Spas have been open for treatments and swimming since April 12. But now, as from May 17, saunas and steam rooms can re-open: finally, we can all enjoy the ultimate spa day experience! Plus, you will be able to stay over at a spa hotel and have lunch or dinner indoors (just as the weather turns nice – typical).
Some of us raced back to spas as soon as they opened – read about our Spa Spy’s experience at Whatley Manor here. Others feel more cautious and may wonder what to expect. Will we feel relaxed and safe enough to get the full benefits of a spa day?
The Spa Spies have been speaking to guests and Spa Managers - as well as experiencing spa days ourselves - to find out what people need to know before returning to spas. Here we address some of the concerns that came up and asked our spa experts for their responses.
Will my spa day still be relaxing with COVID protocols?
In our experience, spa staff are working extra hard to make you feel safe and have as pleasurable a day as possible. Remember, they want spa guests to return – their livelihoods depend on it - and are doing everything possible to make people fall in love with spas again. You may find you get more care and attention than usual - and more space as there are less customers generally. There may be a time-allotted system to reduce numbers in facilities, or you will have a morning or afternoon booked, there should still with plenty of time for lounging poolside, wandering through spa gardens, sipping drinks and eating lunch, or enjoying a post-treatment snooze. It shouldn't feel too obviously regimented just comfortingly well organised.
The other thing to note is that there will be no cushions or blankets – not so much a problem in summer, although if you like a snuggle, a tepidarium bed does the trick. Plus, of course, no magazines, so bring your own reading material.
How clean are spas?
Spas have always been uber clean environments, but now they have stepped up the cleaning regime. Some spas, such as Coworth Park, are doing a 15 minute deep clean of shared areas and touchpoints every hour – don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will be randomly mopped from head to toe and the whole place will stink of disinfectant. Everything is organised around guests’ time slots and the cleaning materials are safe, the areas well ventilated. Spas have also been creative about the way they provide you with towels and robes, in bags or in your lockers, some even supplying products so you don’t need to touch shared shampoos and cleansers (although in theory your hands would be pretty clean anyway thanks to all the hand sanitisers provided).
Are swimming pools safe?
According to Government Guidelines there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed in swimming pools and according to the World Health Organisation, chlorine kills the virus. Still, expect to see pool attendants regularly dip-testing the water. The issues are more around the pool area. The Virus spreads person-to-person in respiratory droplets within 6 feet. It can linger for minutes or hours indoors, so indoor pools should be well-ventilated. In pools and wet areas, you still need to practice social distancing and sanitising; shower and use hand-sanitiser before entering and exiting the pool. Spas will have clear signs, sanitising stations and guidance around this.
Are heat experiences safe?
According to the Global Health and Fitness Association, saunas have a high temperature and porous furniture that make it difficult for any virus to survive. Steam rooms have a lower temperature so would be cleaned (many are self-cleaning) between clients – this means you will be given time slots to allow for cleaning. The positive is that they haven’t been used for months and have had an extra deep clean before re-opening. Only enter a heat facility with one other person and make sure you shower and wash your hands before and after.
Will my therapist be in full PPE?
Generally, no, but it depends on the treatment. Your therapist and all the staff will wear a mask continually and wash their hands. Treatment rooms are thoroughly cleaned according to strict guidelines between guests. If you are having a mud treatment or scrub, therapists may wear PPE. Some nail bars have Perspex screens for extra protection. You may need to fill out your consultation form online before you arrive to prevent contamination. The treatment itself should feel pretty much the same as usual.
Do I have to wear a mask all day?
The greatest risk of contamination is between people who have not socially distanced. You may need to wear a mask when having a treatment in most spas: some will supply you with a disposable mask. You should wear your mask in shared areas - our Spa Spy had to wear hers from the changing room to the pool, but could take it off on her poolside lounger, when using the facilities and when lunching. It might be a good idea to bring two masks in case one gets wet.
Read more about how our spas are making everything COVID-safe for your return on our spa directory pages.