Fighting to Relax

I am a proud spa-aholic. I’ve endured a facial of pulverized nightingale droppings. I’ve been whipped around a watsu pool, squeezed into Michelin Man thigh shrinkers, even been analyzed by a cowboy therapist while talking to a horse. All in the name of achieving some blend of beauty/zen.  

So, last week, when I spoke to the worldwide spa and salon directors of Aveda at their 2008 Spa Summit in Minneapolis about what women want, I was really in my element. (Anyone who is an Aveda aficionado knows that their signature fragrance is fabulous. Imagine walking onstage to meet a theatre filled with ahhhh…) I shared the importance of silence in the personal service business. It’s not just about the massage or the oils or eye cushions. It’s what’s not said that counts, too. Especially when the woman on the table is a stressed out mess. (Know anyone like that?)  

Nevertheless, back home, when I had my next massage in a local salon, I was in for a shock. Halfway through the hour of Enya, perfect technique and total relaxation, the therapist’s cell rang with one of those annoying, elongated ringtones. Twice. As I got up from the table, the therapist, who had stepped into a nearby alcove, called her impatient caller and began a ten minute blow by blow about payments, clients and generally the frustration of her job.  

As I stood there in my robe, gobsmacked into her reality, she hung up and decided to commiserate with me on the challenges of customer service. Like I cared. I do. But not when it’s my turn for karma-charging.  

Lesson learned: while women are highly attuned and can be great empathizers, know where to draw the line. Spas are the equivalent of the closed bathroom door. Keep out. Keep it quiet. Or buzz-kill your way out of business.

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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