Massage and body treatments are a lot more enjoyable if you are properly prepared. Massage etiquette applies to any type of spa services, from facials to pedicures, and it will ensure that you get quality service while remaining comfortable and relaxed. Most spa etiquette tips are common sense, but some are uniquely adapted to the spa environment.
Before your massage or spa treatment, make sure that you book an appointment at a time which is convenient for you. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early, and make sure that you do not need to rush off after your appointment to another destination. Make sure to ask about the spa's cancellation policy, and be specific about what you want. If you want a 90 minute deep tissue massage, for example say that you want a 90 minute deep tissue, rather than “a massage.” If you are booking a spa treatment, ask about available treatments and how long they generally take. After you have made your appointment, ask the receptionist to confirm the date, time, and service with you.
On the day of your massage or spa treatment, make sure to shower and wear loose, comfortable clothing. Being clean is an important part of massage etiquette, since your massage therapist is going to be handling your body. If an area of your body such as your feet is especially dirty, the massage therapist may skip it, and that could make your massage less enjoyable. You should also take off your jewelry, as it can interfere with a massage. Always turn off cell phones, pagers, and other digital devices before entering a spa; this basic massage etiquette makes your session more comfortable and ensures that other spa clients are not disturbed.
When you arrive at a spa, you may be asked to fill out a spa intake form, unless you are a repeat client. This form asks you to disclose medical conditions and concerns which you want the spa to be aware of, and it is a good idea to be honest about allergies and underlying medical conditions such as heart problems or asthma. You will not be denied service on the basis of a medical condition, unless the spa feels that the service you have booked may be dangerous for you, and information on spa intake forms is kept secured because of its sensitive nature.
When you meet your massage therapist, it is a good idea to go over your expectations for the massage. If you have areas which you want the massage therapist to address, request that he or she focus on them, and do not be afraid to talk about any concerns you may have. Once you and the massage therapist have talked about what to expect during the session, you will be asked to step onto the table or floor mat which will be used for the session. If you need to undress, the massage therapist will step out for a moment to allow you to do so.
Clothing is often an issue in massage etiquette. Some types of massage such as Thai massage require loose, comfortable clothing, while others require the patient to undress, at least partially. You should always undress to your personal level of comfort. The massage therapist can usually offer the best massage if you are nude, but he or she can also adapt if you prefer to wear underwear or a bathing suit during the session. Whether you go naked or prefer to remain modest, you will be draped at all times during the massage.
During the massage, you may find that you get the most enjoyable experience by remaining silent, or you may prefer to chat. Express your preference to the therapist before hand. You should also provide feedback to your massage therapist; if you want him or her to go deeper or to work more in a certain area, for example, express it. At the end of the massage, the therapist will step out to allow you to collect yourself, usually telling you to “take your time” getting off the table; interpret this as taking a few minutes, not stretching out for a half hour nap.
Tipping after a massage or body treatment is another tricky aspect of massage etiquette. Standard tips range from 15-20%, although you are not obligated to tip. Be aware that if you do not tip, the massage therapist may think that you were unsatisfied with the massage; if you choose not to tip, you should clearly express your satisfaction, or lack thereof, with the experience.