Great news! Spas are fully re-opened nationwide. Of course, things will be a little different to your last spa visit as strict measures are introduced to keep everyone safe: let’s not forget Covid-19 is a public health emergency. The priority is always to stop the spread of Covid-19 and avoid a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.
The most effective way to stop the spread of Covid-19 remains social distancing and regular handwashing. Other measures – such as staff PPE, increased hygiene and ventilation – will be added so that customers feel safer and therefore more relaxed on their spa days.
So how will spas look in a post-lockdown world? Based on the latest government guidelines and conversations with spa managers, this is what we think the spa journey could be like.
Pluses: Spas will be considerably less crowded. You can meet up to five friends (1+m social distancing applies). Spas will be well ventilated with plenty of fresh air. Downsides: Possibly having to shower at home. Shorter treatments. No magazines. Restricted times in areas of the spa. What are spas doing? As much as possible! Ensuring far stricter hygiene levels, controlling numbers staff and client numbers, health checks for staff and guests, maintaining social distancing. Staff will be re-trained to increase cleanliness measures, especially between treatments; will wear visors or masks and be scrupulous about handwashing between treatments. What do customers have to do? Regularly wash hands and use hand sanitiser, don’t touch your face, social distance, wear masks.
Booking your appointment
When you book your appointment and arrive at reception, you will be given clear instructions and guidelines on what you need to do to stay safe and still enjoy your spa day. You may be emailed your health questionnaire beforehand to avoid unnecessary handling of forms. Expect to be asked a Covid-19 screening question: Have you a continuous cough, high temperature or noticed a loss of taste and smell? Then you will have to stay home and rebook.
“I would anticipate many spas like ours will be carefully managing capacity to ensure guests can enjoy treatments, classes and personal training with peace of mind – so I would recommend booking appointments in advance where possible,” recommends Rachel Roselt, Spa Director at the luxurious Bulgari Spa.
Spa mornings or afternoons are more likely than spa days and you will probably be expected to pay online or with cards on the day, adding your tip to the final bill.
What to bring
Ask your spa what their changing room policy is – you'll want to know if you can shower, if you need to bring your own towel, robe and slippers etc. Some spas provide disposable robes and slippers where possible. If you can shower at your spa, bring your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash: unless your spa gives guests their own individual (sanitised) miniatures.
Bring your own face mask, tissues and hand sanitiser (we imagine some spas will provide disposable masks for guests, but you will need to check). Carry these around with you in a tote or robe pocket. You probably also will want to bring your own bottle of water and book/magazine as these are not likely to be available.
Arriving at your spa
Make sure you arrive at your allocated time, you may have to social-distance queue. Some spas will check your temperature on arrival. The receptionist may be behind a screen or wearing a visor. She may advise you on how to maintain hygiene and social distance while at the spa and answer any concerns you may have.
“Spas have always been exceptionally clean environments, but guests should of course expect enhanced cleanliness and hygiene measures to meet COVID secure protocols,” says Roselt. Even before lockdown, spas have always had extremely high hygiene standards, but new guidelines from the government mean that extra precautions will be taken for the wellbeing of guests and therapists. Expect to see sanitisation stations throughout the spa and increased directional and social distancing signs – larger spas may have arrows on the floor to control directional flow.
According to government guidelines, ventilation in buildings will be optimised and increased to ensure there is plenty of fresh air circulating. Ventilation systems will have to provide 100 per cent fresh air and not simply recirculate air from one space to another, doors and windows will be kept open and filters will be changed more frequently. Some spas, such as Low Wood Bay, will use disinfectant fogging machines overnight.
Changing rooms will need to be strictly managed, so expect to see lots of signs, markings on the floor to maintain social distancing, cleaning schedules and hand sanitisers. Try to minimise your time there as much as possible and be thoughtful around other guests.
As of the 1st October, all spa facilities are allowed to open including saunas and steam rooms (the individual spa will decide what to open, when) and are safe to use, but expect to have an allocated time slot for smaller facilities. Chlorine levels in pools will be increased in accordance with guidelines for Covid-19.
Loungers and relaxation spaces will be organised according to guidelines to reduce any risk of contamination. In relaxation rooms, this could mean wider spaces between loungers and time restrictions, it is unlikely there will be magazines, snacks or drinks.
Spas can offer all treatments including facials and close contact treatments, but they may offer a specially adapted treatment menu: we have already seen many creative ideas emerging. Many spas are adding essential oils with antiseptic properties and offering treatments designed to de-stress and relax.
Expect to wear a mask during your treatment. The government suggests keeping the activity time as short as possible and using screens, such as visors. Therapists delivering massages will maintain handwashing hygiene and will probably not need to wear gloves.