Whether you are on a vacation or a staycation, pampering and me-time at a spa can take you away from the stresses of your daily life. Follow these etiquette tips to make sure those around you, both other guests and staff, can enjoy their time as well.
Arrive 15 minutes early or more: Arriving early gives you time to change into a robe, fill out forms and enjoy your surroundings. Arriving late adds stress to your therapist who is trying to give you complete treatment, and can end up pushing back other people’s appointment times. Barbara Stirewalt, general manager at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, advises guests to come early to, “warm up your muscles in the steam room or sauna, have some tea and get into a mindful state for your treatment.”
Disconnect digitally: Beeps, buzzes and streaming videos (yes it happens) kill the tranquil spa vibe, so leave your cellphone in your locker to help staff and other guests feel at ease. “Digital detox” is an important part of the relaxation experience, said Stirewalt.
Quiet please: Bridal parties and other group events can be wonderful for bonding but be aware of other guests who may not want to hear about last night’s bender and be mindful of the attendants who are trying to keep everyone happy.
Communicate: Massage therapists and other service providers want to provide an optimal experience, so speak up during the session rather than complaining afterward (especially online). Maybe you want a gentler touch on the massage table, need hypoallergenic products or prefer subtler scents. It’s important to tell your therapist, Stirewalt said.
Practice good hygiene: Shower and dry off before entering the sauna, advises Irene Forte, the global wellness director of Rocco Forte Hotels, which are found in the United Kingdom, Europe, China and Russia. Sit or lie on a towel to avoid direct contact with the wooden benches and walls, including your feet and back. Always shower before using plunge pools, hydro pools or other shared water experiences, she said.
Pick up after yourself: Place used robes, towels and flip-flops in the appropriate containers rather than leaving them on the floor. If you’ve left a big clump of hair in the shower drain or have used makeup remover pads, throw them in the trash, said Forte.
Leave children at home: Spas are places of quiet and calm. Asking to bring a child to can put the staff in an uncomfortable position and elicit complaints from the other guests.
Be aware of local norms: Tipping practices, acceptable nudity and even the body parts a masseuse may touch can differ from country to country. Decorum can also vary between spas, said Sylvie Cohen Gabay, general manager at the Cramim Spa & Wine Resort outside of Jerusalem. While secular spas in Israel have the same dos and don’ts as those in America, for example, “It’s best to go straight to the source and speak with the spa directly,” if you have any questions about your destination, she said.
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