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Spa Tips and Guidelines

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I received a gift certificate to a spa at a fancy resort. This will be my first time to a spa, and I don't know what to expect, especially from a massage. Are there any etiquette rules that I should be aware of?


A little apprehensive

Dear A little apprehensive,

Luxury spas will have excellent facilities with a variety of services. Depending on the spa, you will have healthy meals, exercise area, hot natural spring water, sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and massage.

In addition, there could be activities such as golf, tennis, or hiking. It is fine to call the resort spa directly, ask questions or discuss any concerns, and find out what activities are available so that you can bring appropriate attire, i.e. swimsuit, exercise clothing. The spa is supposed to help you relax and recover from the stresses of every day life. Below in brief are some of the general spa tips recommended by Spa Finder (, 2008).

Below in brief are some of the general spa tips recommended by Spa Finder (

15 Spa Tips and Guidelines

1. Explore the facility: check out the activity schedule upon arrival and ask for a tour.

2. Book in advance: resort and hotel spas often fill up fast. But, also ask about cancellation policies.

3. Cancellation: if you must cancel, let the spa know as much in advance as possible.

4. Medical conditions: let them know when you book as some treatments may not be advisable. Also, let the technician know if you are wearing contact lenses.

5. Activities before spa: on the day of your spa treatment, avoid the sun and alcohol prior to treatment, and do not to eat at least an hour before your appointment.

6. Valuables: do not bring to the spa.

7. Shaving: if you shave, be sure to do so at least two hours before your appointment.

8. Arrive early: 15-30 minutes early for an unhurried transition into the spa.

9. Cell phones: leave at home, in your room, or turn them off.

10. Conversation: speak in a low volume.

11. Communicate preferences: Always let your massage therapist know your preferences, i.e. be gentler, room temperature, music, lights, or anything you need.

12. Pool, sauna, or steam room: Shower before entering any pool. For the sauna or steam room, use plastic shoes provided by the spa, always sit on your towel. Never shave your legs in the steam room.

13. Nudity: Massage is usually done nude, but you are covered with a sheet, and only the area being worked on will be exposed. If you feel uncomfortable being naked under the sheet, then you can wear undergarments.

14. Therapist: request a male or female massage therapist.

15. Gratuities: inquire if gratuities are included. If not, then 15% tip (more or less depending on the quality of service) can be left at the reception desk for your therapist. If services from other people were provided (i.e. facial esthetician), then leave a separate tip them.

For more information about spas or spa etiquette, go to