The New York Times broke the huge news story recently that deluxe hotels are now offering half hour massages and other spa services that are traditionally an hour or an hour and a half. The significance of this is that the new “quick spa” might appeal to people who just don’t have as much extra money lying around as they used to, and at the same time the hotels will get some money instead of just having those spas being expensive, empty rooms that smell like Ben Gay.
So, for the hotels, some money is better than no money at all, and for the customers, a little bit of luxury is better than no luxury at all. I’m not exactly sure how they do the half massage. Perhaps all they do is massage your left side, and the next time you come to the hotel, you can get your right side massaged.
I won’t be surprised if other services in fancy hotels follow suit. If golf has become too expensive for some guests, for half the usual fee they’ll be able play 4 1/2 holes. You know that room with two queen beds that you get sometimes when you’re traveling alone? Now that extra bed could have another guest in it who’s also traveling alone. You better grab the TV remote right when you walk into the room. If you’re staying on the 20th floor of a hotel, for half the usual tip, the bellman will bring your bags up to the 10th floor. If you want to stay in a bed and breakfast, you get a choice: bed or breakfast.
Hotels aren’t the only service industry. The airlines have cut back on all kinds of services, but they’ve never been too proud to make further cuts. I’m a little bit worried that in the spirit of “half-off,” if a flight is going from Los Angeles to New York, they might make you parachute out of the plane when you’re over Depew, Okla.
Personal grooming is a service that many of us use. I don’t think that half of a manicure or pedicure would be that terrible, but I’m not looking forward to seeing people with half of a haircut. And how weird will it be when some of those Montana Avenue ladies apply the one-half approach to breast implants?
The prime motive behind this “shorter is better” philosophy might have to do with money, but New York’s Four Seasons Spa Director Natalie Matesic pointed to another reason for this development. She feels in this era of limited attention span, of fast forwarding through movies, of speed dating, it’s “only natural” that people would want shorter spa sessions. She said, “You don’t have to look any further than electronic media to understand that people spend less time on basic activities like communicating and getting the news. The spa industry is no exception.”
It’s disturbing that this phenomenon of today’s culture in which people can’t stay still to do things thoroughly has spilled over to the world of relaxation. They want to have shorter massages, because they’re afraid of missing out on something. Their attitude is, “I have to hurry up and relax.”
Perhaps they would be able to relax more during the massage if they multi-tasked while someone works on those knots in their necks. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if people were texting at the same time that they’re supposed to be having a relaxing massage. Of course, I can’t be sure that this kind of multitasking goes on. I only read half the article.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.