How to Write for the Spa Industry and Get Treated Like Royalty

Soaking in a chardonnay bath... gazing out over a waterfall while getting a hot stone massage... finding a lavish gift basket back in your hotel suite... and not paying a single dime... does it get any better than that?

The Right Way to Travel reader Carolyn Hamilton is used to getting treated like a queen wherever she goes, in exchange for sharing her thoughts on the experience with magazines and newspapers.

And, because she knows the right questions to ask when she's on assignment, she often ends up with even more "royal treatment" than she expected.

Today, Carolyn tells us how she scores these kinds of spa treatments on a regular basis... and reveals a magic question you should ask to multiply your spa and luxury travel perks.

By Carolyn Hamilton in Seattle, Washington

From the hot rock massage bed, I gaze out over a spectacular waterfall. Afterward, the masseuse gifts me with the round black stones because I’m writing a feature article.

More soothing than the heated river rock massage was the fact that I wasn’t being charged for it.

Staying in a historic inn set on a country estate in the heart of California’s wine country. Relaxing in a Red Wine Grape Seed Bath in the indoor hydrotherapy tub while gazing at a glowing fire in the fireplace. Soaking in a Chardonnay bath in the outdoor teak wine tub.

How did I get to enjoy such luxury for free?

For years I was a graphic designer. I learned early on how to trade my skills for goods and services.

I had my own business. This combination of creativity and business skills led to the chance to become Managing Editor of a new regional woman’s magazine.

A few years later, I signed on with an Internet travel magazine, where I don’t get paid for the assignments... but I calculate that I’ve received over $12,000 worth of perks from them.

I keep track of my writing time and what the normal cost of each perk would be, so I know what I’ve “made” per hour. The lowest is $28, but usually it’s much more.

Before I visit a luxury hotel, I ask, “Will you want me to cover the spa and restaurant as well?” This invariably leads to complimentary dinner and massage, so I can write about the experience.

A lavish treat basket from the general manager awaits me in my suite. I’m treated like a queen at these places.

As a travel writer, I’ve taken a Parisian cooking class, attended the 25th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival, and enjoyed B&Bs and luxury hotels worldwide.

My favorite luxury travel and spa writing perk was when my husband and I spent a week floating French canals on a 12-passenger barge -- entirely free of charge. We enjoyed two different wines and cheeses with every lunch and dinner. We were treated to excursions into the French countryside to a foie gras farm, a castle where the Crusades began, an old Roman encampment, and a wine cave that hid planes in World War II. We bicycled along the canal roads and returned to soak in the barge’s hot tub.

That same week I had an opportunity to visit a southern California celebrity spa. I passed that assignment on to a writer friend. Can’t be everywhere at once!

All in all, I love visiting luxury locations, being treated like a queen and not paying for it.

It’s always easier to get there if you have a road map... an expert can make it a lot easier to get started. But I’m here to say that even if all you’ve ever written are Christmas letters to family and friends, you can do this.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]