Spa Etiquette for the Gadget Age

spa etiquette

You know the drill. Chatting, texting or updating your Facebook status in a luxury resort spa borders on gauche. Any spa worth their weight in relaxation requires you to power down your electronic devices before entering their halls. And should you be caught tapping or yapping by another spa patron, be fully prepared for a disapproving glare. Spas go to great lengths to create an ambiance of peace and tranquility that invites introspection, meditation and mental cleansing. The din of a blaring phone or squawking angry birds is a flagrant intrusion. The golden rule of spa: Turn off your cell phone and get in the Zen.

Yet, electronic gadgets are becoming an integral part of the relaxation process. In 2012, Pew Internet concluded that more than 20 percent of American adults now enjoy their favorite reads on e-book devices rather than paper. Our iPods are the keepers of our “just chill” music mix. A tide of stress-reducing apps are hitting iPad and Android tablets. Parents and professionals often feel more at ease if they can check in electronically with kids and comrades. Our e-gadgets have become our modern-day security blankets, our life companions, our lifeline to work and loved ones.

How, then, does you the rules of spa etiquette and completely disconnect from your companion devices and the outside world? Here’s how.

Make an Escape Plan

Create the space. First rule of embracing your spa experience is to think of your visit as a mini vacation. Block out the time on your shared calendar, kick in your email vacation responder with your back-up contact and get the kids a sitter. Your spa day is a mental vacation from life. Be proud that you’ve given this gift to yourself and get people in the habit of knowing that you may be completely inaccessible from time to time.

Ask the questions. If you plan to cuddle up with a good read on your Kindle Fire after your service, ask before booking your service if select electronics are acceptable. Most spas will be more than accommodating as long as the device is set to silent mode or if you use quality earbuds. The Spa at the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, for example, encourages guests to bring iPods, which can be used in their treatment rooms.

Be an early bird. On the day of your visit, pad your arrival time by at least 20 minutes. Spas require that you arrive 15 to 30 minutes before your scheduled service time. Give yourself an additional 15 or 20 minutes before you step foot inside the spa to peruse your inbox, answer any last-minute texts and power down your devices completely.

Go with the Flow

Now just breath. You’ve cleared your schedule, you’ve notified the world, you’re safe to close your eyes and sink into the spirit of the spa experience. Appreciate the silence. Ignore the guy who has snuck his phone in the spa and is texting in the corner. Just by turning off your phone, you’ve actually lowered your stress levels, as noted in a study by the British Psychological Society. Embrace it.

Take a check-in break. If you absolutely cannot relax without at least a quick peek at your phone, take it out of your locker, put it in your pocket and walk out of the facility (not to the pool or other public spa space). You may even want to stop by the reception desk and let them know that you’re stepping out for a moment to check in on your phone. Do not step back in the spa until the device is completely powered down.

Practice missing out. Now that you’re relaxed, reenergized and ready face the world again after your spa escape, hold onto that feeling. A 2013 study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s annual Internet Trends report revealed that on average, people check their cell phones 150 times per day. Don’t be that guy. Unless it’s to make another spa appointment, put the smartphone down and just relax.

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