An escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, a diversion from everyday life or a tranquil retreat: all are common descriptions of a day at the spa, yet, for some, the thought of visiting a spa provokes more anxiety than tranquility. With worried queries about everything from spa etiquette to choice of treatment arising even before the appointment is booked. These concerns not only provoke unnecessary stress before a visit, but also deter many potential spa-goers from what could otherwise be the ultimate relaxation experience. 
Spa Mind clarifies some common misconceptions and offers tips on how to get the full benefit from your next spa experience.


Pre-spa:
Do your research
Whether it is online or via word of mouth, be sure to choose the spa that is right     for you.  Facilities vary greatly as some spas are fully equipped with experience showers, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and hamman, while others are treatment-only, geared towards on-the-go patrons who want to stop in for a quick massage and continue their day. 
Choose your treatment wisely
There are many treatments to choose from including facials, body scrubs, and massages.  In addition, spas usually offer packages that include a combination of treatments tailored to your needs.  Book the treatment that achieves the results you desire.
Book your appointment in advance
Leave your baubles behind
Not only does it get in the way of your therapist, but you also risk losing your precious gems.  Although most spas provide lockers for personal items, they are   not responsible for anything that goes missing.
Resist the urge to spray on your favourite perfume
Most treatment rooms are scented with candles or spray and therapists use aromatic oils or lotions during treatment.  Mixing scents is a recipe for disaster. 
Balance your appetite
Sensible eating before going to the spa is tricky and extremely important.  Eating   too much can cause discomfort during your treatment, while not eating enough can cause your growling stomach to break the tranquil silence in your treatment room. 
Get there early enough to get the most out of your experience
Depending on what the spa has to offer, it is best to arrive early so that you have   time to get acquainted and make use of the spa facilities.  If facilities are extensive, allot approximately one hour to ensure you don’t miss anything.  Otherwise, fifteen to twenty minutes should be enough time to change, relax for a few minutes, and get you treatment started.
At the spa:
Leave your mobile in your locker
You – and other spa-goers – are looking to de-stress, not to take conference calls   or chat.
Spa facilities can seem overwhelming 
If a sauna, steam room or hammam is available, take advantage of them before your scheduled treatment for a complete spa experience.  Use heat-based facilities for ten minute intervals with cool shower breaks in between to eliminate toxins and top off with a cold plunge to firm and re-energize the skin. Immediately before your treatment, take some time to relax and replenish lost fluids with tea or water. Be sure to pack a swimsuit in case of common facilities.
Wear whatever makes you comfortable during the treatment
It is said that the less you wear, the more relaxed and unrestricted you feel, but there is no reason to bare-all if you feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you are covered with a towel or sheet during the treatment and your therapist only uncovers the part of your body being worked on. 
Let your therapist know of any sensitive areas before getting started
Post-spa:
Take your spa experience home
Ask your therapist about the products and techniques used during your treatment. Spa products are normally available for purchase.


Toula Victor, Spa Go-er
1 July 2010 

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