all spa treatments come with use of the spa facilities. So in addition to the 3 ½ hours of pampering, I could use the sauna, steam room, and hot tub to my heart’s content. These facilities, I was told, are not for the use of Saratoga Spring guests – only clients of the spa.

My first appointment was at 9:30, but I went over early to get some shots of the facilities. Since I was an early bird, I got a look at the spa when it was fresh for the day’s guests. As one would expect from a salon of this caliber, everything was done in soothing shades to encourage a blissful experience.

There was a lobby area where you waited to check in. And it had of course, the expected skin care and t-shirts for sale. Here’s where, alas, as a publishing author and a conscientious writing teacher, I have to offer my first word of criticism. The spa’s motto is “Relaxed, yet?” It’s all over the place – on the t-shirts, on the walls, on the stationary, on the price list. Now, I’m not a stickler for grammar – I make plenty of my own errors, and I know that language is a constantly-evolving set of communication practices, but WHAT THE HECK IS THAT COMMA DOING IN THERE? Why would they put a comma there? Why? And how do they expect teachers to relax with that misplaced comma all over the place. Please, Niki Bryan, give back your misplaced comma!

Whew – sorry about that – with a pseudonym like Bookish Belle, I just had to get that off my chest!

The dressing room – whose attendant was particularly helpful during my visit – had comfy robes and slippers, private changing rooms. The dressing room even had one of the few Disney touches I noted in the spa.

I hope you notice that Mickey has excellent writing skills.

The salon was one of the few areas where I was bit disappointed in the Spa. It while it was clean, it lacked that tranquil and luxurious feeling I would expect from a day spa. Partially this had to do with noise level – it seemed like the room next door was an employee area, but there was no sufficient noise proofing between the two spaces. Partially, too, the amenities did not match my experiences off-property – there were no snacks, no water bottles and the tea was on offer was to be drunk from styrofoam park cups. More important to me than these offerings however, was the overall ambiance of the room – it is ripe for a freshening, for it felt less luxurious spa and more institutional waiting room.

Although my expectations thus sank a bit while I was waiting for my first appointment, I am pleased to say these lowered expectation could not have been more wrong! My treatments began with my massage and both the room and the massage therapist blew away expectations! The room wasn’t overly small – which can sometimes be a problem if you strongly dislike closed in spaces – and it was extremely comfortable.

More important to the experience than the room, though, was the sunny disposition and magic fingers of Nichole, my massage therapist. (By the way, I told each of the women who worked with me that I was blogging this experience, and I let them decide if I would photograph and /or name them in this description.) Now I’ve gotten a lot of massages in my time, and this one ranked among the best. Equally as important, Nichole new how to establish a relaxing rapport and had a great tableside manner. Thanks, Nichole!

My other services met or exceeded expectation as well. The aesthetician gave me a relaxing facial with little sales pitch involved. Such low-key affect is much appreciated when your face is covered in warm cloths and goo. And Carla, the women who did my mani/pedi was FANTASTIC as were all the women working in the nail room. They were personable, cheerful and very very good their jobs. The nail room itself, though, like the salon, seemed a bit cramped and stark for a high-end spa. Even a few plants and a paint job would glam things up – and match this environment to expertise of these awesome women! I’m not sure I’d get another manicure here – but that’s because the chlorine in pool water dried out my nails so much that they all broke off over the next week. They were adorable, however, when I left that salon.


Will I go back? I will certainly return for a massage (HEAVENLY after a few days in the park) and for a pedicure (love those nail technicians!). I am less likely to return for a facial, for I think I’ve gotten more thorough work done by aestheticians with whom I have an ongoing-client relationship. Which makes sense – they’ve gotten to know both you and your skin. But for a rejuvenating half day away from the park, I heartily recommend the Spa at Saratoga Springs!

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Posted on February 22, 2012

9 Responses to “A Day at the Spa at Saratoga Springs”

  • As a DVC member I have used the Spa at Saratoga a few times. What I would add is the workout area is great and I always arrive at least an hour before my spa appointment to work out. This workout area is a lot better than any of the fitness rooms at other resorts. There are plenty of cardio machines, but also weights and areas for yoga/ pilates type activities. Also, I have gotten massages at other resorts on property- but Saratoga definitely is the most “spa”-like atmosphere on property even if it is a little louder than most day spas. I find it to be a great way to relax on a vacation that usually offers little in the true relaxation area!

  • Thanks, Nicole — in the future when NOT staying at Saratoga Springs, I can see myself using a trip to the Spa to spend the day over there — work out, message, lunch at the Turf Club and have a little wander around one of my home resorts :-)

  • My wife and I went to Saratoga Springs for our Couples Massage on our honeymoon. The couples massage had the normal table massage and a water massage (in a sit down tub). I did the table first while my wife did the tub. It was incredible. I then did the tub, which I was not a fan of. Because of the way you were sitting, and your body’s tendency to shift in the water, you need to brace yourself in a way that tenses you up. So therefore, I feel (and commented to my wife as we left) the tub more or less canceled out the table massage. She, however, did the table second and left completely relaxed.

    I would definitely go back, but skip the tub.

  • by Bookish Belle on February 23, 2012, at 6:59 am EDT

    Wow, Brian — that water massage sound complicated :-)

  • I went to the spa on my trip in December. I’ve been to a few other spas in my day. I thought the waiting room was a bit lacking compared to other similar types of spas. But otherwise it was a great spa. I had a massage, facial and a wrap, they were all done very well and professionally, I would definatly go back there. The therapists there seemed to be able to read if a client wanted to talk or not – my friend and I had the same therapist for different treatments and she picked up on our personalities.

  • Funny you mention the grammatical error of the signs in the spa when you made a bunch of them yourself in this post! – “Nichole ‘new’ how to establish a relaxing rapport”…”It while it was clean”…

    • Yeah, someone really should go in and fix these for her since she brought it up. “There are DVC discounts available on other packages to[o]” is another one.

      That being said, I never seem to make time on my trips to do these things (we are parks, parks, and more parks people) and I really should. Thanks for the post!

      • by Bookish Belle on February 23, 2012, at 6:49 pm EDT

        Yes, it was to my chagrin that I realized I had somehow sent the penultimate draft, and I don’t have any way of editing — lucky I used a pen name, I guess. At least I offered the exquisite pleasure of correcting someone else’s errors!

        That being said, unlike the offerings in spa, this post is ephemeral, low stakes, and offered free of charge strictly for the reader’s amusement. Unlike the bags and t-shirts at Nikki Bryant.