It’s a classic scenario: you go to the spa to relax, but as you arrive to start to stress about what is considered “proper manners”. Do I tip the therapist? Do I leave the tip with the front desk associate? How much do I undress? Follow these general guidelines to put the relaxation back in to your spa visit.

Book your appointment at least 48 hours in advance, and be clear on policies. Most spas will charge you for cancelling within a 24 hour window since they could have booked another person in your time slot. If you are trying a new service, ask questions about what clothing you should wear, things you should know, etc. If you have a preference between a male and a female therapist, this is the time to put in your request! Any health issues you want the spa to be aware of should be discussed at this point.

Arrive to your appointment at least 20 minutes early. This allows time to change into a robe, fill out any pre-consultation card, and relax before your service. Are you familiar with the area? Plan ahead if parking may be a concern, and be prepared with cash if the spa has a valet parking service. Call the spa if you run into an unexpected delay; you don’t want the therapist to think that you will be a no-show. Being late isn’t the end of the world, but your service may get cut short, and you don’t want to throw off the therapist’s timing for the rest of the day.

Disrobe to your comfort level. There really is no right or wrong method. Plenty of people remove all of their clothing for a massage (which helps avoid getting oils and creams on anything), but you certainly don’t have to. Feel free to ask your therapist what is best (they are there to make you feel comfortable, after all). For a facial, you are typically provided with a strapless gown. Keep in mind that you will be covered with a sheet during any service, at that your therapist is a professional who should make you feel comfortable no matter what.

When it comes to tipping, this is typically done with the front desk associate (after all, who wants to carry money around in their robe?). Leaving about 15% is average, but feel free to give less or more depending on your experience. Some spas build gratuity in to the bill, so check the receipt or ask the front desk if this is the case. If you have a comment (good or bad), let them know! Just like any business, a spa operator wants to know what they are doing right and what needs to be improved upon. They will be grateful for your feedback.

If you are at a spa with a hot tub, sauna or relaxation lounge, make the most of your experience by lounging after your appointment. Bring a bathing suit, and be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Spas are typically mindful of the environment, so try to limit your use of towels.

Most importantly, remember to relax! A spa’s entire mission is to please clients like you, so don’t get too caught up in etiquette or modesty. Visit their web site ahead of time to be clear on their policies and extra amenities that you may want to take advantage of. This is the time to focus on yourself and let go of daily stress.

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