First time at spa?

First time at spa?

If the idea of going to a spa makes you nervous, you're not alone. Many people have their first spa experience when they get a gift card to a day spa. Some people don't even use it because they're anxious about what will happen and the finer points of spa etiquette.

But you can relax—literally! The biggest area of concern is usually taking your clothes off for a massage. This shouldn't be a worry, because in America there are very strict protocols for draping during massage. Only the part of your body that is being worked on is exposed. The rest of it is covered with a sheet and blanket or sometimes a large towel. You can keep your clothes on for certain types of treatments such as reflexology. And the truly shy can always get a facial or a spa manicure and pedicure.

And you don't have to worry too much about knowing what to do, because someone will be there at every step to tell you where to go, what to do and what happens next. 

1. Spas, especially those at hotels and resorts, tend to book up quickly so book your spa visit at the same time as you book your accommodations

2. If you prefer a male or female therapist, state your request when you book your treatment. Don’t be shy. If you’re a female and you prefer a female therapist say so. That goes for men too. Some men prefer females, others prefer males. To most spa-goers it doesn’t matter, but it’s entirely up to the individual.

3. Take the time to arrive early (30 to 60 minutes prior at the very least). Certain treatments, massages for instance, require that you fill out a medical questionnaire. You’ll also need time to change and time for a quick tour. You may also want time to enjoy a few of the extras (such as pool, sauna, steam room, relaxation room, gym) before your treatment. The treatment will also be more effective if you allow yourself time to relax and enjoy the entire experience.

4. Spas will provide you with a robe and slippers and most spas will supply bathroom amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, hair dryers. Some even go further with things such as razors, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes and lots of little extras. Just like hotels, spas differ from one to the next so don’t hesitate to ask when you book what you need to bring with you.

5. Make a trip to the loo prior to a service. You don’t want the treatment to be interrupted by the call-of-nature.

6. If you’re concerned about what to wear under the robe, don’t be. Most people are nude under those spa robes, but it’s perfectly O.K. to leave your undies on if you feel more comfortable. Many spas also offer disposable underwear just for that purpose. You can ask for a pair when you’re shown to the locker room. While some European spas tend to be freer and more casual with nudity, most professional spa therapists are taught special draping techniques and the only part of the body exposed at one time is the part being worked on. So don’t worry about lying there stark naked and feeling exposed because most of the time you’re covered by a combination of sheets and towels. Of course, if you’re having a treatment that involves a soak in a whirlpool bath, you’ll need to get in without the towels. But, hey, if you want to wear your undies – you go right ahead, it’s totally up to you. Another thing that new spa-goers may not realize is that a therapists will usually leave the room to allow you privacy to remove your robe and hop onto the treatment table, and vice versa at the end of the treatment. So relax. Professional therapists do everything in their power to make a client feel comfortable and worry free during a treatment.

7. Let the therapist know about your aches, pains, areas that need attention.

8. Let your therapist know if the water in a therapeutic bath is too hot, the massage pressure is too hard, the wrap is claustrophobic, or anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable. They won’t know unless you tell them.

9. Some clients will talk and ask questions during a treatment, others won’t. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for you.

10. Don’t worry about falling asleep on the table. It’s the ultimate relaxation.