By Trudy Albert
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, we have little time to spare and convenience is especially important. Today, day spas are conveniently located within most neighbourhoods. If you are visiting the city, you will want to find reviews or identify a popular day spa as an indication that its services and facilities are satisfactory to most clients. You may also find a professional mobile spa and discover the perfect union of luxurious therapies infused with the intimacy, convenience and comfort of home.
The ambience, aroma and tranquility of the spa experience should immediately transport you into a world of calm. An hour of pampering yourself by getting a pedicure, manicure or massage may be all it takes to rejuvenate and renew.
With a surge in popularity and the number of day spas available in most cities, competition has driven prices down which has made the day spa experience accessible to most social classes. Going to the spa is no longer just for the rich and elite, and today’s “budget minded” consumers are looking for a little indulgence at an affordable price. This has forced many day spas to offer considerable discounts and deals, further forcing down prices. But you should be leery of very cheap offers. In order to keep costs well below the competition, some establishments may be compromising hygiene, be using sub-standard practices or may not have professionally qualified staff.
Health and Safety/Hygiene
Scope out the joint. Ask for a tour of the facility and find out about the different treatments on the menu. Be sure to examine the cleanliness and don’t be afraid to ask about their sanitation policies and practices. They should have their policies clearly posted, available for viewing on their website or at least be able to provide you with a copy if requested. It is sometimes hard to imagine a luxurious day spa that, on the surface looks so beautiful and serene, could have bacteria and germs lurking in every corner. For example, jet foot baths seem to add a luxurious touch, but they may be harbouring a colony of germs. Pay attention to cleanliness of the floors, washrooms, work stations, linens and slippers. Something as simple as dishes being hand washed by staff may not provide a proper washing.
Bacteria, fungal and viral infections will contaminate products, tools and surfaces so it is imperative that sterilization and disinfection protocols be in place and followed closely. Staff must be attentive and thoroughly examine clients’ nails and skin prior to providing a service. For instance, nail fungus is highly contagious and applying a nail polish to an infected nail will contaminate the entire bottle. This could easily spread the infection to subsequent users. A highly trained professional will be able to identify possible nail infections and refrain from using a polish that will be shared with other customers. Be aware that there are some establishments that choose to assume a higher risk for causing or spreading infection by engaging in practices such as using credo blades and working too aggressively on cuticles or ingrown toenails.
Other things to look for are clean uniforms and that practitioners wash their hands before and after performing any service.
Health and medical information
Client information forms should be completed at your initial visit to a spa and updated at your regular appointments. Some medicines and health conditions may contradict with certain spa services, therefore it is important that practitioners review and be aware of your medical history prior to your selected services being performed. Based on your medical information, a qualified professional may suggest alternative treatments or even have to refuse certain treatments for your safety.
Reviews and Testimonials
It is great to know when a business gets the majority of their business through repeat customers and referrals. This is a good indication that they provide quality services and that clients are generally satisfied. But if you don’t have a referral to go on and if you are trying a place for the first time, it is useful to seek out on-line reviews and testimonials. There are several on-line review forums and some businesses ask clients to provide reviews and testimonials to judge where improvements could be made. This is a good starting point, however be aware of bogus testimonials. Also, if a business has received a high majority of good reviews with only a couple of unsatisfied customers, it is important to remember that it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time. With a little homework, you can feel a little more confident that you have chosen the right spa and then base it on your own experience.
Products and Services
Of paramount importance is that the therapists and aestheticians who practice at the spa be certified and qualified for the job. Professionally qualified staff will be able to identify skin and nail problems, identify any counter indications, communicate this information to the customer without making a medical diagnosis, and advise the customer of how and if they will be proceeding with the services. There are unlimited product lines out there, and spas should only provide its customers with effective treatments using products that are of the highest quality. It is the spa management’s responsibility to ensure that staff is provided the appropriate and ongoing training for the product lines being used and kept up to date on industry news.
Qualified and knowledgeable staff is more likely to be friendly and unpretentious when suggesting treatment options, describing the benefits of the different treatments, and suggesting retail products for home use. They will also suggest specific treatments that can be added to your treatments to enhance your spa experience or provide an added benefit. These are referred to as add-ons in the industry. However, it is wise to be cautious of gimmicky services that overly promise results. These costs can add up, and as the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Part of the spa experience should be meeting friendly staff that make it appear as though they have been looking forward to meeting you and providing your services. Staff should introduce themselves, take your lead in the amount of conversation, and be respect of confidentiality. It is never appropriate for a practitioner to complain about their workplace or discuss their personal problems. Therapist should be with their client at all times, enhancing the service and ensuring your safety.
In conclusion, I certainly do not want to steer anyone away from enjoying the wonderful and rejuvenating experience the day spa has to offer. Having been in the beauty industry for going on 25 years, I have a true passion for what I do and thoroughly believe in the well-being that comes with taking care of oneself. I simply want to raise awareness of the importance of seeking out truly professional services and high quality standards.
About the Author Trudy Albert has been in the beauty business for over 25 years. After first training as a make-up artist she became a professional esthetician. She then started her own esthetic salon and now focuses on serving the residents of the Ottawa-Gatineau with a mobile spa. The mobile spa allows people to enjoy spa treatments in the comfort of their own home and is perfect for people who have limited mobility.