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Beginner Spa-Goer Guide: How To Enjoy your Spa Experience

Beginner Spa-Goer Guide: Step-by-Step Guide Deciphering the Spa Code and Becoming a Savvy Spa Customer

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Have you always wanted to try out a Spa, but never got to?

Have you been to a Spa but not sure what to expect? How to behave? What to do (or not do)?

Do you feel embarrassed asking ‘stupid’ questions?

My first spa experience was when I was 16. My mom brought me to Chiva Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin, Thailand for a ‘Mom & Daughter’ holiday after high school graduation. I didn’t know what to expect, and by the way I didn’t know that I was getting into the Spa industry then. My heart was broken at that time from my first ever breakup. I am so grateful of my mom who brought me there. Honestly I couldn’t even recall what my first spa experience was, I was just going with the flow, following my mom and the spa therapist, and little did I know at that time, my introduction to the world of Spas.

So here’s my own version of a Beginner Spa-Goer Guide to decipher the Spa Codea step by step guide to let you become a savvy Spa-goer and enjoy your Spa bliss to the fullest.

Please note that every country’s custom and culture are different, so may the service protocol in various Spas. Predominantly my experience is from working at upscale hotel/resort and day spas in Thailand and being a spa-goer myself when I am traveling. I’ve been to spas mainly in Asia, and a couple times in the US.  The below guide is intend for using spa services in upscale hotel/resort and day spas. If you go to a massage clinic, foot massage or Thai massage shop, the experience will be different.

So whenever you are unsure what to do, just ask – you ARE the Guest!

Here’s a sneak peek of what entails:

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Beginner Spa-Goer Guide Graphic: feel free to share the image, please link it back to my blog article here, thank you.

 

  1. Book in Advance to avoid Disappointment

Booking a Spa treatment in advance is the same as booking a hotel room or making a restaurant reservation. If you don’t want to be disappointed, then book in advance. City Spas generally get busy in the weekends, or during after work hours on weekdays. If you are staying at a resort, the afternoon times from 4-6pm are the busiest, because that’s when guests return from their daily excursions or sightseeing tours and have some free time to relax a bit before dinner time.

Especially if you want to enjoy a Spa treatment for more than 1 hour, please do yourself a favor and book ahead!

If you walk into a spa that is free all the time, it’s like going into a restaurant with no one else. You understand what I mean, right?

For people like me who work in Spas, we would love to fit as many guests as we can. If you call ahead, we can suggest a time slot that can work for both of us.

Walk-in guests are also lovely, but in reality it takes therapists a minimum of 5 minutes to prepare the treatment room and the products for the treatment. If you are lucky and there are no bookings after you, then you can enjoy the entire 60 minutes (or however long you booked). If not, then the therapist will be in a hurry (but if they are professional then they won’t show it). It misses the point if you have to feel rushed through a supposedly relaxing and winding you down self-pampering time!

 

  1. Female or Male Therapist?

Be sure to let the Spa know if you have a preference for female or male therapist. The Spa Receptionist, if they know what they are doing, should ask for your preference if they have both female and male therapist on staff.

If it’s the first time for you to get a massage, I’d recommend going for a same-sex therapist until you are more comfortable.

Me, I can do both. But I would also prefer female therapist for body scrub and body wrap treatments.

I would only go for male therapist if I am sure of the Spa’s standards. I had a most amazing male spa therapist on staff before, and I would tell my guests that they wouldn’t even notice that it was a man giving the treatment because his hands and energy were so gentle.

A lot of my female guests who were hesitant about a male therapist before definitely fell in love with his treatments afterwards. So worth the try!

 

  1. Arrive Early

If your treatment starts at 10.00am, please arrive at least 5 to 10 minutes earlier.

A lot of Spas (especially luxury Spas) need to “check-in” their guests. For example, asking you to fill out a consultation form, or choosing your aroma blend for the massage.

A consultation form is absolutely essential, as this is the time that you voice your need and expectation for the treatment (or else why would you be paying for a spa treatment at the first place). Most (not all) consultation forms ask which area you would like to concentrate or avoid, if you are having a full body massage. Make sure to fill this out, so the therapist knows where to work on (and you can get your money worth)!

No consultation form? Worry not! You can also inform the therapist before the treatment begins. After all, you are the guest and the therapist is here to help you feel better, not worse!

Arriving early also gives you time to get changed, and enjoy the facilities at the Spa.

Check if the Spa offers complimentary sauna or steam for their guests. If you want to enjoy these facilities, I definitely recommend enjoying them before the treatment. Steam or sauna is a great way to open up the skin pores before your treatment, so your skin can absorb all the good stuff from the spa products. And generally this will help you to wind down and get into the Spa mood. Oh, did I also mention the steam and sauna help your body gently detox too? Remember to rehydrate after the steam/sauna, and after your treatment.

Key Reminder: If you are allergic to nuts, certain essential oils, beeswax, honey, or have sensitive skin, please do let the Spa Receptionist or Therapist know.

Most base massage oils are nut-based, such as sweet almond oil. Ask the spa if they can change to Coconut oil or Jojoba oil if you are allergic to nuts.

If you have sensitive skin, avoid citrus type of oils or ingredients if you are having body scrub or facial.

Unsure of how sensitive you are? Ask the Receptionist before the treatment starts if you can test the product on the inside of your elbow, a very sensitive part of your skin. If you do get red within 5 minutes, make sure to ask for a change of treatment or a product substitute.

 

  1. Get Changed

Some spas have a separate changing room area for their spa guests, and some spas will ask their guests to change inside the treatment room.

Either way, the Spa would provide a bathrobe or a towel for you to change into.

I have summarized below deciphering what stays on or off for which treatment:

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  1. Voice out Your Need

A lot of times when we get naked in front of a total stranger, somehow we feel vulnerable and also embarrassed, to some degree. Me too.

So many times I have endured meh massages, simply because I felt I was being rude and impolite if I did say something, even feeling guilty to the poor therapist who was doing her best. Whether the pressure was too soft and gentle like I felt nothing and even slightly annoyed, too strong and rough that I became too tense, the therapist actually fell asleep while doing the massage, the therapist was not focused in the treatment (yes I could feel that), or the room was too cold, too hot, or too noisy, I said nothing.

Only afterwards I’d vouch that I’d never return to this Spa. How ignorant of me!

You are doing yourself AND the therapist a favor when you voice out your need (just like any other relationship). You are not being a diva or rude. You have paid for the spa experience to treat yourself, and you deserve all the right to improve the experience for yourself. It is difficult for the therapist to guess what you are feeling or thinking if you stay silent.

Most hotel spas or luxury day spas have a set of standard questions for their therapists to check in with their guests before and during the treatment. For example, the therapist would ask if the room temperature is all right, or if the treatment pressure is too strong or too soft. This definitely helps the embarrassment of breaking the silence in the room.

If the therapist forgets to ask, or if you don’t speak the same language, do say something, or use body language when you experience discomfort. The therapist (and on behalf of the entire spa) is only there to serve you, and not to break your bones. Or nerves.

 

  1. IMMERSE IN your Spa EXPERIENCE COMPLETELY

Remember when I said you deserve to enjoy your spa experience? I mean it.

So put away your phone (better lock in the locker), put it on silent so it doesn’t ring in the middle of the treatment. I have seen people talking on the phone while having a body massage (okay I can still accept that for a foot massage in a foot massage shop), but it’s really your quiet time to pamper yourself, isn’t it?

Stop thinking about work or worrying about what you need to do after the treatment finishes. Allow your mind to drift to sleep, or just to a deep relaxed state, and enjoy it. Be in the present moment, and feel every stroke of that massage on your muscles. It’s the perfect time to tune in and connect with your body.

 

  1. Drink ENOUGH Water to rehydrate

After your amazing spa treatment finishes (oh how I wish It can last forever), you will be escorted out to the treatment room back to the changing room, or you will be asked to get changed inside the room.

Make sure to check your belongings before leaving the treatment room or the changing room.

Drink enough water to rehydrate. Most treatments on the body help to stimulate blood circulation and your lymphatic system (and more).

I have personally seen many people, including myself, getting sick or feeling feverish after a deep tissue type of treatment because they didn’t drink enough water afterwards to flush out toxins. Most spas offer a cup of tea afterwards which is also wonderful, but remember to gulp down some water too!

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  1. To Tip or Not to Tip? 

After your lovely spa treatment, it’s time to pay for the services you have received. Or you may have paid up front already. A lot of people always ask me about tipping for the spa therapist.

In most countries, tipping is really up to you. There is no real standard way to tip. But if someone asks me, I’d recommend about 10 – 15% of the treatment price. If you really enjoy the treatment, then definitely you can even give up to 20%, or more.

Do you NEED to tip? No, not necessarily. Except if you are in the US, or countries where tipping is part of the custom.

Who should you tip? There are actually many ways you can do it, and it also depends on the policy of the spa.

If you give to the therapist directly in cash, pretty much the therapist will get all of it. You can also ask for an envelope at the Spa Reception and leave it there, and ask the Receptionist to give to the Therapist after. Some Spas also have a tipping box with each therapist’s name, or some Spas may only accept tips in one big tip box for the entire team.

If you are staying at a hotel/resort, and sign it to the room, the therapist may or may not get the full amount. In Thailand, for example, 7% VAT has to be paid from the tip, so if you write 100THB, the therapist will only get 93THB only. And depending on the Spa’s policy, some Spas share the tips with the other members of the Spa team – because yes, the Spa Receptionists, Spa Attendants and other staff help contribute to the Spa experience, and they too deserve some tip. In my previous Spa, we share 70% to the therapist and 30% to the rest of the spa team.

Not sure how or who to leave the tip to? Just ask! It’s best to ask the Spa Receptionist. I can assure you, that you are not the first one to ask about it. That is, unless, it’s the Spa Receptionist’s first day on the job.

 

  1. Review the Spa

If you have enjoyed your spa experience tremendously, wouldn’t you want to share this positive experience with other people around the globe? Check if the Spa is listed on Tripadvisor, or other Spa listing websites such as SpaFinder or Wahanda.

You can even review the Spa at their facebook page. Some social-media savvy Spas will offer rewards for guests who like their facebook page or write a review for them.

Lastly, if the Spa does offer a feedback form or comment card (it’s already a bonus if they do, it means they care about improving their services and facilities), please do fill it out! Good or bad, we Spa people want to hear it all! That’s how the whole Spa industry can improve and better ourselves to help YOU.

So many times I have been to Spas where they did not even bother to ask for the feedback, and it’s such a pity I feel, because direct guest feedback is one way for us Spas to know if we are on the right track or not.

Not sure how to comment? Even one phrase – thank you it was wonderful, would make our day!

 

CONCLUSION

The Spa is definitely a place for us to pamper and treat ourselves. Most of the time when you enjoy a Spa service in an upscale hotel/resort spa or day spa, the Spa receptionist and therapist will be there to guide you and assist you.

But now that you know what to do and to expect from your spa experience, I hope that you can enjoy your spa experience as a savvy customer.

And if there is only one thing you should really remember, it’s to drink lots of water after the treatment.

So, what is your spa experience like? Please share and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your experience, and if any of the above spa tips are helpful. 

P.S;: Feel free to share the Beginner Spa Goer Guide image with your friends, please link it back to this blog article. Thank you!


Thinking of a spa getaway holiday maybe? Museflower Retreat & Spa offers a value-for-money 4D/3N Weekend Spa Getaway Packages throughout the year. Check it out here


The Museflower Project


 

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Three Friends’ Visit and Review of Museflower Retreat and Spa

GUEST BLOG BY Ophélie, Chloé and MariE


We are three friends from Paris who enjoy personal development, meditation, yoga, treats for the body and the mind and a healthy lifestyle. We had the chance to spend 3 amazing days at Museflower Retreat and Spa during our last trip to Thailand in March 2015. We are sharing a little bit of our experience with you with the hope that you’ll want to go and enjoy this experience as well!

Ophélie, Chloé and Marie.

***

DAY 1 (Ophélie)

I can feel it as I come by the entrance, my body and my mind are already relaxing. The welcome of Tania and her team is so warm and so kind that we feel like home. The Spa centre is surrounded by nature and its sounds, everything is so quiet.

Since we arrived under a grey sky and my body is a bit sore for the past stressful weeks, I suggest we enjoy the steam room to start our weekend in this amazing place. And what is so cool with the Museflower team is that whatever you ask, you can be sure you won’t get a no or a “it’s not possible”. As it takes time (around 20 minutes) to get the steam room warm enough, we do a tour of the place. And what a place! I’m so happy to be only the three of us to enjoy this perfect location.

The steam room is perfect to relieve your body from painful and sore muscles. You store your clothes in a changing room and get a sarong (you can choose to have or not a swimsuit underneath). The spa is built in the middle of the center, shielded from the rest of the park. The steam seems first to not work well (not warm enough and the plant-scent was insufficient) but the team rectifies it really quickly.

The Himalayan salt treated swimming pool helped me to relax deeply and to get definitely away from work and daily life preoccupations. I deeply feel connected here to nature and myself, and for the first time in months I know my night will be long enough to get me rested.

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Museflower is a perfect place to enjoy a “me-time”, be centred and have room in your day to do nothing else than be.

Ophélie @ophelia_af

***

DAY 2 (Chloé)

In the morning, I woke up rested and calm. I sit on the terrace of our little bungalow and enjoy a cup of hot organic tea. The birds are chipping. I don’t remember the last time I heard the sounds of nature. I stay there, looking at the horizon, watching the sun rising.

After a wonderful breakfast (I didn’t know kefir milk could be so good), I decide to go for a walk. I have the feeling that nature is calling me. I try to walk mindfully and pay attention to the earth under my feet. It is still humid from the rain. I take a long inhalation and smell the trees, I sit near a pond. The water is still and so is my mind. This landscape is breath-taking and I feel grateful.

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I come back to Museflower in a different state of mind. I feel relived in this place, mindful, open. I savour a delicious lunch that fills me with joy and pick up a book about Reiki from the library. Tonight I have an introduction to this spiritual practice also known as a traditional medicine.

At 18.00, Tania welcomes us in the meditation room. The sun is going down. We sat on the floor and she tells us about the practice, but not for long. To understand it, we have to practice. My friend lies in front of me and I put my hands on her. I let my intuition guide me and invite the energy of nature to come through my hands. I try to channel this energy to her. I don’t know if I’m doing it properly but it doesn’t really matter. I can feel the warmth under my arms. Tania tells us that anyone can practice Reiki, no matter their age. I find this amazing and decide to use it at home if a member of my family or if my partner feels sick, tired or low in energy.

I come back to my room and decide to go to bed even though I am not tired. I rest and decide not to take my book but to listen and stay alert for a few minutes. Doing nothing, it is difficult but relieving as well. I end up falling asleep. This was such a wonderful day…

Chloé @chloe_chambraud

*** 

DAY 3 (Marie)

On the third day we went for a cycling tour in the beautiful surroundings of Museflower at sunset. Thanks to our two Museflower local guides, we had the chance to cycle on hidden paths and even stopped to look at the sun setting on the lake, whilst migrating birds were just arriving for migration. It felt a little bit like heaven on earth.

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We also had the chance to visit the local village and the cultures of tapioca, and to visit the New Life Foundation that aims to help drug addicts recover from addictions through the practice of meditation and yoga and to talk with some of the members.

I am a big fan of nature and for me it is important to have a daily contact with it. And Museflower was a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature in a beautiful, nature-friendly setting before going back my urban lifestyle in Europe. This caring and loving relationship to local nature infused in the food itself as the Museflower chef Santot cooked for us delicious vegan meals everyday with fresh products sourced locally. We could enjoy the benefits of nature in our minds and bodies. And even after returning to Europe, I can still feel the benefits of this trip in my mind and body as I am feeling calmer and healthier in my body and my mind.

Marie @ma_james

Photos of Our Visit: (by Ophélie, Chloé , and Marie)

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Want to learn more about Museflower Retreat & Spa in Chiang Rai, Thailand and the Museflower Experience? Check out our official website here at: http://www.musefloweretreat.com/


The Museflower Project


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Splash into Songkran, the Thai New Year

GUEST BLOG BY MORNING GLORY


It’s cool spring now in northern countries, but April is the height of Thailand’s scorching hot season. This means the timing is perfect for the Thai New Year Songkran water festival but there’s a strong cultural significance underlying all the fun.

Water is a symbol of cleansing, so splashing each other signifies the washing away the misfortunes or bad luck of the old year and a fresh start for the New Year.

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Songkran was originally celebrated in the north, and is believed to have been brought over by the Burmese, who adapted it from the Indian Holi festival. It spread across the country in the mid-twentieth century and is now celebrated nationwide as well as in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

Derived from Sanskrit, Songkran means “to pass into” – referring to the movement of the sun, moon and planets into a new phase, and therefore the start of a new year. It’s a time of renewal, reunion, and paying respects for Thai people.

Dating back to ancient times, the Songkran festival was celebrated both in the royal court and general public, but were much more solemn compared to today’s water parties. Civil servants and government officials paid homage to the king and drank the oath of allegiance, while the king gave out the annual salary to all government officials. The ritual included the bathing of the Buddha image, the formation of sand pagodas and entertainment, which continued into modern times and grew into the public street parties we enjoy today.

For Thais, this the time when Buddha images are cleansed with scented water to bring prosperity for the New Year. The water used to clean the images is considered holy and is usually collected, then sprinkled on elders to bring them good luck. Most Thais spend the holidays with family as Songkran is the time for family re-unions, visits to the temple and annual house cleaning.

Cities around Thailand close some streets to host wet and wild street parties and Chiang Rai is no exception! If you’re in Chiang Rai during Songkran, head into town where you can see ancient traditions alive and flourishing – early morning offerings to the monks, robe changing ceremonies for Buddha images, parades, games and sports, beauty contests, music and entertainment, in a lively display of northern culture.


Want to learn more about Thai culture and what Chiang Rai offers? Check out Chiang Rai’s attractions and tours available for our guests here at Museflower Retreat & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand? Find out more here.


ABOUT MORNING GLORY

morning glory flowerMorning Glory lives in Bangkok where she takes care of her family and works as a writer and communications consultant.Her past struggles with stress, chronic fatigue and a spine injury led her on a journey in search of alternative healing, and she has travelled around Thailand, Bali, India and Sri Lanka exploring different types of healing retreats and techniques, and led her to practice yoga and Reiki.

Morning is her favorite time of day, when she wakes up to the sound of birds singing in the garden. This flower always reminds her of her childhood, and Thai sautéed “Red Fire Morning Glory” is one of her favorite vegetarian dishes!


The Museflower Project


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