Thankful Thursday: Planet Beach Spa Review

There's a huge outdoor mall on the other side of Knoxville called Turkey Creek. There's no creek there (that I know of), but there are probably forty different boutiques, department stores, restaurants, theaters, and more. It's a great place to spend a day alone or as a family - window shopping, actual shopping, or even just wandering around taking in the sights. You could even drive to the end and park your car, then walk up and down from store to store if the weather is nice.

The thing is, in my daily life, I don't often have the opportunity to do more than a lot of boring grocery shopping, squeezed in between therapy for me and countless various doctor's appointments for the kids - but my favorite thing about this particular area is the huge Christmas tree they put up and light every holiday season. It's completely giant and utterly beautiful and you can see it from the nearby interstate as you drive by. So of course, a few weeks ago, the girls and I headed to Turkey Creek for the lighting of the Christmas Tree in the Pinnacle Plaza of Turkey Creek, and as part of the presented activities, Josephine and I both entered to win a drawing for three free services for one person AND a friend at Planet Beach Spa.

And Joey won!

But as exciting as that was, that was actually where the problems began (for me). I'm a single mom with not one, but TWO girls. I'm also super protective of my kids, and I am not the kind of mom who regularly drops her kids off places to go and do things on their own - especially places where they might be expected to take off their clothes. It was guaranteed from the get-go that my 13 year old daughter's plus-one would be me. But what to do with Eden, who would likely have hurt feelings and experience a little envy?

I did some thinking and quickly came up with the idea of scheduling spa day with Joey on a school day, when I could send Eden to school as usual and then surprise Jo with a sneaky school-skip with me. I explained the plan and my reasoning behind it - and that's where Planet Beach turned up the awesomeness to extend Joey's plus-one to a plus-two.

Cue the happy Mom heart. A spa day for Team Kennedy as a whole? Free? And I can blog it? Yes, please.

So instead of going on a school day, we got up early and headed to the spa on a beautiful Saturday morning; I was eagerly anticipating surprising the girls, and they were (as always) excitedly trying to figure out the surprise.

Eden's young, so she wasn't allowed to do any treatments by herself (we learned later that the corporate-approved age for spa treatments is 14+ - oops) - so she and I chose to go into the "Saunatox" machine together for our first treatment while Josephine went alone (and somewhat uncomfortably naked) to the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber (which totally looks like a space pod). In the sauna, Eden wrapped up in a little robe and I got cozy in a towel wrap (you're supposed to wear a sauna suit but that would have been terribly immodest since the disposable suit is totally see-through, plus Eden could never hope to be big enough for one), and we took seats together on the little bench in our heat chamber.

It was peaceful and quiet and deliciously warm, and then Eden said, with the smallest hint of worry in her little voice, "Mom?"

"Yeah?" I said, barely above a whisper.

"I'm getting sweaty," she said.

"I know," I answered. "That's the idea."

"No. Like A LOT sweaty."

I laughed and reminded her that it was okay because she was supposed to sweat a lot. We talked about skin as a filter for the body, talked about how a good sweat helps the skin do its job better. I even reminded her of our (distant) Native American ancestors, and how sweat lodges were - and still are in many places - a part of the health culture for "our people."

"Oh," she said. "So I'm just supposed to sit here and sweat a puddle? And that's relaxing?"

"I think it is," I laughed. Our session was set for an hour, and we still had about 40 minutes left. Hoping she would settle, I reminded her that we were alone in the room the Saunatox chamber was in, and that at any time if she wanted to get out of the heat, she could get out, get dried off, and get dressed while I finished the session. She promised that if she got out she'd be quiet and read her book - and when she left me with just under fifteen minutes to go, she kept her promise, allowing me to rest quietly in the sunny warmth of the infrared light.


Shown above, from left to right: the SaunaTox Eden and I did, the info sheet for the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber Joey did, and then a peek inside the chamber from up at the head (looking down along the body-length of the pod).

Following the SaunaTox, Team Kennedy reunited in a cozy little area equipped with three automated massage stations: the Jade Fuzion bed, the Yu Me Massage chair, and the DreamWave Massage chair.

 Shown above, from left to right: the Jade Fuzion, the Yu Me Massage, and the DreamWave Massage. Clicking the photos should enlarge them - check out all the benefits of each treatment!

Eden took the Jade Fuzion (because her body was too small to fit either of the chairs right), which was just a heated jade bed. She rested there a while, reading, while I groaned like a helpless (but very happy) fool in the Yu Me chair - it's got a mean shiatsu massage mode, which was the epitome of those sorts of things we like to describe as "hurts real good," and then it had an amazing stretch mode that did a great job of soothing and relaxing my entire body while still managing to contort my muscles and stretch out my tensions. Beside me, Joey laid quietly, alternating between smug contentment and excited gushing about how much she had loved the Hydro-Derma Fusion.

Let me tell you guys - for a first spa experience (yes, that was a total first for me), Planet Beach was AMAZING. Over the next week, I went back twice (alone though, and while the girls were at school, because even though the kids couldn't come they still let me come back for two more days to try almost everything), and let me tell you, that place is like heaven for a stressed out mom like me. I savored every moment too, knowing that those three days of special treatment would soon end and I'd be back to life as usual. The only things I wanted to try that I ended up missing out on were the HotWorx Hot Yoga and Hot Zen programs - and honestly, if my financial situation looked just slightly different, I'd probably be writing this blog post from inside the sauna. I'm not even kidding.

The sad thing (for me) is that it's really not even that expensive - Planet Beach is a franchise, so prices vary from location to location, but at my local spot, it's only $60 a month for unlimited services (with one caveat: you can only do one "hot" treatment per day). The best thing about the Gold Membership though (the $60 one) is that you can bring a friend with you as often as you want too, for free. And as if that wasn't enough, you also get rewards and discounts for bringing in new clientele! I seriously can't even tell you guys how heartbroken I am that this isn't something that would fit into my budget, because I would have been signing those papers in blood if necessary.

I also like that there's a month-to-month price too, for people who want the unlimited treatments but don't want the commitment of a membership contract - for just $70 a month, you can go in as often as you want to and take advantage of being able to kick back and do something special just for yourself. And again, this isn't something that fits into my budget (yet), but when it does, this is likely the option I would go for. Commitment free relaxation and self-spoiling? Uh, yes please.

What's cool though, is that if you can't (or don't want to) sign up for memberships at all, you can actually set an appointment and pay service-by-service for $40 - which is admittedly more expensive, but I  still like that it comes with no commitment, which means that until I can squeeze that monthly $70 out of my budget, I can still go when I can afford to go, and totally skip it when I can't. But the best part is that Planet Beach is a franchise business with locations all over the place (even international!) - which means that even if you aren't in the Knoxville area, you might still have one close enough to you to visit!

In the meantime, here's the breakdown of things I got to try - in order of what I liked best.
  1. SaunaTox - I loved the way the saunatox made me completely fall in love with warmth as a sensation. I don't usually like to be hot, I don't like to be sweaty, and I don't like the way sometimes it's hard to breathe in a normal sauna. But SaunaTox is no normal sauna. It was truly amazing.
  2. Hydro-Derma Fusion - I tried this on my second day, and this was like having my entire body encased in the most deliciously hot, steamy, vibrating shower. My skin felt amazing afterward, and I felt energized and rejuvenated. I also liked that you do this one nude, so there's no uncomfortable suit or anything else required. It was also nice that there was a fan on my face; it kept the steam away and helped keep me from being too hot. My chief complaint with this was that it lasted about a half-hour, and I could easily have laid there for days, steaming gently and sleeping peacefully.
  3. Yu Me Massage - As mentioned above, this chair had a great shiatsu massage that worked really well for the tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck, and I also liked the way it worked the tension out of my legs while leaving my hands free. I did this one on the first and third days of my sessions at Planet Beach, and I liked it so much that I chose it on that third day even knowing that it meant I wouldn't have time to try the Jade Fuzion.
  4. The Slim Capsule - I actually liked how hot this one was, and that the vibration of the table was a little stronger than with the Hydro-Derma Fusion; what I didn't like was the sauna-suit you're supposed to wear. It was terribly uncomfortable for me - it fit fine even with my being plus-sized, but was much too long in the legs and then it was so much too short in the body and arms that it didn't come all the way up to my shoulders. It really took away from what would otherwise probably have been #2 on this list.
  5. DreamWave Massage - I did this on my second day (after the Hydro-Derma Fusion), and while I liked it (it was a little less strong on my tender sciatic area), I didn't like it as much as the Yu Me. It wasn't as strong and didn't have the awesome stretching mode - but I did love that it did my arms, hands, and feet (the Yu Me didn't), which was wonderful.
  6. The Red Light Bed - I liked that this was warm even though I wasn't crazy about being terrified that the eye protection I purchased somehow wouldn't be protective enough (or would slip) and I would end up relaxed with great skin but totally blind.
  7. The Red Light Facial - This one I wasn't crazy about either; it was fine for the most part, but I actually thought it was a little boring. My face skin did feel pretty amazing though, and the sweetheart who attended me during my sessions assured me that the benefit of the red light facial is meant to be cumulative.
As mentioned above, I didn't get to try the HotWorx Hot Yoga or the Hot Zen - I suspect if I had had the chance to try those, my list would look a little different, especially since the HotWorx uses the same infrared heat as the SaunaTox. I think missing out on the HotWorx sauna is probably the biggest part of what makes me so sad that I can't currently sign up for a Planet Beach membership.

So if you do, make sure you come back and tell me all about it, 'kay? Because I need to live vicariously.

If you liked this post or if you've ever tried anything like Planet Beach Automated Spa, take a second to drop a comment below and let me know what spa services are your favorites! I'd love for you to share this post too, especially if you know someone who might benefit from a visit to the spa (pssst - you can actually get a first-time pass for free), or needs to take some time to do something for themselves. But before you go, take a second to subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's a great way to make sure you never miss a post!

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