Common Spa Questions Answered
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Common Spa Questions Answered

From tipping to underwear, the rules you need to know for your first trip to the spa.

Making the Appointment

It's meant to be relaxing, but the truth is, many people are intimidated by spas. Betsy Isroelit, a spokeswoman for SpaFinder, a spa-tracking Web site, says most people never trade in spa gift certificates because they have no idea what to expect. So here are answers to 7 common questions so you can enjoy your massage, anxiety-free.

Q. Will the spa mind if I call with questions before making an appointment?

A. They'll appreciate it, and may even encourage you to come in for a free tour to see what the setup looks like. But don't expect to see any therapies taking place, to protect the privacy of other patrons.

Q. Can I request that I have the therapist of my choice, either female or male?

A. Don't be shy about requesting a therapist when scheduling your appointment -- spa experts recommend it.

Q. How do I behave with the therapist? Must I talk, or stay silent?

A. It's okay not to talk during the treatment if you don't want to; therapists take their cues from their clients.

At the Spa

Q. Will I have to be naked?

A. That is up to you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Though most people completely undress for a treatment, it isn't necessary. For example, you should feel free to wear your underwear -- a masseuse can usually work around it. Spas will not compromise your modesty. If you're having a water treatment, it is your option to wear a bathing suit.

Q. How much should I tip?

A. Check your service fee first. Spas sometimes include the tip in the total cost of the service. If you do need to tip, between 10 and 20 percent is customary, depending on how happy you were with your treatment. Is the spa has a coordinator who shows you to a changing room, provides you with towels and robes, and offers you tea and water, it may be appropriate to tip between $3 and $9. If you're nervous about this, definitely call ahead and ask the spa receptionist.

Q. What if I'm uncomfortable with something about the therapy?

A. Speak up and let the therapist know if the pressure is not adequate or too firm. Express your likes and dislikes and feel free to ask questions. Remember: their job is to give you the most pleasurable experience possible.

Q. What do I need to tell a spa or individual therapist about any medical conditions?

A. Advise the spa of any medical conditions or pregnancy so they can tailor the treatment to your specific needs. Heart conditions, high or low blood pressure, and arthritis are examples of conditions that you should alert your therapist to so he or she can tailor your treatment appropriately. It's probably also a good idea to alert your therapist to any contagious viruses or skin conditions as well.