Spa Pet Peeves

  • Posted on May 29, 2013 at 2:33 am
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Today’s post focuses on spa pet peeves, highlighting spa and massage clients who have had less-than-amazing experiences. My goal is to help both the therapist and the client understand each other better, which will lead to an awesome spa experience every time. In airing pet peeves, I hope to open communication between the client and therapist. For massage therapists and other body workers: Please read and feel free to respond! Next week’s post will be all about you and your client pet peeves.

Complaint Department

I don’t have many spa grievances, but I will mention one. If I’m paying for a 50-minute massage, please give me a 50-minute massage. Starting late, or ending early, cuts into therapy time that I’ve paid for. And most massage therapists, even when beginning on time, spend the first few minutes very lightly grazing their fingers across your body, over the sheets and blanket, as if to “prepare” you for the massage. They might rock you a bit or even ask you to take a few deep breaths first before they begin.  I’d much prefer they skip these steps and simply get on with the massage. More time is also wasted when they leave you to get undressed for much longer than you need. It takes less than a minute to disrobe and get on the table, yet most therapists give you five minutes or more.

Debbie, a health administrator in San Diego, had been enjoying pedicures from the same place for 8 years, until she contracted a severe infection that required 2 weeks of antibiotics. Unfortunately, she did not report it and instead just stopping visiting that spa. But when something like this occurs, it’s important to say something to the spa manager, because your complaint could lead to stricter disinfecting practices, which are essential for spas that offer manicures and pedicures.

Don't Like My Therapist

Would it annoy you to listen to your aesthetician blabbing to a coworker while painting your toenails? When Bonnie, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, resident went to a local salon for a pedicure, her nail tech, along with the one sitting next to her working on another client’s nails, were “verbally bitch-slapping each other the entire time,” according to Bonnie. She did complain to management and received an apology, nothing more.

Jill, a Sonoma, California, resident prefers that her massage therapist not speak at all (unless necessary) during the massage. I usually prefer quiet as well, and appreciate it when the therapist knows when light chatting is okay and when it’s time to be silent.

Bad Pedicure

Communication is so important when it comes to the intimate nature of body therapies. Kindness and respect also go a long way. But when Beth Spottswood’s massage therapist intrusively threw talk therapy into the equation, even claiming that Beth’s ankle pain was her mother’s fault, the therapist had overstepped her boundaries. You can read about her story in the San Francisco Gate.

Do you have any pet peeves for your massage therapist, aesthetician, or spa? Let’s open the lines of communication. Next week, the therapists speak out. If you are a therapist who would like to chime in, please e-mail me at

8 Comments on Spa Pet Peeves

  1. Roberta Lane says:

    My pet peeve might be specific to cities…but maybe not! My pet peeve is when all of the women giving manis and pedis chat non stop with each other in their language. Maybe it’s not politically correct of me to say this, but I KNOW THEY”RE TALKING ABOUT ME!!!!!! (haha- hope not, but it sure feels that way!).

    • Valerie says:

      That is so funny. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where the nail techs are speaking Korean, and Elaine just knows they’re talking about her. Well, they were. 🙂 What city are you in?

      -Val The Spa Gal

  2. Dean Kautzmann says:

    So on the 60 minute massage being only 50 minutes, do you recommend we speak to the massage therapist or the manager? Just wondering.

    • Valerie says:

      That’s a good question, but I would say something to the manager. It’s their job to ensure that the therapists are doing what they’re supposed to do. Also, if you say something to the massage therapist, they’re not going to go back in and give you 10 more minutes of massage; and the issue will also not get resolved. If you tell the manager, he or she might mention the issue in a staff meeting so that all the therapists can hear it. Plus, if enough people complain, the more likely the problem will be addressed and resolved.

  3. Jenny alcorn says:

    Sometimes we need a short massage. A 15 minutes short massage can be really beneficial, in case you don’t have time.

  4. Lydia Butler says:

    I have to say that laying down sometimes it’s so uncomfortable laying on a flat table and having someone press hard on your back when you have ……boobs. I’m thinking that they have special massage tables for pregnant women with a big cutout for a stomach, right? Or don’t they? Can’t they have a table with some kind of cutaway in the chest area? I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

    • Valerie says:

      Thanks for your input, Lydia. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this myself, but what an interesting idea! I’m sure massage table manufacturers could come up with something. In fact, I’ll even pass this on to some of the massage organizations I’m aware of. My questions for you, though, are: Does this happen on all massage tables, or only at one particular place? Also, could it be that the massage therapist is simply going too deep? You can always ask him or her to use a lighter pressure on that area.

      -Val The Spa Gal

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