A trip to the spa should be a relaxing, blissful experience, but if it's your first visit, it can be slightly nerve-wracking not knowing what to expect. The following tips on spa protocol 101 will remind you to mind your p's and q's even while you're being pampered--and act as a manual to make the most out of your first spa-going encounter.
Be On Time
If you're running late, you lose - spas often can't push your appointment back more than 10 minutes. Do whatever you need to do to be early!
Need to Cancel?
Be conscious that short-notice cancellations will probably incur a charge, especially if you've left your credit card number at booking. Know the spa's cancellation policies when you book and give as much notice as possible if you change your appointment plans.
Male or Female?
It's up to you. Spas make every effort to accommodate guest wishes in this regard.
Are you Modest? Nudity is probably the aspect of spa-going that causes guests the most anxiety. Let's be serious--baring it all to someone you've just met can feel awkward. But keep in mind that most therapists in the States go to great lengths to maintain guest modesty, stepping out of the treatment room to allow you to disrobe and get comfortable under the sheet on the massage table. If you're uncomfortable about being in the buff, you don't have to undress completely; it's perfectly okay to wear underwear while having a massage. Second, there are select treatments for which spas will often supply disposable undergarments.
No Phones Your cell phone or BlackBerry should be turned off--and kept off--while in the spa; using either is a huge no-no. How inconsiderate it is to hear phones rings and A & B conversations.
Say Yes to Gratuity
Leaving 15 to 20 percent is customary. Tips should be left at the reception desk, which will have gratuity envelopes and pass them along to the therapist (you may want to check with your spa prior to paying, as most permit cash tips only). Received services from more than one therapist? Leave a separate tip for each one. Also, more often than not, spa staff appreciates when the gratuity is left in cash.