Will everyone see me naked? Will I understand what will be explained to me? How to I know how to get the most from my visit?
As an experienced therapist I know how visiting a health farm, wellness retreat or spa for the first time can be a daunting experience.
So I have wrote a detailed post about what you can expect and how to get the most out of your visit.
I hope this encourages any spa virgins to go ahead and book a visit or if you have a future trip planned, to relax knowing the general routine.
Making the appointment
This is the time to ask questions. Never feel you can’t ask questions and lot’s of them. The receptionist will have gone through the appropriate training to answer any concerns you may have, explain what treatments are best for you and what the treatment involves.
This is also the time to notify the spa if you have any medical issues or allergies.
Stating the obvious, have a shower. If you have pedicure or manicure booked, it is kind to remove existing nail polish. Same goes for makeup
It isn’t advised to remove body hair 24 hours prior to a body treatment, as scrubs, oils and wraps may irritate. Believe me, your therapist will not think twice of stray hair or leg prickles.
Arrive at least 45 minutes before to enjoy the facilities on offer which will compliment your treatment. (Sauna/steam room etc).
In a salon style spa, unless otherwise stated, arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
You will be greeted at reception and may be directed to a dressing room (in a larger spa) to change into a gown. If you are not instructed anything further, remove your clothing and leave your underwear under the gown.
Meeting your therapist
Your therapist will welcome you and either take you straight to your treatment room or a private area and provide a consultation. This is generally to give the therapist an idea of any concerns you may have, what you are hoping to achieve on your visit and if you medical contraindications.
From here he or she will describe the treatment in detail.
Ask any questions, no question is a silly one. If you are anxious about exposing any skin or areas, tell them!
They want you to walk out feeling on top of the world and will work around any worries.
Beginning your treatment
The therapist will leave the room for you to settle yourself on to the couch. Most body treatments require access to your back so settle yourself down bra-less, under the blanket provided on the bed. If nothing has been mentioned about underwear, feel free to leave knickers, briefs on.
If you are a little lost on which side is the top, look for a face hole on the couch and that’s the top.
During your experience
For a treatment which requires you to lay down, the general rule of thumb is to close your eyes (it’s very weird for a therapist to be stared at especially during a facial).
Nothing should be painful so speak out if you feel any discomfort. The same goes if you feel tickled.
You will never feel completely exposed, usually you will have a cover on areas which aren’t being worked on at that time. So for example during a body massage, one leg will be expossed with a cover from your hip to inner leg, massaged, then covered and the other leg stratigically uncovered and repeated.
If you are to turn around or be uncovered at any point, be assured the therapist will look away.
If you feel yourself falling asleep, go for it! Nothing makes a therapist prouder.
When your treatment is finished, you will be gently given a nudge, usually by a hand on your shoulder and maybe sat up with a glass of water and left for a few minutes to regather your energy to enter the world again.
Your therapist may suggest some homecare products. Listen to the advise given, they are usually very well trained and know your skin, tension or concerns at this point.
Ask for leaflets to read later if you are too relaxed to take anything in.
You may be told to take your time getting gowned or dressed while the therapist leaves, this usually indicates around 5 minutes and no longer.
Larger spas will also have a relaxation lounge/room where you will be given refreshments and it’s recommended to relax there for at least 30 mins after treatment (if you fall asleep it doesn’t matter as that is exactly what it’s for) so plan your day accordingly.
When settling your bill and if you have enjoyed your treatment, you may leave a tip. This is usually 10% in the UK and is not expected but a nice gesture. You may leave this at reception rather than in the treatment room or given directly.
How to find a good spa
Ask around, personal testimonials are always a great way to find new places in any field or market and same goes for spas . Ask which therapist they had and what treatment they have enjoyed.
Look online and read reviews.
Look at the spas website, do you like the treatments on offer, philosophy, photo images and does it suit your budget?
Feel free to ask for a tour before you make an appointment, look how clean it is, do the staff seem friendly but professional? Observe how you and other customers are treated. That will indicate whether you’ll have a good experience.
Avoid jumping for an offer online from certain budget sites. Most good spas really don’t need to be involved in these.
What isn’t acceptable
You should always be asked on booking before being given a therapist of the opposite sex. Some Clients prefer and ask for a male masseuse and some females feel uncomfortable.
Your treatment room should be spotlessly clean with fresh towels and bedding.
Your treatment should be generally chatter free unless you instigate conversation. If you feel your therapist isn’t allowing you to relax, just ask for some relaxation time while you have your treatment.
You should never be inappropriately touched! Your massage will most likely include your lower back with a cover over your buttocks and maybe as low as the best builders bum, but no more. Unless you have booked a wrap of some sort, your breasts should not be touched.
If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you must say. People sometimes feel intimidated in a Spa. A good therapist will not take offence with voiced concerns.
And a personal one from me, don’t judge the therapist by size, assuming you will not receive a deep massage. Little 5 foot me found this infuriating. We are trained and know how to adapt for a deep tissue massage using knuckles and elbows.
I do hope this post has given you some confidence if you are worried about a future trip, or encouraged you to visit a spa.