White towel soap stones and candle spa area

Spas in the time of Covid-19

Spas are being re-engineered

We’ve been in lockdown for months. In normal circs, most of us would be craving a spa day to aid recovery post lock-down – spas help people connect, provide soothing human contact and provide an environment to destress and rebalance, not to mention preen and polish. Who doesn’t need that right now?

However spas are having to re-engineer the guest experience in order to survive these critically difficult times. The person to person treatment within a confined treatment room may not now have quite the same appeal, so spas are dramatically shifting to accommodate the need for deeper sanitation and distancing to maxise safety and minimise the natural anxiety regular spa-goers may feel about returning.

What should we expect when they re-open?

This may apply at your local day spa of course as well as the hotel spas that we work with, so having consulted with a number of our hotel spas and industry bodies and experts, this is a brief summary of some of the changes that you might expect to see. Not all practises will be adopted by all spas and they will each be relying on local guidelines.

  • There will be additional questions at the time of booking your treatment (ie have you or any household members had any COVID symptoms in the last 14 days?) and that you should cancel your appointment if you develop any symptoms within 24 hours before the appointment
  • You may have your temperature checked on arrival. Staff and therapists will have their temperatures checked daily, many will be offered regular testing.
  • There will be lots of signage around about what increased sanitation procedures are in place
  • The welcome ritual on arrival at the spa will undoubtedly include hand sanitiser and hand sanitation stations and wipes will be visible all around the spa area
  • Menus are likely to be digital and on screens or apps, paper menus to be removed.
  • Some spas may require footwear to be removed and hospital grade disposable slippers to be worn.
  • There will be social distancing in the spa area for check in and check out – expect floor markings.
  • Spas will limit number of clients at any time to prevent over-crowding in any areas such as reception, relaxation rooms, changing rooms. Regular deep cleaning of all areas and spaced out lockers allocated to guests.
  • Timings of treatments will be carefully co-ordinated to space out the movement of clients around the spa area to limit passing in corridors etc.
  • Expect the spa staff and therapists to be wearing PPE – face masks and gloves.
  • Therapists may wear Perspex screens for certain treatments, eg facials.
  • Pre and post treatment showers will be recommended for guests for body treatments
  • The spa-goer may also be required to wear a mask during the treatment- at the very least masks will be available and optional.
  • Treatments will also be spaced out so that there is adequate time for deep room cleaning and sanitation and wiping down of products between sessions.
  • The treatment rooms will also be left for a while to ventilate, avoiding back to back treatments in the same space.
  • There will be regular sanitization of all surfaces, door handles, vanity areas, lockers – recommended at least every hour.
  • The steam rooms, saunas, ice rooms, Jacuzzis and indoor pools may not always be available (this is likely to be imposed on a regional basis) If they are available then it’s likely only for one person at a time.
  • You can expect spaced out furniture in relaxation areas – pillows, cushions and any throws are likely to have been removed along with any magazines.
  • Air filters (HEPA air quality) are to be used across rooms and many spas will be investing in more air filter systems.
  • Expect treatments menus to be simplified and adjusted given customers will be more comfortable with more distant treatments (reflexology, pedicures) and low or no touch treatments such as shiatsu or reiki will be more in demand.
  • It is likely that facial treatments will be less popular initially as they require such close face to face proximity
  • Spas are unlikely to allow groups together and are not likely to offer couples’ massages.


Different, but safer.. and therefore highly reassuring

So you’ll be greeted by the receptionist in PPE and have your temperature checked. Having seen no one in the locker room (aside, maybe a staff member in full PPE cleaning), you’ll enter your ventilated, sanitised treatment room, facemask on, to greet (no handshake though) your therapist wearing a Perspex facial shield to start your treatment. This may not sound entirely relaxing, but we’ll get used to it and will be grateful for the forensic cleaning and behind-the-scenes movement-mapping to prevent random encounters, since, in this new norm, spas are doing everything in their power to reassure us that they’re probably amongst the safest indoor areas for us to be spending time these (strange) days.

So all in all, the experience will of course be different, but then similar rules are being applied wherever we move. The spa industry is working furiously hard to ensure that all premises from small day spas through to large hotel spas and destination spas will be ready to reopen, brighter than ever, to welcome back their clients, who need their services now more than ever.


With many thanks to ISPA (International Spa Association) and ESPA for their help.


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