The Beginners’ Guide to Spa

Spa Guide

So, what is ‘spa’?

If you google it, or flip some textbooks, you will get the boring and typical stuff like spa is derived from the Latin term “Salus Per Aquam”, spa is “healing through water”… but if you ask me, spa is simply a necessary indulgence in life. Gone are the days when we only pay our masseur a visit once a year (or two); gone are the days when spa is so unreachable that only the rich and famous can enjoy.

Today, as we live in a cosmopolitan world and deal with so much stress, a spa session is very much needed and essential for our health and well-being. And with the spa scene around the world evolving and always scaling new highs, you will only be spoilt with options. Here is a Beginners Guide to Spa where we talk more about some of the basic spa etiquettes and various treatments.

Spa Lounge

Basic Spa Etiquettes:

1. Always reach 20mins earlier to check in, and to allow yourself ample time to familiarize with the facility, change and prep yourself with a cup of pre-treatment tea (usually hot ginger tea).

2. Don’t show up at a spa all sweaty from a gym session; it won’t be nice for both you and the therapist. Take a shower before your treatment if needed.

3. It is always courteous to keep your underwear on. Most treatments will require you to be almost naked, but will never need you to remove your underwear – especially the males.

4. You are there to relax and unwind. Keep your devices in the locker provided, or if you really need your phone, switch it to silent mode.

5. Communication is important. Tell your therapist your area(s) of concern, your pain tolerance, your preferred style(s) and whatnot. But just a note to not expect miracles, because even the most expensive treatment won’t restore you completely after just one session.


Types of Treatments:

1. Body Wrap – A form of mask to detox and/or hydrate, depending on the ingredients used. A mixture will be slathered all over your body, then literally have you wrapped for 20mins before you rinse off. Common ingredients used are seaweed, mud, shea butter and eucalyptus.

2. Body Scrub – An exfoliation process that leaves your skin glowing and boosts blood circulation. This treatment will be done with you lying on the treatment bed, intermittently but properly covered with towels while the therapist scrubs both sides of your body before you rinse off. Common ingredients used are salt and sugar in different scents.

3. Balneotherapy (or Baths) – A wet treatment that involves water, either hot or cold. No therapist is needed for this process – you soak in a special bath tub with water that is rich in salts that has healing properties, and the massage is done through the whirlpool current water to promote stimulation and relaxation.

4. Hot Stone – Typically a complement to your choice of massage, Hot Stone treatment aids in treating specific ailments such as a sore back or fatigued muscles. The stones are heated and placed on your pressure points/ areas of concern with a coat of essential oil, but do speak up if the heat is too much to bear. Also, if you are pregnant or have a sunburn, avoid this treatment.

5. Facial – There is always a list of facials to choose from, depending on your skin conditions and targeted result(s). Usually beginning with a consultation, your therapist will assess your skin before recommending you the treatment(s). And a typical facial session includes a thorough cleanse, an exfoliation and/or mask, massage and moisturizing.

6. Massage – Probably everyone’s favourite when we visit a spa, massage promotes relaxation and well-being through healing touches of the masseur. Different methods of kneading that can be applied with the hands, elbows, knees and even feet. The variations is aplenty, but for a start, if you are looking for a relaxing and soft massage that will send you to slumber, the common ones are Swedish, Aromatherapy and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage. For the ones with higher tolerance for pain, opt for the Javanese and Thai. And for targeted concerns, there are choices that will cater to your preferred focal points, such as the Sports Massage, Shiatsu Focus and Lymphatic Drainage Massage.

With this, I hope you have gained a better understanding of what to expect and to prep you with some basic information so as to better choose a suitable treatment.

And if you need some recommendations, here are some spa articles that we have written in the past few months, featuring a range of affordable day spas to luxury spas to spas in the region.

Words by Melody Yap