Insider's Guide to Spas
Author Donald Charles Richardson
Donald Charles Richardson

Spa Etiquette

The Smartest Man at the Resort Spa

Donald Charles Richardson


You’re a modern man. You already know regular spa visits are just another way to keep yourself looking and feeling on top, like working out, making sure your clothes fit perfectly, and having your shoes shined. But even if you’re an old hand at spas, you might not be getting the most out of the experience. Relax. We’re here to help you get a head start on your next resort spa stay.

How to Find A Spa You’ll Love
Start by making sure you’re going to a place that’s right for you. Call the hotel concierge. Get the lowdown on the ambiance of the resort. If you’re a single man who likes to meet people, don’t book into a hotel that caters to honeymooners, or if you’re looking for a quiet peaceful vacation, you probably want to avoid a spa that hosts big conventions. Find out if the spa accommodates families or couples or whatever. You need to know. While you’re at it, inquire what grooming products are available in the hotel rooms (strangely, few hotels or spas include this information on their websites).

Ask the Right Questions
Next, transfer your call to the spa and ask about the treatments and services. If you want to concentrate on exercise, check out the classes or activities, and maybe opt for something you haven’t tried before like boxing or fencing. If relaxing and getting pampered is your goal, learn about the different massages and facials and discuss your personal skin or physical condition to select the best ones for you. Helen Brown, spa director at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, points out that they’ve had some guests go through the entire spa menu on the phone. Go ahead and book your treatments so you’ll have the time slot you want when you get there.

What to Pack
One of the nice things about spas is that you don’t have to take much with you. Annette Sandford-Lopez, director of the spa at the Charleston Place Hotel points out her facility provides virtually everything a man needs. Of course, you should pack swim trunks, work-out wear (sneakers, shorts, jock, T-shirt, oh, and remember to take underwear if you wear a robe during a pedicure). And from your phone call you already know what grooming products the hotel provides, so unless you have a favorite shaving cream or cologne, you don’t have to carry those along.

Having put together the basics, you’ve got a lot of empty space in your suitcase. Use it for clothes to wear to dinner. Ms. Sandford-Lopez points out that, “Shorts and T- shirts are not allowed at dinner. Charleston Place has four-star dining, and a lot of men do wear jackets at dinner.” She says it helps make the experience special, while Ms. Brown adds, “A jacket is not inappropriate. We (at Mayflower Inn) are country casual. We have a fine dining room. The women dress up for dinner, and there’s lots of jewelry on display.”

Dressing the Part
Pack a blazer, dress pants, a couple of nice shirts, and dress shoes. If you’re staying more than one night, take a blue or black blazer. You can wear it with gray pants, white shirt, and black shoes one night and khaki pants, light-blue shirt, and brown shoes the next. Dressing up gives you an edge when you walk into the dining room and makes the right impression on both the staff (they do notice) and other guests.

Get organized and you’ll not only be the smartest man at the spa, you’ll be the best looking.

Donald Charles Richardson

Donald Charles Richardson

Donald Charles Richardson is a lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, American Spa, Better Health and Living, Playboy, Men’s Health, GQ, and Maxim. He wrote the style essay for Neiman Marcus’ The Book, the catalogue for the Fragrance Foundation Museum’s show on Four Centuries of Men’s Fragrance, and his article, “Creating and Choosing a Fragrance,” for The New York Times was nominated for a FIFI award. He is currently the Luxury Lifestyle Writer for both Accent and Forum Magazines. He is the author of Balanced Body, Croquet, The Art and Elegance of Playing The Game, both published by Crown Books, and Your Hair, Helping To Save It (with Dr. Neil Sadek) for Consumer Reports Books. His Men Of Style, a grooming and fashion guide for gentlemen, published by Random House, has become a standard in the industry.