We've all been there. You walk into a new experience & haven't a clue what to do... If you're new to massage therapy or receiving spa treatments, here are some tips on what is "normal"
Whether you're in a chiropractic office, wellness center or spa, you will usually 'check-in' at the front desk. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early upon your first visit, as occasionally they'll have you fill out a health history or something similar. If you're anywhere near as accident-prone as I've been, this can process can take longer than expected!
Many spas will have changing rooms where you can store your clothing and borrow a robe. If it's important to you to have a shower available before or after your treatment, feel free to phone ahead & check if they have one, as not all places do. We spa practitioners love clean people. Love 'em! We know sometimes you're racing straight out of work or off the trail to your session, but if it's at all possible to sneak in a rinse, by all means go for it... believe me, we appreciate it!
Try to use your treatment time as a sanctuary from work & other obligations as much as possible. Toward that end, bury that cell phone and disappear for that hour!
Cancellations: we know that life sometimes throws us curves and we need to reschedule a session. Many spas have a cancellation policy & they will bill you for missed appointments or late cancels, so you might want to find out ahead of time if that is a concern for you....
To tip or not to tip? When you're at a spa or resort, it's pretty customary to tip 15-20% of your service, and most places will allow you to add a gratuity onto your credit slip. Sometimes, for tax purposes, businesses will accept practitioner gratuities in cash only.
Many of my clients ask if it is normal to tip an independent practitioner?? --- for example, if you go to a massage therapist's home or office for your appointment. In this case it is completely at your (the client's) discretion. It's akin to tipping your hair stylist who happens to own their salon - it's totally up to you & your budget!
Among all the massage therapists & spa owners I've known over the years, one of the best compliments we can possibly receive from our clients is the knowledge that we make a difference in their lives. Sometimes just hearing how fantastic you feel after a session is the best tip of all!
That whole tipping issue is one of the reasons I don't get massages more frequently. I have a choice of holistic treatments and massage just ends up being so much more expensive with the gratuity added on top. I would rather just pay a flat fee for something. It'd almost make more sense to me if they just added the tip into the cost, but if they did that, then we'd all see that some of those high-end spas are in fact charging $180 for a session instead of $150. Too rich for my blood, sorry. But maybe someday when I have more disposable cash I won't care so much. Until then, I tend to go to these places when I've been given a gift certificate. (And even THEN you still have to pay tip sometimes! Argh!)
For an extra relaxing experience, take care of your gratuities BEFORE your treatment. Then, in the case of a manicure, you don't have to mess up your nails. After massages, don't you want to prolong the cloudy/cloud 9 feeling? You definitely want to tip well if you will be seeing that practitioner again!
Apart from etiquette and showing your appreciation, tipping also ensures you continue to receive that little extra in terms of service, especially if it is a something where you would go back - like a spa or a massage therapist.
...to me, UNLESS the practitioner owns their own practice and is getting the entire fee that you pay, which is a little different from a massage therapist working at someone else's establishment. For me, tipping is about service, but it's also a nice gesture that signifies the person getting the service understands that it's also an important part of the practitioner's income. I have to admit that I'm more prone to tipping someone who doesn't own their own practice, but I always try to tip as much as I can, wherever I go. The thing is that if you're getting a $150 massage, 20 percent of that fee is $30, which can be expensive for somebody who doesn't customarily get that kind of treatment. But it's also a service just like any other, and appreciative gratuities are important to me.