Your First Visit to a Spa: What to Expect

photo credit: Marco Island Marriott

Your First Visit to a Spa: What to Expect

By Ava Roxanne Stritt

Your first visit to the spa may feel intimidating. What goes on behind those closed doors? Should you leave your undergarments on for a massage? Should you shave? How much do you tip?

If you’re new to the spa scene, you may feel overwhelmed with the rush of questions. But since getting stressed out about your de-stressing goes counter to the entire goal, then inform yourself before you go and walk through those doors with confidence.

Here are seven things to know before your first spa visit:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Every spa is different, and they don’t expect you to be the expert. Relax and trust your therapist. If you're unsure about anything, ask.

When you first arrive, find the receptionist and check in. You will often be guided to a comfortable relaxation room, which may have hot tea or infused water. Turn off your phone. Read a magazine or enjoy the quiet. You may hear the bubbling of a fountain or peaceful music. Don’t expect a TV and entertainment, although some waiting rooms (typically for men) do have TVs.

2. Express your personal needs.

This is all about you. Know your goals and express them. Tell your therapist if you have any sensitivities, injuries or worries. The better you communicate, the better your therapist can tailor your treatment just for you.

3. Do what feels comfortable to you.

Some treatments will come with the option to get undressed "to your level of comfort.” If that’s a sports bra and underwear, a good therapist will respect that.

If you sign up for a mud bath or body wrap, consider how comfortable you might feel getting completely undressed. But don’t feel nervous: therapists have special ways of maneuvering towels and sheets to honor your privacy. Also, your therapist will always step out of the room for you to change.

4. Practice good etiquette and hygiene.

Be polite, and that goes for your physical interactions, too. Even if you are getting a bath treatment, it’s polite to groom beforehand.

Arrive clean, but you can skip your at-home oils, lotions and perfumes. They may clash with the spa products.

5. Budget in a tip.

It's customary to leave a 15 to 20% tip at the reception desk when you check out.

6. Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water before and after a treatment. Avoid excessive sun and alcohol.

7. Plan in extra time.

Many spas also offer additional services, such as a well-stocked locker room, hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, snacks, reading material and even food. If you're interested in taking advantage of these features, which are usually included in the price of your treatment (except for meals), then arrive at least 30 minutes early and plan on staying at least 30 minutes afterward.

They expect - and want - you to indulge in these offerings, so don’t feel rushed to get in and out.

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