A spa may be the mecca for relaxation, but most of us would be lying if we said these thoughts never crossed our minds when we were prepping for a treatment. Rest assured, spa directors share a common goal: For you to unwind, enjoy your experience and—at all times—to be comfortable. So, next time the stress of “am-I-doing-this-right?” starts to creep up on the road to recharging, remember these tips.
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What level of nudity is right?
This may be surprising, but U.S. spas are actually incredibly conservative when it comes to disrobing at a spa, and Rachel Stacy, director of spa operations for Hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, CA, says this is probably the number-one question most spa therapists are asked. Bottom line: It’s really up to the customer. “We always tell them to disrobe to their comfort level. Typically, it’s easier to perform a back massage without bra straps in the way but we can always work around that,” she says.
Will I be exposed during my treatment?
Another nod to the nudity question, but this time it has more to do with wondering if your therapist will be careful to keep you covered. Gary Virden, director of spa and recreation at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, says, “Our providers are well-trained on proper draping techniques to ensure that each guest is very comfortable and not feeling exposed during their treatment.”
If I am getting a facial, should I come with my makeup off?
“Typically, it’s easier to come in without makeup so we can get started right away,” Stacy says, adding that she is also asked by guests if they should bring their makeup with them to the spa to reapply after the treatment. “Of course you can bring makeup to apply after your facial, but you’ll always leave with moisturizer and sunscreen on.”
Should I shave or not shave before getting a massage?
Again, it’s really up to you and what makes you comfortable. “Generally, you’ll receive more exfoliation of dead skin by shaving, but it’s not a must,” Stacy says. Spa director Norman Sarmiento of The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, adds, “Guests do not need to worry, our spa therapists are all professionals and want the customer to be as comfortable as possible. It is all about the guest having the best possible experience.”
Is it weird to fall asleep during a treatment?
Most spa therapists will actually tell you this is the utmost compliment to their technique. Sarmiento says some clients are worried about falling asleep during a facial, in particular. “As long as the aesthetician is able to perform the facial and the customer is happy and comfortable, then it is perfectly fine.”
Or even weirder that my stomach is making noises during this massage?
Breathe easy: This is way more common than you think and is actually a legit sign that you are resting. “Tummy gurgling, relief sighs and are sounds that the guest may feel self conscious about, but are signals to us that you are in a parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’) state,” says Kristi Dickinson, director of spa and fitness at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. “Therefore, we welcome them!”
What should I bring?
Maybe a basic question, but one that spa directors and therapists see their guests struggling with—and probably one that can sum up this list in a sentence: “Come as you are…come exhausted, come unshaven, come distracted, come with the cellulite you were hoping to lose by now, come with your hard edges, your delicate nerves, your rambling stories, your need for quiet, your wish for peace,” says Allison Shumann at The Mayflower Grace. “I am all those things, we are all those things. Come as you are…”
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