Spa Etiquette – How to Strip and Tip

- Stephanie Wong,

To strip or not to strip?

A trip to the spa is meant to be relaxing. However, if you don’t know the norms, anxiety around basic spa protocol may arise. How much should I tip? Is it rude to tell the masseur that her elbow grinding my neck is creating new knots? And the most pressing question of all:

1. Underwear On? Or Off?

The dilemma that causes the most angst among spa-goers, men and women alike, is whether or not to wear your underwear while undergoing a spa treatment. Before you break into a cold-sweat over your skivvies, remind yourself that this day is all about you! There is no golden rule when deciding whether to go nude or not, so choose whatever is most comfortable. If the thought of baring it all is too much, try services such as Reflexology or a Thai massage, which permit you to keep your clothing on. Most importantly, remember that nudity customs vary across countries, so check what the norms are if you are visiting a spa overseas.

2. Arrive at least 20 minutes early

Arriving early for your spa service means that you will have more time to get acquainted with the area and unwind for your service. Checking in ahead of time will also grant your spa practitioner time to prepare for your service, which will allow you to maximize your allotted time.

Spa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives

3. Use your indoor voice

A trip to the spa can be a great experience to share with your best girlfriends. Although you may be tempted to share the juicy details of Hollywood’s latest break-up, try to save the conversation to share over cocktails after the spa. You don’t have to be mute, but remember that other spa guests are looking for a peaceful and serene experience.

4. Receive body services first

If you are lucky enough to have been spoiled with multiple spa services, remember as a rule of thumb, always try to receive body services before the others. This will maximize your spa experience and the benefits from your treatments. So this means get the massage before the facial, the body wrap before the express pedicure and the sea-salt scrub before the paraffin manicure.

Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

5. Speak up

If the pressure from your deep-tissue massage is making your face cringe and your toes curl, speak up.  As long as you communicate in a polite and respectful manner, your spa service provider is happy to accommodate your needs to ensure that you are enjoying the experience to the fullest.

6. Tipping

Similar to other services, it is a best practice to tip 10-15% of the service’s price before tax – this typically applies across North America, Asia and Europe. One thing to remember, however, is that some spas have taken the initiative to include the tip in the price of the service, so be sure to clarify the tipping protocol when booking your appointment.

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