Getting Comfortable at the Spa: A Guide to Spa Etiquette

The Greater Palm Springs area is full of world-class spas offering everything from a dip in local mineral waters to the ultimate in luxury pampering. However, those who have never visited a spa might not know what to expect the first time. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your spa experience.

Book Your Services

spa services in greater palm springs

What type of spa experience you are looking for? Do you simply want access to the spa’s facilities, such as the steam room and sauna? Then ask for a day spa pass. If you are looking to combine a visit to the facilities with a treatment, such as a massage, a facial, or a body wrap, then book a spa package. Many spas offer packages combining two or more treatments, but most will allow you to select your treatments a la carte.

It’s always a good idea to let the spa know if you have any special requests, injuries, or health concerns when you call to book your appointment. That way, they can match you with the therapist best suited to your needs.

When You Arrive

two bunch palms grotto in greater palm springs

Be prepared to put the world on hold as soon as you walk through the door. This means that you will be entering a quiet zone, where you will be asked to use your “whisper voice” and either silence or leave your smart phone in your locker. This is vital to ensuring a quiet, relaxing atmosphere for you and your fellow spa guests.

Dawn Ferraro, spa director at The Spa at JW Marriott Desert Springs, also recommends that you tell the front desk if this is your first time vising a spa. She says that staff will go to great lengths to make sure that you are comfortable and informed about everything you experience, from the standard health questionnaire upon arrival to a complete tour of the facility so you know what’s available to you.

Getting Ready

the spa at jw marriott desert springs

Next, you will be shown to the locker room and handed a robe and slippers for use during your visit. While it is implied that you are to emerge from the locker room with nothing on but the robe, rest assured that you only need to get as bare as you are comfortable getting. If you prefer to leave your underwear on, that is completely your decision. Spa staff will work with the level of undress with which you are comfortable.

That being said, you can expect that others may be naked in the gender specific locker rooms; however, everyone will be robed in the co-ed general areas. Always remember to bring your swimsuit, as co-ed pools and mineral baths require them.

In the locker rooms, you will most likely find the steam and sauna facilities. These wonders of natural soothing and detoxification are generally clothing optional areas. You can wrap yourself in a towel or lie down on the bench in the buff. Again, it’s all about your personal comfort.

In the Treatment Room

L'Horizon Spa in Greater Palm Springs

As you are escorted to the treatment room, your therapist will ask you questions and provide information specific to the treatment you are having. For example, if you are there for a massage, expect the therapist to ask what level of pressure you prefer. Make sure you communicate your desires clearly.

Robert Seibel, director of spa and retail for Two Bunch Palms, recommends open communication with your therapist at all times. According to Seibel, inserting a simple “I would prefer” in front of your request goes a long way toward a blissful spa experience.

When you’re ready to get started, the therapist will step out of the room to allow you to take off your robe and slip under the covers on the treatment table. Even if you’re naked under the covers, rest assured that only the areas specific to the treatment will be exposed. Your modesty will remain intact.


massage at two bunch palms in greater palm springs

Spa therapists are skilled in the specialties they provide. Just as you would tip any talented service person, you are expected to tip a spa therapist. Many spas automatically include a gratuity for the therapist on your bill at checkout. This is to make sure that their contributions to the level of bliss and relaxation you feel upon departure do not go overlooked.

If there is no automatic tip included, it is generally expected that you contribute an 18-20% gratuity. Of course, if you’ve had a problem or negative experience, the spa wants to know about it. Raise these concerns and most spas will adjust or eliminate a mandatory gratuity.

The spa experience is one to be savored. Whether on your own or as part of a larger group, walk in knowing that the staff is there to provide quality, personalized treatments in a serene atmosphere. Take your time and soak it all in. You’ll enjoy it and it just may become your “go-to” escape the next time you require serious relaxation.

Ready for a spa day? Don’t miss these summer spa deals in Greater Palm Springs.


Pam Salvadore is a freelance writer and contributor to Desert Health®, a free news publication that promotes integrative health care and prevention in the Coachella Valley. For more information visit or

The Microbiome Solution: Live Dirty, Eat Clean

A Desert Health Review by Pam Salvadore

The Microbiome Solution is not your ordinary diet book. It’s more of an education in how our bodies work and how we can impact them to produce better health. Health expert and author Dr. Robynne Chutkan honed the information she shares in the book through observation, trial and error in her practice as an integrative gastroenterologist and founder of the Digestive Center for Wellness in Maryland.

Chutkan has made it her mission to help us understand how our body’s microbes influence the state of our health and the power we have to change them for the better. She is a member of the medical advisory board for The Dr. Oz Show and a regular guest covering digestive health. She was the host of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Roundtable Series and a medical consultant and on-air talent for Discovery Health Channel. Chutkan has also been featured on The Today Show, CBS This Morning,and The Doctors and is frequently interviewed as a medical expert for the Washington Post.

In her book, Chutkan defines microbiome as “all the organisms that live in or on your body.” She’s talking about bacteria, viruses, fungus, and, yes, even worms. That’s a whopping one hundred trillion microbes which can be found in or on your body at any given time. Referring to it as “the zoo inside you,” Chutkan explains how this multitude of microbes work together to support bodily functions and the importance of keeping them healthy, happy, and properly balanced.

She begins with how we attain our microbes and emphasizes getting back to nature. The most natural arrival is believed to be that which is imparted to us from our mothers, through the processes of natural childbirth and breast feeding. From there, we pick up microbes from the foods we eat and the environments we come into contact with throughout our lives. Our environment, in particular, plays a key role. It used to be that we picked up these health cohorts when we went out to play in the woods or garden in the yard. Now, children sit in front of monitors and a majority of us sit at desks all day. Chutkan stresses the importance of this contact with nature in keeping your microbiome healthy and diverse. While you can take a probiotic pill she says, it will not come close to providing the complete range of microbes that your body has worked to collect over the course of your lifetime.

Chutkan goes on to explain how illness and obesity are quite possibly the result of an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in our microbiomes, known as dysbiosis. This imbalance allows the bad bacteria to take over, forcing good microbes and bacteria out and resulting in disease. Dysbiosis is the most common disorder Chutkan sees in her practice and she believes that it very well may be the underlying explanation for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. She is also convinced that dysbiosis could provide an explanation as to why so many people have trouble losing weight. Adamant about her theory, Chutkan even went so far as to conduct a nutritional study among twelve of her patients as a means of addressing their Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis symptoms, and it worked! Her study found that dietary changes restored balance to her patients’ microbiomes and significantly relieved their symptoms. Addressing dysbiosis could well be the most simple and profound treatment for a variety of medical conditions. 

So how do we regain this delicate microbiome balance? Chutkan’s “Live Dirty, Eat Clean” plan recommends two basic tenets: first we need to “re-wild,” meaning that we need to restock the good bacteria lost to years of neglect and sanitation. Re-wilding is easily attained by stopping the bad behavior that’s killing off your bacteria and throwing your microbiome out of whack. Stop medicating your bacteria, stop scrubbing your skin every time you come in contact with an unfamiliar environment, and get outside more often. By stopping the behaviors that kill microbes, your body will be better able to regain what was lost and foster the growth and strength of the good microbes you need for optimal health.

Second, we need to feed our bacterial friends the foods that will keep them in balance, so they are able to support our health. Start eating prebiotics, foods that feed your good bacteria and encourage them to do their jobs, and stop eating junk. These two simple steps can restore harmony to your microbiome, therefore restoring overall health.

Chutkan’s “Live Dirty, Eat Clean” plan is a realistic and well thought out lifestyle program that’s full of information, recipes, and steps that allow you to take back control and influence your health for the better. Her mantra is “live a little dirtier and eat a little cleaner.”

The Microbiome Solution is an insightful, well-written and easily absorbed book that provides the education and tools to influence your health for the entirety of your life. I strongly encourage anyone interested in better health and living well to indulge in this educational insight in lieu of trendy diets that vilify, restrict, and berate food and lifestyle choices.

Pam Salvadore of La Quinta is a nutrition journalist. For more information from Pam visit her blog The Microbiome Solution is available at national book retailers and online. For more information visit Chutkan’s website,


Click here to read this article in Desert Health.