Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spa 411 – What to expect when “Spa-ing”

Even though I am not a full spa (Yet!) I can offer information on proper etiquette.  I do consider myself a professional “Spa-er.”  There are few things more pleasurable than a day at a wonderful spa.  With my career with Avon Products Inc, I was fortunate to be able to travel far and wide.  The very first thing I would always do upon checking in any hotel was to book spa services.  I have experienced spas from New York to San Francisco, from cruise spas, to tiny little out of the way day spas.  I have had amazing services, some “not memorable” treatments and truly bad, bad, bad experiences in spas.  That make me pretty well versed on this subject.

grove_park_inn_resort___spa_png There are some lovely facilities right here in Columbia.  My little place isn’t big, but I think I offer wonderful services.  Our city is located conveniently to major interstates that  can take me to one of my favorite, close-by “Resort Spas,” the Grove Park Inn (, in Asheville, North Carolina.  I’ll address the different types of spas in just a minute.  One thing to remember, spas are for relaxing, de-stressing,  and re-centering.  Who doesn’t need that?





Most professional spas do not take walk-ins, so it is important that you make your appointment beforehand.  If you are traveling to a resort or destination you should be sure and plan your spa visit(s) just like making your hotel reservations.  Most of the time, you can ask the reservation agent to do that for you or ask to be transferred to the spa.  Most spas have a website with their service menu available to make it easy for you to choose your desired service.  You should plan to arrive at your appointment, at minimum, 15 minutes early and many spas ask for 30 minutes to an hour prior.  This is so that you can have time to complete an in-take form (information form)  and wind down before services.  You may be offered some healthy, light refreshments in a relaxing room.  This is just a good time to mentally prepare for your service and “park” your worries.  If you are late to your appointment most spas will try to accommodate you, but your service will be only during the scheduled appointment time (if allowable) and you will be charged the full appointment fee.  Most spas require a 24 hr cancellation notice.  Check their cancellation policy to see fees associated, but it is typical to be charged if you cancel without a 24 hr notice.  There is no excuse for NO SHOWS!  Most spas have a policy that no shows are charged the full fee for services booked.  Remember, that time is allotted for you and no one else.  Just be courteous with your appointment time.  I offer online booking on my website.  You’ll find a “book now” tab.  It is extremely user friendly and clients get an email reminder the day before. http://;jsessionid=1fbw6tqpkzz8q.cb2?


In my place, you just get me, but in big facilities you’ll find both male and female massage therapist and aestheticians.  You have the option to request one or the other.  It’s all about which you are more comfortable with.  And, that leads me to . . .

. . . ATTIRE


spa wrapYou may be taken to a locker room where you will be given a robe and spa shoes/slippers to change into.  In large spas that is usually the case.  In smaller facilities and singular practitioners it will be more common to be taken into the treatment room and provided with a wrap, or, as with the case of body massage, will be asked to undress (to your comfort level) and go ahead and slip under the sheets.  Full nudity is a scary issue for some people and you should never be asked to do something you are not comfortable with.  It is suggested that you don’t wear a lot of jewelry to your appointment, as you will be instructed to take it all off.  The spa will not be held liable for lost jewelry and you surly wouldn’t want to have your Grandmother’s engagement ring misplaced.  In my practice I have a separate bath/dressing room with hooks to hang your clothing.  I also have a small receptacle  for you to place your jewelry in.  On a related note, please, please, please refrain from wearing fragrance on the day of your appointment.



It’s common courtesy to come clean.  What that means is, don’t come sweaty from your gym workout!  If you are coming for a bikini or Brazilian wax, think about it. Your therapist is all up in your “stuff.”  Be clean!  Freshly saved skin might become irritated when products are applied and manipulated.  It is suggested that you either shave after your treatment or about 24 hours prior.  Again, remember . . . don’t come wearing your favorite fragrance.  What you dfrustrated-woman-holding-cellphone-hp-thumb-250x250early love might not be pleasing to others.  In addition, if you are receiving Aromatherapy, your fragrance might not be a good combination and you will not benefit as you should from your service. 



Do I really need to address this?  Well, yes I do.  As much as I depend on my cell phone, it would so rude for me to interrupt your treatment to take a call.  It goes the other way, as well.  Even if you don’t answer the phone, the ringing is very disruptive.  You cannot relax while your phone is ringing away.  In some spas, NO CELL PHONE ALLOWED signs are posted and you will be asked to leave if you do not adhere.  Turning off your cell phone upon arrival, is simply the best policy. 



You will be asked to complete an intake form upon arrival.  This information form is typically fairly detailed, asking personal information and history.  You may not realize the importance of this information to your treatment, however many medications, conditions, and prior history can affect your skin, as well as with product interactions.  Your therapist desires a wonderful spa experience for you.  Having a negative reaction to product or treatment wouldn’t be a good thing.  In addition, even common things you may not consider a factor,  like fillers, injectables, Retin-A and other products, can actually cause a negative treatment outcome.  Certain medical conditions must be considered prior to receiving spa treatments.  Prior reactions or known allergies must be noted  and discussed for your benefit.

If you are uncomfortable at any time during your spa visit, it is up to you to speak up.  From the greeting you receive when you arrive, to music played in your treatment room, to the final good-bye, it is important to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Don’t be afraid to ask for deeper or lighter touch during a massage.  Tell your therapist if you are cold or hot.  Provide honest feedback at the conclusion of your service.  It’s the only way you will completely enjoy your experience and look forward to your next.  Your therapist really wants to know. Really

When your service is concluded, your therapist will tell you to take your time getting up.  That doesn’t mean take a nap and let me know when you are finished.  Remember that there are other clients coming after you.  The reason they want you to get up slowly is because you might be light headed, maybe a little woozy after your treatment.  Sit up slowly and get your balance before you bound up off the table.  Get dressed.  Make sure you have all of your belongings INCLUDING YOUR JEWELRY, and open your treatment room door.  You may have been instructed to meet your therapist outside your door or even to have a seat in the treatment room.  Usually, at this time, you’ll have a brief recap of what your therapist did and what products were used.  If you have questions, comments or concerns please bring them up at this time.  Don’t leave wondering what that wonderful product was, or why she kept spraying something on you.  Tell her what you loved . . . or what you didn’t.  Ask if she has a treatment plan in mind for you.  Her goal is better skin, better relaxation, and most importantly, a return visit!


It’s not a good idea to eat a big heavy meal right before a visit to a spa.  I suggest a light meal and drink plenty of fluids, especially after a spa service.



YOU are our guest when you are in our spas.  Your time is scheduled for you.  Unless you are scheduled for couples treatments you are typically the only other person in the treatment room with the therapist.  This is for your privacy and with the intention of providing you with 100% of the therapist’s attention.

We know your children are precious – mine certainly are – but they can be a distraction in a spa.  They can also be a concern for safety.  Please DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN to a spa appointment.  It’s just not appropriate.  This is the time for you to book a babysitter along with your spa appointment.  Spa time is time for you to relax and enjoy every little thing, not worrying that your kids are taken care of.  Let them have their fun and play time, too, during your special time.



Did you L-O-V-E  it?  Was is a pleasurable experience? 

What is a Gratuity?

Brief and Straightforward Guide: What is a Gratuity?

A gratuity, or tip, is a small monetary gift given to a service worker in acknowledgment for his or her service. Many people refer to a gratuity as a tip, especially in reference to service workers. Gratuities show gratefulness and appreciation on the part of the customer, rewarding the employee for hard work and also ensuring excellent service in the future. Typically, the amount of a gratuity is a percentage of the total paid for services; this percentage varies, depending on the quality of the service and the industry. 

I have clients ask me all the time if they should give me a tip.  Yikes!  There is no gracious way to say, “Yes!”  I will either feel greedy or think you didn’t really enjoy your service if you don’t tip.  Here is the rule of thumb with spas:  15% – 20% of full listed service cost, even if a discount is given.    You don’t receive discounted effort on your therapist part. Your therapist still gave the same service that she would have at full fee.  Remember a tip is never required, but a way to show how much you enjoyed your treatment. 

I’m ending with a link to SPA CODE OF CONDUCT.  It’s a lot of what I wrote in this blog, but in a more condensed way.  This link is for International Spa Association’s Code of Ethics and what members pledge to provide to you, as a guest.

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