A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

The Grand Floridian Senses Spa & a Sports Massage

on March 13, 2014

When we were planning our vacation around the Princess Half Marathon, we decided that the best plan would be to visit the parks and really vacation at Disney AFTER the half marathon, rather than running my first half marathon on legs already tired from a week at Disney World. For the best half marathon experience, I think that was definitely the best approach. Our other concern, though, was having a good vacation experience as well. This was going to be our one big vacation of the year and at 2.5 years old, O was definitely going to be much more active and involved in this week at the parks than he was last time we brought him. I didn’t want to be a sore and hobbling mama holding my boys back from (expensive!) adventures in Disney World. I wanted to be sure I
was able to enjoy the vacation we’d spent so much time and money on. To help achieve this, we decided to schedule a sports massage at the Grand Floridian Senses Spa on Monday morning.

I spent a little time reading about the optimal timing for massage after a big running event and the consensus seemed to be that a brief massage immediately after the event or a more intense sports massage 24-48 hours after the event (although there were lots and lots of conflicting opinions, so who knows what is really best!). Earlier than 24 hours, many people experience more pain as a result of the massage because your muscles are too early in the recovery process (inflammation, metabolic byproducts still present) and further physical manipulation is uncomfortable. The other important piece of advice I took to heart was finding a massage therapist that was experienced in dealing with massage in athletes, rather than a massage for overall relaxation (not that those aren’t lovely too!). Thus, I decided to spend Sunday after the half marathon walking around and hydrating to help my muscles recover and then go for the massage Monday morning.

I’ve used the Senses Spa on the Disney Dream, but this was my first experience with one of the spas on Disney property itself. I chose the Grand Floridian because I could easily walk to the spa from the Polynesian. The cost for the massage at Disney was definitely more than I would have paid at home for the same service ($174 including 20% tip for 50 minute sports massage), but I was expecting that based on the costs of the spa services on the cruise and because it’s Disney – I’m used to paying a premium for their products.


The Grand Floridian Senses Spa is not in the main Grand Floridian building. Rather, it is in a small white building off to the side near the wedding pavilion. This building also houses the small workout room shared by the Polynesian and Grand Floridian (that room has a separate entrance). Upon entering, the staff was very welcoming and the check in process was very smooth. I didn’t have to complete a medical history form like I have for other massages, but I may have filled something out online at the time I booked the treatment that I’m forgetting? I was able to pay with my Magic Band and was quickly whisked back to the locker room. There was a 20% tip already added to my bill at the time I paid and signed before the procedure. I assume you could adjust that after the treatment if you needed to, but I didn’t attempt that. The building was very quiet, with low lighting and soothing decor. According to the survey I received after the spa visit, the Senses approach is to provide total relaxation, beyond just the service you are paying for. This wasn’t articulated by the staff handling my check in or my therapist, but I could definitely see that they put a lot of effort into creating a soothing environment.

Very soothing colors and lighting

Very soothing colors and lighting

You are given a locker, stocked with a robe and slippers. The lockers allow you to set a combination, similar to a room safe, so that you can leave your belongings safely in the locker while receiving your treatments. There is a small waiting area, with lounges, privacy curtains, water, tea and a few snacks. I loved the cucumber/basil water. The massage therapist very quickly came to get me and bring me back to the treatment room. The treatment rooms were very nicely appointed, but similar to every other massage room I’ve entered. The therapist asked me about any particular areas of concern that I had (in my case, my shoulders from hauling around a 2.5 year old and my legs after the half marathon).

It was neater than that before I thought to take a picture!

It was neater than that before I thought to take a picture!

The massage itself was very thorough and I appreciated the time spent moving my extremities through their range of motion to isolate specific muscles as she worked. The majority of her time was spent working on my shoulders, with surprisingly little time spent on my legs. I’m not sure if this was because of the tightness she could feel in my shoulders, more than my legs or if she just ran out of time. She did seem very concerned about my shoulders though and actually gave me a sample of biofreeze on the way out to use on my shoulders throughout the week if I needed it.

Upon exiting, I was also given a small jelly candy that was supposed to be an antioxidant supplement to help with muscle recovery as well. I’m not sure how much I believe that, but it was tasty. 🙂 You are then returned to the locker room and lounge area, where there were showers as well as grooming supplies (including moisturizer, lotions, hair products, hair dryers, brushes, etc). There is also a steam room and hot tub that you can use, although I skipped those to go catch up with my boys in the Magic Kingdom.

One thing that I did appreciate about this experience, as opposed to the Senses spa on the Disney Dream, is that there was no sales attempt for any products following my treatment. Overall, this was a relaxing morning but I am not sure how much it helped in my overall recovery. I was certainly able to walk around a lot following the half marathon with essentially no pain or fatigue – well, no fatigue beyond what we usually experience during a week traipsing through the parks! I think that my good experience in the week post-half marathon has more to do with my training and the stretching and walking I did on Sunday immediately post-race more so than the massage, but I would definitely recommend checking out the spa at the Grand Floridian if you’re just looking to splurge on a little pampering and relaxation time.

A couple of helpful articles from Runners World on the role of massage in running:

Does Massage Work? Sweat Science

Benefits of Massage for Runners

Also check out the April edition of Runner’s World as it has a great article the reviews all of the evidence supporting massage for runners (as well as some great articles about running and weight loss).



7 responses to “The Grand Floridian Senses Spa & a Sports Massage

  1. Kristin says:

    I love this and great articles!!!

  2. Well this sounds incredible. I have actually never tried a sports massage before, but I would love to! Where better to try it out than Disney, right?! That spa looks so nice and relaxing :0)

    • It was really nice! I think I’ll be trying out other services next time I’m there. I wish I’d allowed myself more time to luxuriate in the extras, but I felt like I had to get back to my boys since it was our first real vacation day. The treatment I got on the cruise was fantastic too. It was a body wrap and possibly the most relaxing hour of my life.

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 7:50 AM, A Little More Each Day wrote:


  3. Looks like a really nice SPA, and a massage sounds so good after a race.

    • It was nice. I’m a little envious of people who work massages into their regular running routine. I can see where that would be even more helpful.

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM, A Little More Each Day wrote:


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