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6 Signs Of a Very (Very, Very) Bad Hotel Spa

July 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM | by | ()

Hotels have been very keen on hotel spas in recent years--whether opening their own full-blown facilities with a dozen treatment rooms and exotic therapies or simply having one or two treatment rooms available with the basic rub-downs all travelers need. But just because a hotel might be five-star, doesn't mean its spa is. We told you what to look for in a very good spa. Now, here's what to steer clear of in a bad spa.

It’s mind-boggling how many five-star hotel spas miss out on those 6 signs of a very good spa that we shared this week. The rule is simple: if you’re at a five-star hotel, then your spa should be five-star as well. .

Now, here are the 6 telltale signs that a hotel spa isn’t quite deserving of its reputation.

1. No one at reception
Just like at the hotel reception, there should be someone at the spa reception at all times to welcome guests. A warm welcome is key in creating the best possible guest experience. Entering a space you’ve never been before (with probably lots of naked people inside) is already a daunting experience, and guests should not be kept waiting. We’ve also seen spas where the staff have a serious addiction to their cell phones. No hotel staff should ever be seen within 50 meters of their personal phone. This looks sloppy and makes guests feel like they are interrupting when staff should be attentive at all times.

2. No health consultation
First and foremost, each guest should be given a form to complete with any injuries or illnesses the therapist should be made aware of. In very high-end spas, the therapist takes a few minutes prior to the treatment to run through the general state of the guest’s body and which parts they would like to focus on. Following this consultation, a form is usually filled in and signed by the guest. Not only is this form a disclaimer for the spa but it is essential for the guest too. All too often therapists omit asking the guest about the state of their body, which is a little worrying considering how a massage can do further damage to an injury.

3. Chaos in the changing rooms
Some spa changing rooms look like a hen-do of about 20 crazed women just left. We once stepped inside a changing room where there were dirty towels strewn everywhere, used cups and random plates from the spa bar on the dressing tables, slippers askew all around towel bins and crumpled lipstick-stained tissues all around the wash basin. When a guest walks into a five-star spa changing room, towels and toiletries should be aligned and fully stocked. Each guest should feel like they are the only one to have stepped over the threshold that week.

4. Grimy and dirty facilities
At a luxury spa, guests expect to feel like a million dollars. If the floors are muddy, the toilets are grimy or if lotion is all over the door handle, it can shatter the relaxing experience. And if the rest of the spa looks like that, one can only imagine what horrors await in the steam room and sauna where people sit and sweat out their toxins. Slippers should always be given at a spa for safety and hygienic purposes. A sign that an attendant is on watch is that the last sheet of toilet paper is always folded in a triangle.

5. Torn bathrobes and towels
Who wants to put on a bathrobe that is ripped to shreds? No one. Bathrobes don't just pamper guests, they denote the standard of the spa. Every bathrobe should be of the same style, in a size that fits the guest – no guest wants to have to squeeze into a bathrobe they can’t quite close or that trails along the floor when they walk. Bathrobes, like towels, should be crisp and look brand new, which means no holes, no top pockets with stitching coming undone and no fraying belts.

6. No real waiting area
Padding around the changing rooms in snug bathrobes and slippers, guest should either be fetched from the dressing rooms when it is time for their massage or they can wait in a comfortable relaxing space. We once found ourselves wrapped in a cozy bathrobe (pockets, belts and all) but placed in a dark corner of a spa facing a wall without even a glass of water or a magazine to read. Even after asking to wait in the relaxation area visible from our seat instead, we were denied the privilege. It’s not that we’re fussy, but a relaxing space to wait is a part of the entire experience. Instead of being made to feel like Cleopatra before her milk bath, we felt more like naughty children on the naughty step. And this was at a five-star hotel.

[Photo: Flickr]

Have your own Best and Worst Hotel Spa stories to share? Sound off in comments below!

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