Spa 101: Tips for the Newbie


Spas. They’re supposed to be relaxing and peaceful sanctuaries, but if you’re a first-timer and aren’t sure how to act, you could find the experience stressful instead.

A lot of people think twice about having a treatment and shy away from going altogether.

But you don’t want to be a spa virgin forever. Receiving a spa treatment (especially in the midst of the hustle and bustle in Vegas) can be the ultimate remedy to your action-packed vacation. So fear not – after reading our helpful spa tips, even the most apprehensive person will be rushing to the massage table. You’ll be spa savvy in no time.

Lesson 1: Communication is key
Never been to a spa? Feel weird about stripping down, having someone touch you and putting your complete trust in a stranger? We don’t blame you one bit. But your first visit doesn’t have to be terrifying at all.

“Typically, the first introduction is that [guests] speak with our receptionist,” said Michelle Wilkos, director at the spa and salon at Aria. “The receptionist will prepare them with the details so they can have a great experience. They’ll give them information about our offerings and what would fit their needs while they’re here at our spa.”

Once you meet your spa therapist, make sure you’re open with any health concerns. If you’re getting a massage, it’s completely fine (and encouraged) to tell them which spots need the most concentration.

“Going to a spa is one of the most pleasurable things [so] don’t feel shy about asking,” said Elizabeth Levy,
recreation services supervisor for Nurture Spa and Salon at Luxor.

“Massage therapists are happy to educate you if you have special issues to discuss. [Don’t] be afraid
to ask questions.”


Nurture Spa and Salon at Luxor, courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Let’s say your spa service is at 2 p.m. and the person who booked your appointment told you to arrive early. Showing up 10 minutes before your treatment time isn’t considered
early at the spa.

If you show up at least 45 minutes to an hour before your service, you can indulge in all the luxuries a spa has to offer, allowing you to put your mind at ease before your service.

“Allow time to enjoy the facilities before and after the service,” Chrystal King, director of Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Palace recommended. “You’ll get so much more from a treatment. Your spa experience should be about more than just the treatment. It can be a day experience if you allow.”

Once you arrive, the spa attendant will give you a tour of the facility. From here, you can enjoy the steam room, sauna and spa tubs. Some feel comfortable entering the spa tubs and plunge pools in the nude, but plenty wear a bathing suit. Make sure to bring your suit so you feel you don’t have to miss out on this amenity.

You’ll also have time to shower before your service (recommended before any treatment), plop down on one of the couches in the waiting room and enjoy a nap.

If you’re a little hungry, spas provide fruit, a variety of tea, chilled water and other light snacks. Just make sure you don’t eat too much, especially if your service is more than an hour long.

“If you’re going to eat a big meal, eat afterwards because you’ll end up being uncomfortable on the treatment table,” Wilkos said.

Also, the last thing you want to do is jump right into your robe and go into your treatment, feeling rushed and frazzled. In addition, if you end up running late, most spas cannot accommodate the extra time if guests are booked behind you.


Tops and Tails massage at Qua Baths & Spa inside Caesars Palace

If this is your first time in a spa, you have every reason to feel shy. After all, you’re wearing nothing but a robe. While it’s usually recommended that you strip down (the therapist leaves the room so you can remove the robe and go under the sheets), you can keep your undergarments on if it makes you more comfortable. However, the therapist practices special draping techniques so you don’t have to feel awkward.

“We recommend that the guest will get the best experience fully unclothed, but we can certainly work around undergarments if they choose to keep them on,” Wilkos said. “[Guests] are also professionally draped privately in their treatment room so their body isn’t exposed, just the area in which they’re working on.”

If you absolutely need to keep your clothes on, there’s an option of getting a massage fully clothed. “We have treatment options [at Qua] that allow guests to stay clothed,” said King. “Thai massage and “Tops and Talls” are two experiences that are clothed.”

Also, you may want to consider keeping your treatment as simple as possible. “I recommend it,” Wilkos said. “It has the least amount of protocols involved, where it’s giving you a simple experience like a Swedish massage or European facial.”

Once the service begins, all you have to worry about is keeping all your muscles relaxed so you can get the most out of you experience.

Lesson 4: The dos and don’ts with spas and alcohol

Even if you plan on partying the night before, that’s no excuse to skip the spa. Many spas offer hangover treatments like scalp massages and reflexology, which corresponds to different parts of the body. Detoxifying treatments are also ideal.

“That’ll take out all of the impurities out of your body that you experienced the night before,” Wilkos suggested. “We also recommend hydrating while you’re going through your detox.”

“You can never go wrong with a Vichy treatment,” added King. “It has light detox properties and the
water massage is just what you need to soothe and calm your body after an indulgent evening.”

But as far as drinking goes, indulging right before a service (like at the pool, restaurant or bar) is a big spa no-no. “[Since] massages increase circulation, you’ll feel more intoxicated,” warned Levey.

And while feeling more intoxicated might excite some people, partaking in drinking right before a treatment is guaranteed to make you feel dizzy and possibly faint. “Alcohol is not recommended before any type of spa treatment or being in any type of heated environment,” said Wilkos.

“If you’re going to drink alcohol and exposed to any type of heated environment, you’ll definitely be dehydrated.

“A steam room or sauna would not be recommended to go into if you were drinking alcohol,” she continued. “We recommend that you hydrate before you even go in there.”


Aria Spa and Salon, courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Lesson 5: After your treatment

You might feel a bit light-headed after your treatment (especially after getting up from the treatment table), and that’s expected. Just remember to also drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated.

After your treatment, all you have to worry about is relaxing and a nap. In fact, a nap is strongly encouraged. A lot of spas have lavender pillows, heated neck pillows and blankets upon request. This is your chance to sprawl out and fully take in the heavenly treatment you just experienced.

Some spas also have spa suites, where you can just rest, relax and lounge for as long as you like. Service providers cater to your every need, offering everything from smoothies to light fare.

“When you just want to be around your friends or family, [this] allows you to do that,” said Wilkos.

Once you’ve come back to reality, spas have all the toiletries and tools that you’ll need to get ready.

This includes hair products, blow dryers, straightening and curling irons, make-up remover, lotion and mouthwash, to name a few. If you plan on taking a shower after your service, each shower provides shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Some spas, like Canyon Ranch SpaClub at Venetian and the spa at Mandarin Oriental, feature showers with aromatherapy and lighting effects.

Typically, if you had a service that included a rich moisturizing lotion (or a delicious-smelling one) application or a facial, you wouldn’t need to shower, or go in the steam room, sauna or spa tub afterward. For a facial, you’ll want to give the products a chance to penetrate your skin.

Once you’re ready to leave, this would be the perfect time to leave a gratuity for your therapist. After you pay for your treatment, ask the receptionist or spa attendant for a tipping envelope. However, some guests like to bring the gratuity and place it in the pocket of their robe before meeting the therapist. This way, they can hand the tip to the therapist in person directly after the service.

Of course, it would be ideal to just sleep the rest of the day away when you leave the spa, but since you are in Vegas, you’ll end up going out and partying the night away. At least your mind, body and spirit will be fully relaxed and ready for the world. Now that you’re a spa expert, you can convince your friends there’s really no reason to be shy after all.

“This is all about you and your personal service,” said King. “We all need time to relax or enjoying that peaceful moment.”

Check out our spa tips page as well as a listing of spas on the Strip.


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.