Spa Etiquette: Know How to Tip and Strip at the Spa

An experience at the spa is like none other. Where else can one receive pampering services, reconnect with one’s self, and emerge revitalized? Spas offer personal, hands-on services that provide endless healthful benefits. Because of their intimate nature, the spa environment can also represent an unfamiliar level of exposure to new spa-goers. To get the most out of their experience, visitors need not be intimidated. A little bit of knowledge and preparation can go a long way.

The first rule of thumb is to arrive early to any appointment. For first-timers, this is a good time to enjoy the facility and peruse their other services. Many spas have both male and female therapists on staff. If you have a preference, don’t hesitate to let your choice be known. Customers receiving a massage are met by a therapist who escorts them to changing room. Robes and sandals are made available for the comfort of the client. Underwear may be left on. For clients who may be changing in the room where the service is provided, the therapist will leave the room, giving the client time to change out of their clothes and lie down on the table.

During a massage session, the therapist may ask for some feedback as to comfort and any trouble areas that might need extra attention. It’s important for customers to relax and enjoy this time but also communicate any discomfort. Therapists are well trained in the art of draping, which means they keep clients covered at all times except for the area of the body being massaged. Some enjoy conversing quietly with their massage therapist during the session and others prefer to remain quiet. It’s up to the client and her comfort level.

After the massage session, the therapist will leave the room as clients slip into their robe or clothes. It’s important to vacate the room within a reasonable amount of time as the room must be prepared for the next client. A glass of water should be provided by the therapist following the massage. Hydration is an important element in massage therapy as it helps to clean the body of toxins. Clients should be escorted to the changing room where they can freshen up.

For those receiving body scrubs, body wraps and hydrotherapies, clients are not draped in order to receive maximum benefits from the services. In some instances swimsuits are optional. Clients should inquire with the staff beforehand. When entering a soaking pool, a swimming pool or whirlpool, it’s necessary to shower beforehand. In the sauna or steam, clients should always sit on their towel and wear the sandals provided by the spa.

Facials are the second most popular spa service after the massage. Those who schedule two treatments together should get a massage before the facial. Clients receiving a facial should alert the esthetician if they are wearing contacts. Facials consist of a deep cleansing using mineral essentials and other products to purify, nourish, and tone skin. Basic facials take one hour to perform. It’s not necessary to unclothe during facials.

The spa is a great place for some alone time so leave children under 16 at home. If someone else has brought along young children who are disruptive, it’s a good idea to speak to a staff personnel. The spa environment is one that is meant to foster calm and serenity. For that reason, it’s also important to turn off cell phones at the spa or leave them at home. And although the spa is a “customer first” service industry, that does not give clients the license to speak abusively to spa staff. Lewd and inebriated guests will also find themselves quickly and professionally dismissed from the spa.

In all service-related businesses it’s common to tip the person who has performed a service. If a service was rendered to the satisfaction of the customer, it’s expected the client will tip for the service. The rule of thumb for spas today is 15 to 20 percent of the cost of service, or about $ 10 to $ 15 for one treatment. If you are enjoying spa services as a result of a gift certificate, inquire if the tip has been included in the total. Tips are made at the time of check out. Many spas provide envelopes at the front desk for tips.

For those who are still unsure about their first spa visit, consider going along with a friend who has spa-going experience or call ahead for a tour of the facility.

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