For the ski season, I worked at a resort with over 19 treatment rooms in a luxury spa setting. Here’s a day in the life of a spa massage therapist.
Due to limited parking on-site at this resort spa location, employees shuttle into work from an employee parking lot. You’re expected to arrive at least thirty minutes before your shift. You catch the shuttle at least fifteen minutes before you’re expected to be at the spa.
You clock in after changing into your uniform in the locker room. Our uniforms are a stretchy black material. They are great for camouflaging oil spills and allowing for a full range of motion. We’re required to wear a name badge.
When you arrive into work, you check which room you have been assigned, and the appointment schedule. Most spas will only have one or two computers for checking appointments, so to minimize congestion at the computer it’s smart to write the names of their clients and appointments on a piece of paper to have as a reference through the day. This will also be valuable if there is a computer glitch.
The best massage therapists prepare their room before the day has begun. Preparation of a massage room includes:
- Turning on lights, propping open door, ensuring room is clean and presentable.
- Restocking any linens, towels, or products that are running low.
- Turning on hot towel cabbies. These are little ovens that only turn on to a certain temperature contain racks in them to hold towels, or anything you want to warm up. They are hotter the longer they are switched on. The earlier the massage the longer your towels will need to get warm.
- Turning on the heating pad on the massage table.
- Preparing treatment-specific materials. This means turning on your hot stones, or warming a certain product.
You may be in one room or three rooms to prepare. Most times you’ll be assigned the same room consistently but if the appointment is a full body scrub, couples, or tub soak you may have a different room for just that appointment. Some different appointments offered at the spa:
- Couples massages utilize a room with two tables, and a shared cabbie.
- Wet treatments which utilize a hydro tub (fancy hot tub where jets target specific problem areas) or Vichy shower (a large arm that pivots over a client lying down and rinses them with 7 shower heads).
- Additions to a conventional massage could include a scrub, a body butter, or a hydrating scalp treatment. It may or may not add extra time depending on your menu.
- Hot stone massages, river basalt stones are used to warm specific areas and can be used to apply deeper pressure without wearing your hands.
- Pregnancy massages, uses a body pillow for client to lie comfortably on their side, and a product without harmful ingredients or essential oils.
Most often there is a designated pickup area for your guests. While you may want to pick up a guest early, it is best to pick them up right on time and ending on time. This way you’re not making your coworkers look like they are late to pick up or early to end.
After confirming their treatment, escorting the client to the room, and asking about their preferences, you’ll leave the room to allow them onto the table in privacy. In a spa setting, your clients are most-likely wearing robes. Keep in mind it will take them less time to get on the table with a robe, so you’ll want to stay by the door rather than leave and come back.
The treatment is completed, and the client is returned to where you received them. You’ll change the table for the next client. Repeat until the day is over.
At my spa, I’ve worked anywhere from two to eight massages. Christmas usually launches the busy winter season. The busiest times are holidays, specifically between Christmas and New Years. A ski resort spa attracts healthy clientele, many will want deeper pressure, and clients are knowledgeable and conscious about their health.
You will make more money at ski resorts as well, although keep in mind your cost of living is higher. I make about $50 – 60 per hr after taxes are taken out. We are paid $6.28 per hr + 15% of treatment commission + tip. It is customary to tip massage therapists 20% of original treatment cost (not sale price). For me, if I make $800 in tips, taxes take out $400. If I have no appointments, I make less than minimum wage. It’s an all or nothing game.
We give 60 and 90 minute massages, with 15 minute turn over time (mainly due to the spas size) whereas some spas do 50 and 80 minute treatments with 10 minute turn over time. We have a large team that consists of massage therapists, nail techs, estheticians, concierge, attendants, managers, and supervisors.
Each spa is different! Don’t take my word for it, go explore the setting for yourself.