Etiquette for the Day Spa Guest

What to Expect

By Charles W. Wiltsie III

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/ Winter 2003.

You’ve just received a gift certificate for a “day at the spa.” You imagine the promise of luxurious treatments like hot stone massage, maybe even a facial, but what else should you expect? And what exactly is a day spa anyway?

Fortunately, there is no great mystery about what goes on behind those spa doors, it’s just more of what you’re already familiar with — complementary approaches to finding and maintaining good health.

What is a Day Spa?

A day spa is a place where a customer, often referred to as a guest, can come to relax and rejuvenate. To this end, the spa staff will create an atmosphere that “conveys and requires complete ambiance with stellar guest service,” says Monica Tuma Brown of the Day Spa Association.

The day often begins with an introductory intake process, helping spa personnel to determine what is appropriate for each guest. Generally guests are greeted by a receptionist and asked to fill out a questionnaire.

About this time, the receptionist gives the guest the day’s schedule, as well as a glass of sparkling water or juice. Then, depending on the treatment, the guest would be escorted to the locker or changing room, undress and put on a warm, clean robe and slippers.

A common spa day might begin with a facial and a Swedish massage followed by a lunch of tea, light fruit and other simple and healthy delights. Afterward, guests might receive a rejuvenating foot massage along with a pedicure.

What is Expected of Me?

• Most day spas require an appointment to receive services.

• Communication is key to getting your needs met. Guests must take the lead and let therapists know if a particular treatment is uncomfortable, if a room is too warm or the music too annoying.

• Payment is usually accepted after the services are rendered and tips may or may not be included in your final fee. A standard tip for excellent spa service is 10 or 15 percent.

• Although many spas offer services to children, most do not have child care facilities.

• Surrender to the idea that the spa and its personnel really do want to serve you.

What is Expected of My Day Spa?

People who work in the spa industry love what they do. It is a field they consciously became a part of, and helping people is what drives them.

Massage therapists and bodyworkers don’t look at their clients or spa guests as fat, thin, ugly or beautiful, but rather see the person as a joy and a privilege with which to work. Massage therapists are experts in the art of healing and nurturing the body through the manipulation of soft tissue.

There are hundreds of types of massage and body treatments your spa therapist might be versed in. Check with the spa director or ask to see the “menu” of spa services and offerings that await you.

Estheticians are experts in face and skin treatments. They understand skin types and procedures for helping the guest maximize the health of their skin. Services may include various muds, scrubs, cleansing milks, acids and countless blends of treatments and healthful chemistry.

All therapists employed by a day spa have a code of ethics they must follow, holding their clients’ interests with the utmost regard and privacy.

Enjoy this world of peace and quiet. The spa experience is one that is sure to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.