Spa Smarts - 8 tips to get the most of any spa treatment

5-Star Spas is a group of top-notch spas that have gone through a rigorous inspection and accreditation process, so that clients can trust that their needs and desires – whether for well-being, anti-aging or technologically advanced skin care – will be met. Liz Conway, registrar of Five Star Spas, offers tips to ensure you get the most out of any spa treatment. 


“When you make the appointment, ask questions such as, ‘Are robes and slippers supplied?   Should I bring a swimsuit? Find out what personal amenities are available – everything from shampoo to sunscreen,”  


One hallmark of a reputable spa is membership in a spa association. Members of Five Star Spas, for example, are inspected a minimum of every 18 months to check on over 300 quality standards – everything from the size of treatment rooms, staff qualifications and sanitation protocols to whether the towels are fluffy enough and all of the equipment is in proper working order. Ask about staff qualifications. If massage therapists are registered (that is, they have an RMT designation), it means they have not only received intensive training, but can provide reimbursable receipts for a medical benefits plan. Reputable spas require clients complete a health assessment form prior to treatment. Some establishments go even further, requiring that therapists sign that they have read it. If you haven’t been asked to complete a form, be sure to tell the therapist or aesthetician about any pre-existing conditions such as recent surgery or diabetes. 


For a day spa, arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your appointment so you can complete the health history form, enjoy the amenities and relax.  If you are running late, your treatment will still end at the appointed time, and you could leave feeling frazzled and short-changed. 


Come prepared not only to relax and enjoy, but make the most of the experience.  “Check your cell phone at the door,” recommends Liz Conway.  “Treatment time is your time.  Don’t hesitate to gently but firmly tell a chit chatty employee that you prefer just to listen to the music, unless he or she needs to explain a procedure to you.”


If you are having a facial avoid – if possible - wearing makeup both before and after. Ideally, don’t wash your hair or shower immediately after a scalp treatment or a massage. Let the massage oil work its magic for a few hours. 


Find out if there are extras such as a whirlpool, swimming pool, sauna or gym and relaxing lounge so you can extend the experience and its benefits. Is there a café or restaurant should you decide to make a day of it and wish to have lunch? Allow at least half an hour to relax after you’ve finished your treatment(s) so you can melt into a comfy lounge chair with a cup of tea before re-entering the real world. Consider getting a ride home instead of having to cope with stressful city traffic. Planning an out-of-town spa visit? Find out whether the spa offers transportation from a train or bus station, to save having to drive.  


“Because a spa experience is such a wonderful way to de-stress,” says Natalie Roy, spa director at Spa Eastman, Canada’s first destination health spa in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, “enjoy it with someone you love.”  


Spas that cater to men’s wellness and problematic skin care needs with specially developed treatment protocols and products confirm that men comprise 40% of their clientele. Christina McDougall, spa director at Toronto’s renowned Old Mill Inn & Spa reports that the latest spa renovation was undertaken to accommodate demand for couples’ (side-by-side) treatments. “After men are introduced to spa treatments by their significant others, they are comfortable rebooking for themselves. As a result, we’ve created packages uniquely for men.”