Dear Spas: Love Letters From Your Spa-Goers

February is the month of love and in that spirit, we want to send a valentine out to our favorite place, the spa, and to the everyone there who make it a place of healing, well-being and serenity.

After years of visiting and spending some serious time in spas, we have our own set of observations and “do’s and don’t” requests for spa designers, service providers and practitioners. We started this site in part to let you know our thoughts on your facilities and operations, so that you could improve or enhance, and we could relax and heal under your guidance.

We understand that each spa is different, and while you are all committed to providing a unique experience devoted to health and well-being, there are certain things we’d like to see improved at spas in order for us to have the best experience possible. Spa-goers have their own set of pain points, if you will, and you have the power to alleviate them.

So we’d like to give you props for the things that you do well, and make some suggestions for where you can do things better from a spa-goer’s perspective.

First, congratulations for doing these things well:

  1. We love it when you hire people who care about providing great service in a spa. It helps us relax when we interact with people who understand that working in the spa industry isn’t just a job, but an intention-based service committed to personal health and well-being.  
  2. It makes our lives so much easier when your treatment menus and service offerings are readily available (physically in the spa or online), easily accessible (on your website), clear in their intentions, and have accurate descriptions — especially when the treatments are layered with multiple parts.

  3. Women appreciate it when you have lockers big enough to house all of our stuff – big purses, spa bags, shoes or boots, and clothes. Day spas tend to do this better than hotel spas, as hotel spas generally assume their spa-goers are also staying at the hotel. But we aren’t all hotel guests! It’s nice to be able to hang up our clothes and still have enough room to put a wet bathing suit while getting a treatment.

  4. Speaking of lockers, it’s great when you have those digipad keyless locks. It’s better to forget my code than lose your key.

  5. When we come to the spa for some quiet time, it’s great when you have a room dedicated to silence and quiet, and more importantly enforce that. I think quiet rooms are essential to the spa experience, as being still gets us calm and centered before a treatment, and continues the Zen after a service.

  6. Speaking of quiet, kudos to all the spas that have and enforce rules around quiet and silence. It’s good to see signs clearly indicating where we should talk in hushed tones, be silent, and make our cell phones silent and/or not use them.

  7. Enforcing quiet zones at Nordik Spa-Nature (Quebec, Canada) and the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (Ojai, California)

  8. The best combination treatments are those you think through carefully and plan well. When we have a scrub or a wrap, a bath, then a massage it’s so much more Zen when these are all seamlessly put together and we don’t have to get up and move around too much.

  9. Thanks for having a spotlessly clean spa and having spa attendants on staff to keep it that way, as well as ensuring that all of your stay toiletries well-stocked. We appreciate it when you’ve thought of providing the things we might need during our spa visit, and to help us get ready for our day or evening when we leave.

Now here are some ways we think you can improve:

  1. Please hire people who care about providing great service in a spa, and train them well in the kind of customer service you’d like to receive as a spa-goer. It helps if they are smart to begin with and come to their job knowing what customer service means in a place dedicated to health and wellness. Read our story on the misfortunes we’ve had at the spa (in particular the story involving the Standard Spa in Miami) to see what happens when you hire people from a certain age group lacking in this mindset to work the front desk.
  2. Could you please really think about the way that you present your service menu? First, and most importantly, accurate descriptions are essential for spa-goers. We like to be informed about how a treatment is going to go (especially if there are multiple parts), what you are going to be doing to our bodies, and what products you will be putting on us. Maybe you want us to call you for more information but in this day and age we shouldn’t have to do that. The second way you can improve in this regard is to present your menu as easily accessible text on your website. We shouldn’t have to open up a PDF to see what you offer. It’s not easy to scroll through a PDF meant for print to look for a treatment when you’re on a mobile device, just FYI.

  3. It really disrupts our Zen to be surprised during a treatment. Why would we be surprised? When there is a disconnect between what we read on the menu and what the therapist delivers, we are surprised. This has happened to us several times, particularly at the Ciel Spa in Las Vegas, the Spa Vitale in San Francisco, the Ojai Valley Inn Spa in Ojai, California and perhaps the worst one of all was at the Bathhouse at the Delano Las Vegas. And not only are we surprised, but we are disappointed. We leave the treatment disappointed that what we were expecting is not what we got, or we got something that we weren’t expecting. In each one of those spa visits mentioned above, the surprise and ensuing disappointment resulted in a spa experience that left us feeling like we wasted our time and money.

  4. There is one place inside a spa where Zen can be pretty hard to come by just by its very nature and that is the locker/changing area. Look, we know you want to dedicate a lot of your floor space to the more sexy parts of a spa like the wet areas, but this cramped locker room thing seriously has to be re-thought. One of the smallest locker rooms I’ve ever been in was at the Grapeseed Spa at the South Coast Resort & Winery in Temecula. Unfortunately on the day I visited, there were between five and 10 of us trying to change in what seemed like a 9’x9’ space with 20 lockers jammed in it. We were literally stepping on each other, and on each other’s stuff, barely fitting any of our belongings into the tiny lockers provided. Does this sound like a great start or finish to a day at the spa?

  5. Please don’t do this to us:

    Ridiculous locker key, Spa Gregorie’s, California

    I’ve had to carry around some big honking spa locker keys and I’m always amazed when spas hand me these stupid things and expect me to wear them. Or worse, carry them around when they don’t provide robes with pockets. Physical keys are so outdated and cumbersome. Would it not just be more cost-efficient in the long run to get digipads on all of your lockers? It’s a win-win for everyone: we don’t have to be responsible for your keys, you won’t lose any keys, and the worst that can happen is that we forget our code, which you can override anyways.
  6. If you are a full-service spa and don’t have a quiet room, can I ask: why don’t you? Isn’t this essential spa-going 101? And I shouldn’t have to differentiate between a quiet room and a lounge — when I say “quiet room” I mean those in which we as spa-goers can get some actual silence, from voices and from mobile devices. Really, all places in the spa should be quiet, not just one room with a sign designating it as such. But if you’re going to provide a full list of spa treatments that are geared towards mind-body well-being, then please have a place where we can escape to and not hear everyone else’s conversations. You can read about a couple of my unbelievable spa experiences where there was no escape in our Spa Misfortunes post, particularly the Burke Williams headache, and the Standard Miami debacle.

  7. If your spa isn’t spotlessly clean then please consider hiring a spa attendant or two to ensure that your spa is clean and tidy, as well as ensuring that all of your toiletries stay well-stocked. For many of us, especially women, there is nothing that puts us off a spa experience more than encountering something disgusting in the spa facilities, or not having what we need in the shower or at the sinks. We notice the long hairs in the sink, used brushes left out all over the place because there’s nowhere to put them, and the mess that some pig has left in the toilet. In short, we notice everything, and these can pretty much be deal-breakers when we decide whether or not to pay you another visit.

  8. Please please please think through and design your combination treatments carefully. Put some honest intention into them, visualize the end results and go through them yourself as a spa-goer. Put yourself in the stressed out spa-goer’s slippers, the “expert” spa-goer’s slippers, the cancer survivor’s slippers, the pregnant woman’s slippers. Think about what it would be like to get a super vigorous scrub and have water thrown on you over and over again. Go through the experience of getting a super relaxing scrub and then having to get up off the table onto a cold tile floor, to get into a shower and then laying back down for a massage. I could keep listing examples but you guys are the experts and you should know better than me and I shouldn’t have these examples in the first place.

  9. This should probably be number 1, but I guess I’ve saved the best for last: please don’t allow smoking at your spa. I can’t believe I even have to ask this. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Miami, Paris or any other place where most of the population is addicted to cancer sticks. As far as I’m concerned, you should not be allowed to label your establishment a spa if you allow cigarette smoke anywhere near your spa and your guests.

All we want is a seamless, pleasant, and relaxing experience from start-to-finish when we visit your spa. We’re trusting you with our bodies and our well-being, and we just hope that everyone we encounter in your spa honors and respects that.


About the Author

Spa Pro
This spa-loving mystery woman has been going to the spa for 10+ years, and has had therapeutic treatments like massages for over 20 years. Her ideal spa day would include stretchy time in the sauna, a sugar scrub, followed by 2-hour massage and ending with some meditative time by the ocean.

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