Tea costs extra, friends.
If you grew up in the U.S. (like me), your notion of spas will be vastly different than the notion of spas in other countries around the world. For instance, the notion of “spa” in some parts of Asia sometimes includes a (surprise!) happy ending. The notion of “spa” in Europe is usually not as clothed or gender segregated as the U.S. And so on and so forth. So, when you are going to hit a spa in a new country, it’s probably a good idea to ask a local (or your fabulous resident blogger) what to expect. That way you won’t be subject to any surprise happy endings.
So, for all of you lovely readers, so that you don’t have to blindly book your spa vacations, I spent yesterday in a Belgian Spa. I know…it’s a tough job and all, but someone has to do it. You’re welcome.
Here are my tips:
1. Take your own towels, sandals, slippers, and/or bathrobes. If you don’t have these things, the spas sometimes (always?) charge extra for them. Save yourself those couple extra euros and toss some hotel towels in your handbag.
2. You don’t have to book a treatment. Spas often include saunas, hot tubs, reading rooms, sunning areas, hot showers, cold showers, and even a nap room (this is, by the way, my favorite thing ever, in case you didn’t get that from the italics). There is an entry fee to use the facilities, but you don’t have to also book a treatment. And there isn’t always a discount if you do book a treatment. So always assume you’ll be paying for any treatments you book as well as the entrance fee for the facility (and any towels, bathrobes, or slippers you forgot to pack).
3. Clothing isn’t always optional (and not in the way you think, either). This is a no-swimsuit zone. Take your pants off. We’re all friends here. (And in case you didn’t want to see sixteen penises today, move along.)
4. Facilities aren’t always separated by gender. Europeans are (not shockingly) a little more free-spirited than Americans. They don’t always see the point in separate gender hot tubs and saunas. And there’s nothing sexual about it. It’s just spa time, relaxation time. If you happen to see a few boobs in the process, well, bonus.
Do keep in mind that I’m getting my info from one personal experience and some informal interviews with native-born Belgians. In some spas, particularly those that cater to tourists, the norms may be slightly altered. But it’s never a bad idea to go in with local expectations (or at least be able to ask the right questions when you are booking your spa day).