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Spa Etiquette Tips

by Jocelyn Milici

Let’s face it. Everyone loves to get pampered. It’s a self-loving ritual that makes us feel healthy, cleansed, pure, peaceful, comforted. To me, nothing beats a spa vacation. As independent as I am, I usually do day spas on my own, but traveling with friends on a spa trip for a bachelorette (or bachelor) party or general getaway with friends also tops the charts. And everyone should be aware of some basic spa etiquette.

Spa retreats and visits are grand when taken alone, but even more memorable with others. Nothing is more certain when a group of good friends gets together (at least with my friends) than lively conversation and side-splitting laughter. But spas offer a place of tranquility, and sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that other guests are also paying for that peaceful away-from-reality setting.

Here are a few etiquette tips (so you’re welcome at the spa next year):

Quiet Times
When entering treatment areas and rooms, you’ll get the most out of the experience (and so will others) if you stay quiet. Breathe deeply, absorb the relaxing air to its fullest, bring a good book for down times, and save the chit-chat with friends for meals (a time when others at the spa are likely to be more social), drinks out at a local restaurant or bars, on hikes or while doing activities outside of the spa, or create a happy hour haven for the gang in your room.

Cell Phones
Golden rule: Turn them off when you arrive at a spa and leave them off until you return home. The essence of a spa is utter relaxation for you and other spa-goers. Don’t be that person who gets the evil eye from those trying to forget they have cell phones while living blissfully in the “now.”

If you’re traveling with others on a spa vacation, don’t assume everyone has the same tipping policy in mind. While individuals can pay for individual massage or other appointments (and tip accordingly), you may want to remind people before the trip to tip therapists. While individuals can vary their tipping amount depending on service quality, when in a group, it seems especially polite to tip at least 15%.

Be sure to check with the spa for their general policy and ambience on nudity. Most likely there will be varying levels of comfort and familiarity about spa services between traveling companions. Some destination spas or resorts offer services where you and others may be partially or fully nude, such as steam rooms, mud bath areas, etc. Phone the spa before scheduling appointments so you can communicate clearly and set expectations with friends or family, so everyone can relax in their own comfort zone by choosing whichever spa services they prefer.

Group Appointments
Schedule spa stays (at resorts or destination resorts) and/or appointments for service several months in advance to ensure you and your compadres have enough room, can secure rooms next to each other, and can schedule appointments together (steam room, wellness classes, etc.). Scheduling massages and other treatments simultaneously or around the same time allows you to go into the pools, steam rooms and ante rooms ahead of time together.

By scheduling appointments in sync or timed closely together, you can plan other activities before and after the spa service time. That way the whole group can continue to enjoy the trip together. You can set each day’s agenda for the group loosely based around spa appointments.

>> See more spa etiquette tips from Spafinder.

Jocelyn Milici has worked in online travel for over eight years, including five years managing content at Expedia, and is currently a freelance writer/editor and blogger for

all photos by digital_eye