After visiting day spas all over the world, I constantly see things which aren’t helpful in welcoming and attracting guests. Your day spa booking and visit should be the most relaxing experience in the world but often it feels far too hard.

Trying to understand a day spa menu, working out what to wear and deciding which treatment you’ll enjoy can be frustrating.

This guide is aimed at helping you understand the protocol so you have a better day spa experience.

1. What is a day spa?

Just the word ‘spa’ can be confusing because some beauty salons, and even dentists, call themselves spas.

Traditionally, the term spa means ‘partaking of waters’ and came from ancient Roman times, when people didn’t have their own bathroom so went to communal bathing houses. The communal baths, or spas, were enjoyed by men and women with attendants on hand to care for body, hair and wellbeing. Part of the ancient experience was to enjoy the social side of coming together to relax and be cared for.

The spa was, and still is, a place where others care for you at your leisure. They’re the ideal place to practice selfcare or book a day spa retreat for a mini wellcation. Although the words ‘day spa’ suggest that there should be a spa bath, not all day spas have baths. However, all day spas should focus on caring for your wellbeing and that’s what our modern understanding of a day spa is. A day spa is simply a place where you go to relax while other people take care of you.

A day spa is simply a place where you go to relax while other people take care of your health and wellbeing.

2. What’s the difference between a day spa and a salon?

Basically, you go to a day spa for an experience and to a salon for an appointment.

Day spas are built to exude luxury. They should have a unique, professional environment which is dedicated to providing a tranquil experience.

Every day spa has its own style and relaxation areas where visitors can spend time before or after treatments.

While some day spas offer water facilities, others offer sound therapy or silent rooms free of technology. Ikatan Day Spa in Noosa is surrounded by tropical gardens because being surrounded by nature has a profound and positive effect on wellbeing.

The moment you enter a day spa you should feel calmer. It’s about being in a space where you can escape from the outside world to be silently transported to another place. The staff will help facilitate that by making sure you have a special experience before, during and after spa treatments.

At ikatan, one therapist is dedicated to looking after each visitor before, during and after treatments. There’s no chatting during treatments or selling of product after treatments to ensure a restful experience.

3. How is booking at a day spa different from booking a restaurant?

At a restaurant, you decide what to have from the food and beverage menu after you arrive. At a day spa, you need to book before hand due to restrictions on time frame, therapist availability and specialities and room allocations.

When day spa reception staff are making a booking, they’re looking for an available space or room for the treatment you want. But before they can find a booking availability they need to know when you want to come and how many people are coming with you.

4. Why are day spa menus hard to understand?

Day spa treatment menus can be lengthy and overly descriptive. They shouldn’t be hard to understand but a lot of them are. Sometimes it’s hard to know what the treatment involves.

If you’ve ever had trouble deciphering a spa menu you’re not alone. I write spa menus for my own day spa in Noosa and for other day spas, and even I find some spa menus hard to understand. Many menus read like a fairy tale story, full of adjectives to describe aromas and whimsical relaxation techniques. I find this is hard work, stressful and confusing.

If you can’t understand what the treatment involves then it’s probably because the menu is badly written.

5. What’s a spa package?

Spa packages usually consist of two or more combined treatments that compliment each other and flow from one treatment to the next, giving a longer, more relaxing experience. Sometimes other services are offered and food and drinks are often packaged up with treatments to extend spa relaxation time.

At ikatan, as well as offering set spa packages we also offer personalised bespoke packages if we don’t already have a package that includes the treatments a guest is looking for. Being flexible helps our guests combine treatments to suit their preferences.

TIP: If you can’t understand, find or decide what treatment you want, just give the spa reception staff, a rough idea of what you’d like. For example, maybe you need a massage, don’t want a pedicure but would like to try a facial. That information will help spa receptionists to recommend package options or day spa pampering ideas suit your needs.

6. How should I make a day spa booking?

Booking in advance is best, but if there’s a cancellation you’ll often get lucky by booking at the last minute, so you may as well ask. Working out a basic idea of the treatments, package or amount of time you want to spend before calling or emailing will help reception staff offer you a booking faster.

Knowing what you don’t want is also useful for spa staff. If you’re interested in a certain price, package or treatment, or want to experience something different, it will help reception staff suggesting the perfect experience for you.

Emailing your booking through an online booking system is convenient for after hours bookings or if you’re at work, but it can take time to hear back from a busy spa which gets a lot of online bookings. Even when the spa does reply fast, by the time you reply someone else may have called and taken the booking. It’s unfortunate but there’s no way around it because day spas do not hold online bookings without confirmation details.

TIP: Phone bookings are best! Calling the day spa during business hours is the fastest way to book, ask questions and get advice as well as confirm your booking immediately. If you’re in a hurry ask the receptionist to suggest popular package options.

7. What if you don’t have time to read the spa treatment menu?

I find many people are so busy they don’t have time to read through the treatments listed on a spa menu, even though it’s available online. This in itself is proof you need to visit a day spa!

Good spas will understand that you’re time poor and need to escape a busy life. At ikatan, we’re constantly expanding our reception team so we can spend more time advising and caring for our guests from the first point of contact.

TIP:  Most day spas will be happy to block out spa time for you provided you give details to secure the booking. So don’t be afraid to call the day spa and secure a booking even if you haven’t had time to read the spa menu yet. Once you’ve booked and the date is locked in, you can enjoy looking at the treatment menu when you have a few minutes to spare and call or email to confirm the treatment you’ve chosen when you’re ready.

8. What if I have to cancel my appointment?

Read the day spa cancellation policy when you book as every spa will have a different policy.

Be aware that your treatment time has been reserved especially for you. If you need to reduce the treatment time, reschedule or cancel your appointment, you usually need to give 24 hours notice. If you arrive late or reduce the treatment time by changing your mind on arrival, then the day spa has the right to charge you the full amount.

9. What do I need to bring to a day spa?

Day spas have everything you need for treatments and time out in relaxation areas. If you go to a day spa with pool facilities, you’ll need swim wear, but towels, robes and slipper should be supplied.

It’s always a good idea to bring something warm to pop on after treatments and wear slip on sandals if you’re having a pedicure.

Some day spas like ikatan offer complimentary makeup application after spa treatments. This gives our guests sun protection as they relax in the garden with a pot of tea or glass of champagne after treatments and ensures they look their best for photos in the gardens.

10. What shouldn’t I bring to a day spa?

Leave your cigarettes, babies, children and pets behind and put your mobile devices on silent flight mode. That’s the policy at most day spas to ensure deep relaxation.

Leaving babies and children means you can relax without being responsible for a child. It’s not fair to other guests or young children to expect them to be quiet as is required at a day spa.

Day spa staff cannot act as babysit because they do not hold a blue card. Even if the children are older, day spa staff can’t be responsible for kids as they’re busy attending to guests. In any case, spa reception and lounge areas are for day spa guests to relax in and not a place to leave children unattended.

That’s why most day spas have a no children under the age of 16 policy.

The main day spa market is for busy mums escaping children, couples having a romantic escape and guests recovering from illness or stress. People visit a day spa for tranquillity without children and they’re one of the few places where you can escape your own kids without having to listen to other people’s!

Some day spas offer mums and bubs days which is a fantastic idea allowing other guests to book on a day when there are no children around.

11. What if I’m sick?

Clients suffering from colds, flu or viral infections should not have treatments at a day spa. Nor should people who are intoxicated.

It’s inadvisable for your own health to have treatments while unwell and unsafe for staff and other guests sharing the same facilities.

Please be thoughtful and cancel your spa booking if you’re ill and could be infectious as you may be sitting in reception with another guest who’s pregnant or undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy making them more susceptible to infection.

12How early can I arrive for my day spa booking?

Arrive early so you can start to relax before your treatment and leave time after treatments to allow you to slowly return to the real world that awaits you.

Give yourself ample time to drive to the day spa and find a parking space. It takes so much longer to relax someone whose mind is racing after arriving late for their booking.

It’s better to arrive too early than too late. Your spa therapist prepares your treatment before you arrive so that everything is ready for you. If you arrive late or decide to change your treatments on arrival, then your treatment will have to be cut short.

TIP: Check google maps for directions well in advance of your spa booking and allow for traffic.

I believe a day spa is also about the little things that make a big difference to your experience, from the first point of contact, during your treatments and throughout the visit. Feeling like you don’t want to leave, is the best compliment our guests give us.

Now you know the tips and tricks to getting what you want from a day spa experience.

Do you feel more confident about booking a day spa now?