Looking for a good spa experience? It's not just about going someplace with beautiful treatment rooms, four swimming pools and fancy waterfalls, or an ice fountain next to the steam room. All this can be nice, but ultimately a spa treatment is a one-on-one experience. Great spas are built around great therapists.
Great therapists feel supported by management, receive quality training and have a good working environment that allows them to do their best work.
The first thing you should notice: Is the spa beautiful to look at? That's important, because visual beauty helps relax us. It should also smell good, appealing to another important sense.
Is the spa concierge genuinely warm and welcoming at reception? Are they well organized and attentive? A smooth entrance always paves the way for the rest of the spa experience.
If the spa is small, the spa concierge might take you to the locker room themselves and show you where everything is, or even give you a pair of slippers at the desk. Larger spas have spa attendants in the locker room. Best practice is to have someone accompany you, instead of just pointing : "the locker room is over there." Basically you want to be feeling attended to at every step of the way.
The Role of The Therapist
The therapist -- the person who is actually giving you the treatment -- is your main point of contact.
He or she should be professional, courteous, pleasant and cleanly dressed and the treatment should start on time. (Almost all therapists do this or they wouldn't last long.
The therapist should lead you to the treatment room, talking to find out what you want to work on or staying "connected" in some way.
They shouldn't be walking in front of you. Their manner should put you at ease.
Once in the room, the therapist should give you clear instructions on where to put your robe, how to get on the table, and Therapists should wash their hands before they touch you. Therapists should follow your lead in terms of how much talk occurs during the session. They should not discuss their personal problems with you.
For a good spa experience, massage therapists should be sensitive to the kind of touch you want in terms of pressure. There should never be a sexual quality to their touch.
You should not be left alone during body wraps, facials, or hydrotherapy baths. Some spas do leave clients alone, but the best practice is for the therapist to be with the client at all times, enhancing the service and ensuring your safety. Even better is if they maintain therapeutic contact with you, usually through head massage or a foot massage.
It's appropriate for estheticians to ask about your home skin-care routine and offers suggestions, but they should not make you feel pressured to buy products.
You should feel free to ask questions before, during and after your spa treatment. And before you book a treatment, you can ask to take a tour to make sure the spa is clean, pleasant and sanitary.
Ultimately, the most important component of a great day spa is the quality of the personnel. A good massage therapist or esthetician should be able to put you at ease from the start. And some people are more gifted and committed than others.
You can usually feel the difference between the people who are going through the motions and the people who love what they do. If it's a local spa, make a point to rebook with the people who do the best work. They will get to know your body, your preferences, and you will get more relaxed with each other. It can be very satisfying to have an ongoing relationship with a specific massage therapist or esthetician.