NOTE: Exciting competition at the end of this blog!

“If I was a woman, maybe I’d go, but I’m not!”

“I haven’t been; it’s for women to go and gossip”

“That’s for women to go and get their girly things done, I don’t need that”

I’ll give you a few clues to try and figure out what these quotes refer to: It’s three letters long, starts with an S, ends with an A, and it’s not Sma (mainly because that’s not a word :-)). But you’re right, Spa, that’s what these quotes are about…and they were taken straight from the mouths of men, when they were faced with the question “Have you ever been to a Spa?” For fear you think I’m making this up, these men were my friends, and please also note that these men were Irish!

There has been a long lived rumour circulating our society: “Spas are for women”. I bet you’ve heard it too! But why is that? Surely being pampered is something we all enjoy. Why wouldn’t men love getting massages, for example, as much as women do? They feel amazing! If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, I bet you’ve heard your boyfriend/husband/brother/friend cheekily ask you: “Can I have a foot rub?”. And if you’re a man and you’re reading this, I bet you’ve at least thought about asking for one. And why wouldn’t you? Taking this into consideration, I’ve taken it upon myself to investigate the “Spas are for women” myth further in order to determine: Is it fact or fiction?

I figured the best way to go about investigating this issue was by performing two simple tasks (well, maybe simple is the wrong word, but two tasks anyway!): (1) trying to get inside men’s heads to try and understand how they view this myth (here’s the not so simple part of the tasks, although yes, it may be slightly easier than getting inside women’s heads), and (2) carrying out a little experiment.

Task 1: Getting inside men’s heads
As I posed the same “Have you ever been to a Spa?” question to a number of different men, a pattern clearly emerged. I’m sure you’ll see it too:

“No…but I’d go if it was a “fix” me situation”

“No…but well, if I got a present of it I’d obviously have to go”

“No…but if my girlfriend made me go I’d have to go I guess”

For every “No I haven’t been” answer there seems to be a counteracting “But I’d go if I was “forced” to go” excuse. So here is my theory: the issue isn’t that men don’t like going or don’t want to go to spas, but rather, that they may need an excuse to do it! Spas are seen by the majority of people, as girly, feminine places. Maybe it’s the scented candles, and warm fuzzy robes. Maybe it’s the simple word Spa that acts as a synonym for beauty: something that only women should be concerned about (or at least that’s how most of us think anyway). Women want to be beautiful, men don’t. But I beg to differ. I think both women and men want to be beautiful; but where as women actively try to feel beautiful, men don’t. Not because they don’t want to, but because it wouldn’t fit their manly image, especially when we think about the unmerciful peer pressure these men feel from their friends to act in a certain “manly manner”. As the quotes above suggest, the only way men can accept the need or want to feel pampered and “beautiful” at a Spa is by transforming it into a “I had no choice but to do it” scenario.

Task 2: A little experiment

Ok so, onto my little experiment! The quotes that opened this blog got me thinking about the misconceptions that men have about Spas. Words like “gossip” and “girly things” set immediate alarm bells off in my head. Is it that men think that going to a Spa involves women going for nail and waxing treatments, as they sit around drinking tea and chatting about the fact that Britney Spears has finally signed her US X Factor contract? Don’t get me wrong, obviously women do love having those chats (I know I’m guilty of starting many of them!), but a Spa isn’t generally the setting for these kind of chats. A Spa is where people go to be pampered, and feel relaxed. It isn’t a social setting per se, saturated with nail and waxing treatments. It’s so much more than that. If anything, it’s the one place that allows you to go to be “selfish”, and simply focus on you, and your wellbeing; not so much to gossip.

To show that men might indeed appreciate a visit to a Spa if it weren’t for the misconceptions they have, I undertook the following experiment: I told men about a Spa treatment, without referring to it as a Spa treatment, and noted their reactions. If their reactions were positive, my theory would be proven, that is, leave the word Spa out, and men are instantly more attracted to the idea. The chosen treatment: Floating experience! This Spa treatment involves lying in a floatation tank filled with a salt solution so dense that allows you to float weightlessly, with no effort.

So here is how I put the treatment to my male interviewees:

“Have you ever heard of the Dead Sea? Where you can go to kick back and relax: floating on the sea water, feeling weightless…”

The reactions, as you can imagine, were pretty upbeat:

“I’ve always wanted to go there…Imagine floating like that on the water!”

“Someday I’ll go there! It must be something else to just be able to lay back and float, no worries, just happy out, floating in the sea!”

As I wrote down their answers I felt a sneaky and rewarding thought enter my head “Ha, I was right”! Technically speaking, it can be argued that these men would indeed like to experience this “floatation” Spa treatment (and this is only one of many treatments available at a Spa that don’t involve waxing or nails). Yet, if you asked these same men to go to a Spa, they would reply “no”! So it appears that, for the moment, my theory has been confirmed: the word Spa alone blurs men’s views.

So what can we take from all this? Well, I’m happy to say that the “Spas are for women” myth seems to be fiction! The issue isn’t that Spas are for women, but rather that: (1) men are loyal to their manly facade, and (2) men have strong misconceptions about Spas. Once you remove these two factors from the equation, however, it seems that men would appreciate what a Spa has to offer just as much as women do. But a key question remains: “how exactly do we remove these factors from the equation?” This question has prompted me to undertake an additional task!

Bonus Task: Competition – Prize worth €125!
To help me find the answer,Fota Island Spa Hotel Cork has come up with a brilliant competition: I’m looking for you to nominate a man to be put to the test by experiencing a complementary Half Day Package at Fota Island Spa, and telling us about his experience!

To be in with a chance to win this fantastic prize for your nominee, all you have to do is email me directly on ACOliveira@fotaisland.ie, and tell me why I should pick your nominee to win, his first name, age, and the days of the week that he would be available for a Spa treatment. The worthiest nominee will be the winner! Competition closes on Friday, 25th May. I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing how our winning nominee gets on :-).

Thank you for reading, and as always feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions,