It’s that time of year again—when the country oohs and aahs in unison. That’s right, Spa Week is here! From Oct. 14–20, hundreds of spa and wellness locations across the country slash a couple of full-service, swanky spa treatments to just $50 each. It’s a sweet deal and a great way to get pampered for an amazing price!
While spa visits are supposed to relax and unwind you, there are some aspects that, well, freak me out. Here, I asked some spa-industry insiders to put those uncomfortable questions to rest.
Question: Tipping tends to stress me out. When it’s automatically included, does everyone who assists me during the spa visit get a cut? Do I need to give more? How, what, where … HELP!
Stephanie Rest, spa director at The Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, says:
Tipping is often an uncomfortable moment after enjoying a relaxing moment in the spa. It can be awkward when the guidelines are not clearly spelled out and you find yourself wondering: “How much is expected?” and Is something already added or included?” For example, here at the Spa at Regent Palms we add an 18 percent service charge that gets divided amongst all the spa staff. It takes each one of our team members to make the spa experience seamless and memorable from our agents who schedule, to locker room attendants, and service providers.
A few tips when visiting a spa are to always ask at the time of booking your reservation if any additional taxes or gratuities added to your service. This is an important question especially while on vacation, as each country has different tax laws, resort and gratuity policies. You may think you are having a $100 treatment and after taxes and gratuities it ends up costing you upwards of 10-50 percent more. Always clarify prior to booking to avoid confusion. If no gratuity is included or you would like to leave an additional tip, please do so with the receptionist in a sealed envelope at the front desk.
Tipping in the treatment [area] can be offensive in some countries or against the spas policy. Often times in-treatment-room tipping it is against the spa’s policy, because a gratuity is already included and the spa wants to ensure you understand this before leaving an additional tip. A tip in my book is always very subjective and personal. My personal motto: Tip to the level of service you received. It’s a recognition of superb service and not expected.
Question: Underwear … on or off? Does it really matter? Is this a common question or am I the only one who actually wonders about this?
Manoj Kutteri, wellness center director at The BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia’s premiere health and wellness resort, says:
Having underwear on or off is very much dependent on the type of treatments you receive. For example, I suggest keeping them on for a treatment that is a bit more intense such as a sports massage or other manipulation; which would involve a range of movements.
However, if the massage has more focus on the lower back muscles, hip and pelvic joints, it may be worth considering no underwear. This also applies for certain treatments, such as Ayurvedic massages, where the attention is given on nerve pathways and drainage and also demands long stroking movements without any interruption.
Yes, it is a common question by the guests especially from those who visit the spa or have a unique treatments for the first time.
Question: The male/female therapist issue. Does it matter? How do I choose and does it really matter?
Andrea Magalhaes, director of spa operations at Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City, says:
During a massage there is a level of intimacy with a stranger that is unfamiliar for most people and because of this most women prefer female therapists and the same goes for men. I have found that clients most often choose a massage therapist based on their own comfort level, religious beliefs and biases. The most common reason that male therapists are requested is that they are stronger and can deliver a deeper massage. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but treatment protocols are consistent and do not change based on the gender of the massage therapist.
Scheduling in advance gives the client the opportunity to get their optimum time, service and requested therapist without having to compromise their experience. Most often the clients do forget to specify, however, it is the industry standard for every spa concierge to ask the guest if they prefer a male or female therapist to avoid any discomfort of frustration the day of service. Throughout my time with Caesars and in the spa industry I’ve seen a shift as the question of male or female therapist seems to matter less over time, which is good news. I tend to see experienced spa-goers say they care less and less with each visit about the gender of their therapist and focus more on wanting the best therapist available.