Top tips for spa etiquette

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In celebration of National Spa Awareness Week this month we’ve asked Jason Goldberg, founder of spa booking agency SpaSeekers.com to share his tips for how to get the best out of your visit.

What should you take to a spa?

As well as your swimming costume, it’s worth checking whether the spas will provide a robe and towel. Most do, but if not you’ll need flip-flops and a loose robe. Most spas provide hairdryers and some even have hair straighteners, so you really just need to take any toiletries and make-up that you want to use after your treatments.

How old do you have to be to visit a spa?

The majority of spas make the minimum age 16, although some restrict it to 18+ while others welcome younger teens. An adult usually has to be present with any spa visitors under 18.

How should I prepare for my treatment?

If you are pregnant or have any skin complains, you should let the spa know in case it affects the treatment. Most spas have shower and changing facilities so you can always get ready once you’re there. As for food, a light meal or snack is fine before a treatment but avoid anything heavy, particularly if you are having a body treatment.

Should I use the spa’s thermal facilities before or after a treatment?

Always use thermal facilities before a treatment – they warm up the muscles of the body, providing a deeper level of relaxation from any body treatment. They also open the pores of the skin for deep cleansing. During a treatment, some products ideally need to be left on the skin for a period of time for you to get the full benefit, so it’s not recommended that you use any of the spa facilities that would wash or steam away these products.

How early should I arrive for my appointment?

It’s best to turn up around 15 minutes before your appointment – there are often medical forms or questionnaires on skin types, etc, to fill out, depending on your treatment. Plus it gives you the chance to relax and get ready.

Will I have to strip off for treatments?

It depends on the treatment – your therapist will tell you if you need to strip down completely, and will leave the room to let you get comfortable in private. Most spas provide disposable underwear for use during treatment, which will not only keep you covered but will also ensure that your clothes aren’t stained with any massage oils.

What about my jewellery?

If you’re having any kind of body treatment, you’ll probably have to take all your jewellery off. Spas have lockers and changing facilities, but if you’re worried then simply leave it at home – it’s one less thing to take off once you’re there!

Can I talk during my treatments?

Before your treatment starts, your therapist will ask whether there are areas you’d like them to focus on, and with massages the therapist should check with you if the strength of the treatment is right. Beyond that, talking during the treatment is down to personal preference and a good therapist will follow your lead. Always speak up if something hurts, doesn’t feel right or isn’t what you wanted.

Should I tip the therapist?

In the UK, it’s not generally expected, but is always appreciated. If you feel that the service was particularly good then you can always leave a small tip at the reception as you leave.

Should I give feedback after the treatment?

We’d always recommend letting the spa staff know what you thought and many spas will provide you with a feedback form to complete. If something is wrong or you felt could be improved, explain to them why and then they know for the next time.

This year’s National Spa Awareness Week (4-8 November) is being held in association with the International Stress Management Association as it coincides with National Stress Awareness Day on 6 November and will be run in support of military charity Combat Stress.

For the Candis at-a-glance guide to the best spas in Britain and Europe, see our 2013 Spa Awards here.

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