Visiting one of our spas for the first time – or indulging in a new treatment – can be daunting. To help you understand what happens at a spa, we have put together a guide on what to expect before, during and after your treatment.
What happens in a spa: before your treatment
It’s important to arrive 10-15 minutes before your spa treatment. If you’re late, this will reduce your treatment time. When you arrive at the spa’s reception, you may be offered a glass of water, a smoothie or herbal tea. You might also receive a tour of the facilities and will be asked to complete some forms.
The forms cover allergies or intolerances, medical issues, injuries or other concerns the spa therapist should know about before your treatment. You might also be asked what you would like the therapist to focus on, such as relaxation, detoxification or targeting a specific part of the body.
You will likely be directed to the spa’s changing room to store your personal items in a locker and, depending on the treatment, change into a robe (you can put swimwear or underwear underneath).
Many people enjoy using the spa’s hydrotherapy or sauna facilities prior to their treatment. This not only helps you to relax, it warms the muscles before a massage and gently opens the pores before a facial. It’s a good idea to shower off any sweat or chlorine before your treatment.
At the allocated time, make your way to the treatment room or wait to be escorted by the therapist. If you are still dressed, you might be invited to undress in the treatment room. For back massages, you usually keep on your underwear. For full-body treatments or those that include a body exfoliation, your therapist may give you some paper pants to wear instead of your regular underwear.
The therapist will go through your consultation form to check any issues before the treatment starts. Depending on the treatment, you may be asked to lie face up on the massage table or on your front with your face resting in the cushioned hole. The therapist will leave the room while you take off your robe, if required, and position yourself. There will be a towel that you can use to cover yourself.
Your spa therapist will knock on the door to ensure you are ready before she/he re-enters the room. They may ask if the temperature, lighting and music are okay for you and will adjust the massage table height and any support cushions to ensure that you are comfortable (cushions beneath your knees help to support the lower back). If you don’t like the sensation of a heated massage couch, or if you feel cold, now is the time to say!
What happens in a spa: during your treatment
If you’re having a massage, your therapist may start the treatment by bathing your feet in a bowl of warm water or cleansing your feet with a massage cloth once you’re lying on the massage bed. This is known as the “welcome touch”.
If you experience any discomfort during the treatment or have questions, be sure to speak up, even if it’s just to request that the therapist uses a lighter/more robust touch. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy the experience – dozing off is okay!
For more on what to expect during a spa treatment, take a look at our separate treatment guides.
What happens in a spa: after your treatment
Your therapist may sound a bell to signal the end of the treatment and will probably offer you a glass of water. They may have mentioned spa products used during your treatment and might also offer lifestyle recommendations that will prolong the wellness benefits when you’re at home. You are under no obligation to buy anything. You might choose to tip your therapist if you wish. For more, see our spa etiquette guide.
Your spa therapist usually waits outside the treatment room until you’ve put on your robe or got dressed. They will then take you to the spa’s relaxation room, which usually features comfortable recliner beds. Some even have squishy (dry) water beds.
These rooms will be softly lighted and usually offer magazines to browse through, herbal teas and water to rehydrate, and snacks, such as fruit, nuts and seeds. Many people take the opportunity to unwind for a few minutes. If your treatment is part of a spa day or spa break, you are then free to enjoy the other inclusions of your package.