Spas can range from small day spas
to sprawling resorts with luxurious facilities. One thing that they have in common, however, is that they offer facials, massages and other body treatments, like salt scrubs and body wraps. Many spas also offer waxing, lash and brow tinting, manicures and pedicures.
If you’re new to the whole spa experience and don’t know where to begin, a good place to start is with a massage. Massage has countless health benefits—from releasing muscle tension and calming the nervous system to improving blood circulation and stimulating the lymphatics, which help your body detoxify. Those who’ve never had a massage might want to begin with the classic Swedish massage, a deeply relaxing treatment, which is the most common type of massage. Another option is the relaxation massage, in which the therapist will go slower and avoid deeper work that could be at all uncomfortable. A relaxation massage is good if you’re sensitive to pain or if you had a lot of deep work done the day before.
If you want deeper work and can tolerate more pressure, you may want to opt for a deep tissue massage, which uses many of the same techniques as Swedish massage; in deep tissue massage, the therapist will work deeper in the muscle tissues to release tightness and knots. From there, you can consider other options that might be on offer—from Shiatsu massage to aromatherapy massage (which uses essential oils with specific healing properties) to hot stone therapy (which uses hot stones for massage and acupressure).
Not interested in massage at all? Try getting a facial. Facials—the next most popular spa treatment after massage—clean, exfoliate and nourish the skin. Some address fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne and dry skin. Others include resurfacing peels, oxygen wraps and facial massage. Facials are given by licensed estheticians with special training in skin care. Ask your esthetician which facial would be best for your skin’s specific needs.
And if you’re in Denver, CO or St. Louis, MO, make sure to stop by The Renewal Room at Soft Surroundings, that offers targeted treatments from Bliss®, Epicuren®, NuFace® and more.
General Spa Etiquette
Be conscientious: Plan to show up 15 to 20 minutes before your scheduled treatment. This will give you time to check in, change into your robe (if necessary) and relax. If you’re running late, spas can’t usually push your appointment back more than a few minutes. Also, be aware that short notice cancellations might incur a charge. Know your spa’s cancellation policies beforehand, and always give as much notice as possible if you must cancel or change an appointment.
Tune out, turn off: There’s no question about it; your cell phone should be turned off—and kept off–while in the spa. Using this is a major Miss Manners no-no in a place where people are trying to relax, enjoy the quiet and get away from it all. Conversation is fine in a relaxation room, as long as it’s in a low volume.
Speak up: Maybe you don’t like the New Age music they’re playing in the treatment room. Or you feel a bit of a chill. These things can be modified to your taste, whether it’s the music selection, the amount of light or the room temperature. If you’d like the pressure of your massage adjusted, let your therapist know. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Sharing facilities: Always, always, always shower prior to entering a swimming pool, soaking pool, jacuzzi or any other shared facility. In a steam room or sauna, it’s good spa etiquette to sit on your towel and wear the plastic shoes provided by the spa.
Nudity: Whether you’re going to a spa for the first time or are a seasoned spa enthusiast, nudity is an
area that can cause spa-goers a great deal of anxiety. Massage therapists are usually very conscious of guests’ modesty, leaving the treatment room to let you get undressed and get comfortable under the sheet on the massage table. If you’re really uncomfortable with being in the buff, it’s acceptable to keep on your underwear while having a massage. Also keep in mind that there are treatments which don’t require you to undress at all—not just manicures and pedicures, but Shiatsu massage, Thai massage and Reflexology. For treatments such as these, generally you can wear comfortable, light workout clothes. When in doubt about what to do, call the spa before your treatment and ask.
Tipping: Leaving 15 to 20 percent tip is customary. Tips should be left at the reception desk, where they very likely have gratuity envelopes that they’ll pass on to the therapist.