There are a number of factors to consider when chosing a spa to visit. How to prepare to make the most of it is actually quite simple once you know the basics and a few tips can help you have the best experience possible, no matter what kind of spa you have decided on. The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions about spas from those who have never been and no matter what kind of spa you plan to visit, these questions can help you have the best experience possible even if you are a spa going veteran.
- Book you appointment as far in advance as possible. This will insure that you have the widest selection of treatments available and a flexible schedule so that you can plan for other events throughout the rest of your stay or day. Keep in mind that a morning or midday massage or body treatment can be planned to give you a stimulating start to a mentally or physically challenging day and that an evening or afternoon treatment can help you wind down and prepare for a restful nights sleep. You will also need to consider the choice of a male or female therapist. Many spas will ask if you have a preference, and if you do you should say so. It is not always possible to change therapists at the time of the appointment so you need to state your preference in the beginning. Having a preference for a male or female therapist is never looked down on so don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.
- Is there a standard cancellation policy? Generally, spas will ask that you reserve your appointments with a credit card and most spas engage in good business practices by stating their policy to you verbatim when you book appointments. Asking questions is never frowned upon. Cancellation policies vary, so you will want to be certain that you choose a spa whose policy on cancellations you can live with in the event of something unexpected.
- What time should I arrive at the Spa? Once you are familiar with the process, sometimes 15 minutes is enough but if you’re new to the process, I recommend no less than 30 minutes ahead of time to make the most of it. If you are going to be visiting a large Resort or Destination Spa, keep in mind that part of the process involved is the experience as a whole, so you should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance to change into your robe, put your clothes and other items away in the locker room, take a shower if necessary and visit the steam or sauna. If you are seeking relaxation as your primary goal, you may want to arrive at least one hour in advance so as not to feel rushed.
- What should I wear? Comfortable loose-fitting clothes are best. It is possible that oils or creams may come in contact with your clothing so keep that in mind when choosing an outfit. You may also want to limit the amount of jewelry you wear as you will need to remove it for the treatment. Many spas have locker rooms for your personal items and it is up to your discretion if you are comfortable leaving your items there for safekeeping. However, lost items are not the spas responsibility so you may wish to leave at home your great grandmothers engagement ring and brooch so that it is not lost or misplaced during your stay. You may also wish to bring a bathing suit if you are uncomfortable with the idea of being nude in a sauna or steamroom with others, if you plan to swim or use the hot tubs and if you plan on having a Vichy shower. Disposable spa undergarments or towels are provided for Vichy treatments but many prefer to bring their own swimwear instead.
- Will I need to disrobe? Modesty is always respected at any Spa. Most treatments are more completely enjoyed with some degree of nudity however. Keep in mind, that at all times, your body will be draped and covered to respect the therapist and technicians modesty as well as your own.
- What about gratuities and tipping? Many spas include a gratuity in the total price of the service but this is not a standard practice in all spas. It is most common when booking a spa package, rather than choosing services ala carte. If going to a day spa rather than a resort or destination spa assume that gratuities are not included and even then, ask the front desk for clarification when checking in or out. If a gratuity is included automatically you will be informed when booking and possibly offered the option to include a gratuity automatically. If not informed otherwise, the common courtesy is to tip between 15 and 20 percent of the original price of each service or treatment you receive. While tipping is not required it is appreciated and a common custom to let your therapist or technician know that they exceeded your expectations.
- What are my responsibilities as a guest? You will need to make your therapist or technician aware of any medical conditions or medications you are taking to ensure you receive the best possible treatment. If you have any special requests, are pregnant, or nursing, these are also issues you should notify the staff about. This information is strictly confidential and will only be used to make sure you are comfortable and secure throughout your spa experience. You technicians and therapist should ask you questions about the amount of pressure they use in a massage or if the water is too hot or too cold for example and you should feel free to communicate with them honestly about these questions as they have a direct bearing on your treatment and the experience your paying for. Also, you will need to turn off or put away your cell phone while you are in the spa to ensure that you and other guests are not distracted curing your treatment or while experiencing the spa.
- Does the Spa provide lunch? Most Resort or Destination Spas do have restaurants on site that provide spa cuisine and often meals are included with spa packages. However, not all day spas currently incorporate lunch into their services. You should ask about how to incorporate a meal into your time at the spa when booking your appointment and many spas are now finding new and inventive ways to include meals in their treatment menus.
- What else do I need to know? You should try your best to abstain from or limit drinking alcohol beginning the day before your scheduled treatments to prevent dehydration which can affect your skin. You should drink plenty of water while at the spa, especially if you plan on using the steam and saunas as an addendum to a detoxification treatment, such as an herbal body wrap. Most spas have an age limit so not all children can accompany a parent to the spa. However, some spas are now seeking to accommodate families into their services and should you be looking to bring children, search specifically for a spa that caters to family groups and you should have no trouble finding one!