Independent Traveler
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If you are a family traveler, chances are you don’t take spa vacations too often. More likely, you try to squeeze in a quick facial or massage at the hotel spa during your hectic family getaway, all the while feeling guilty for leaving the little ones behind. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take them with you for a little pampering of their own? Thanks to a growing trend among hotel spas, now you can. Pared-down treatments for children of all ages are popping up across the country – fruity facials, parent-and-child mini-massages and fun painted fingernails are perfect for kids who want the spa experience and great for parents who want some quiet quality time with their loved ones.

We’ve picked four spas that are perfect for families looking to put relaxation back into their vacations. Besides youth spa programs, there are a plethora of activities on site or nearby for adults and kids alike – after all, you can’t spend your whole trip in the spa. Or can you?

Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina
The luxury spa at Pinehurst Resort may just be an afterthought for all the avid golfers who flock here for the abundance of impeccable courses, but chances are it will be the highlight of your child’s vacation. The Spa at Pinehurst opened its KidSpa and YouthSpa last year in response to the growing demand for its “kid-friendly” services. The KidSpa caters to 6- to 11-year-olds and offers, among other things, a 20-minute back and shoulder massage, Twinkle Toes pedicures and Fancy Fingers manicures. Kids age 12 to 16 will love the Total Teen Facial with take-home “prescription” for healthy skin or a makeup application lesson. Are all these treatments sounding a little too girly? For boys, Teen Tune-Up is a fitness training session that introduces teenage boys to weights, cardiovascular care and other basic workout techniques.

See what our members are saying about Pinehurst, North Carolina

Carnival Cruise Lines
The kids’ spa on Carnival, Generation Y, is a perfect place for your teen or ‘tween to escape the stresses of the teenage years, at least for a short time. The treatments are similar to the standards but with a fun twist -- for example, the fabulous fruity or acne attack facials. Massages are shortened to 25 minutes for the kids and there are even parent-child treatments for a little side-by-side quality time. The “Y” spa ensures your older child won’t feel left out while the little ones are busy all day long with Camp Carnival activities.

Tip: There are often significant discounts for treatments booked on port days.

The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Independent Traveler
The hardest thing about being a teen is being caught between child- and adulthood. In Hershey, your teen can play as a kid on the rides and attractions at HersheyPark and play grown up in the Chocolate Spa of the Hotel Hershey. If you or your teen is a true chocoholic, a 25-minute chocolate milk whipped cocoa bath should satisfy your sweet tooth and soothe your skin. The Chocolate Spa has many other chocolate-themed treatments as well as a selection of services aimed at teens that focus on facial cleansing, makeup instruction and nail care.

See what our members are saying about Hershey, Pennsylvania

Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin, Texas
For a big city with small-town charm, head to Austin, home of the annual South by Southwest music festival, of course, but also to a wealth of year-round attractions. The Barton Creek Resort and Spa takes its Texas location and runs with it in its teen and kids’ spa – treatments with names like Deep in the Heart of Texas Facial and the Mother and Daughter Two-Step Massage are a fun twist on the standard spa offerings. If your child or teen is new to the spa, try the Bluebonnet Bliss Chair Massage – a chair massage that focuses on the neck, back, and arms and is given fully clothed. Even kids who are used to pampering won’t be able to resist the Hill Country Sampler – a 25-minute massage, Texas teen facial and a makeup application.

See what our members are saying about Austin, Texas

Some tips for taking the kids:
If you love the idea of taking your kids to a spa but are a little uneasy about leaving them alone in a room with a stranger, request to supervise the treatment or, better yet, get one at the same time. Many spas that offer child- and teenage-focused options (in particular, massage) mandate that treatments be given only to a fully clothed child.

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Request a thorough consultation before any spa treatment. If your child knows what to expect it will help eliminate any uneasiness.

Remember, just because you love the spa doesn’t mean your kid will too – start slow and ask for their feedback. If it isn’t something they enjoy, chances are a hotel that has a kids' spa also has a kids club or some other kind of activity program they can participate in while you enjoy the spa.

Photo of Spa at Pinehurst Resort courtesy of Pinehurst Resort.

The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler's exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel. You can access our wealth of travel resources and great bargains here at www.independenttraveler.com, or at www.bargainbox.com.

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