The importance of being comfortable throughout your massage – just because your therapist is ‘qualified’, does not mean they are any good.

So, here’s a little personal anecdote from Lexi, our Marketing Manager, about a recent massage experience on a trip to Italy…

We all know what to expect when we book in for a massage appointment. For most of us, it’s a treat, a little me time, down time, muscle and mind repair, a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing experience… most of the time.

I feel like many of you will be able to relate to the story I’m just about to tell…

Massage is an incredibly intimate experience; you meet someone for the first time, get naked for them and the you let them touch your naked body. It’s assumed that the professional in question is going to protect your dignity at all times and make you feel totally comfortable while doing the job that they are qualified to do. Would that be an accurate assumption?

The Body Sanctum reputation relies heavily on what people say when they talk about their experience with us; reviews and word-of-mouth provide real insights and ratings which many of our clients use in their decision making process. It’s up to us to ensure the reputation of our Spa meets your expectations and remains at the highest standard, and it’s our mission to guarantee that when you book in with us, you leave with a feeling of ultimate relaxation and satisfaction that what we offer here is truly the bees knees.

Our team of massage therapists are EVERYTHING to our business, they are the reason people come back to see us time and time again and they are the reason that Body Sanctum Day Spa is the number 1 rated Spa on Trip Advisor. We encourage our team to be personable, relaxed and above all, human. We’re a spa that encourages communication between our therapists and our clients and we pride ourselves on our welcoming and humble environment.

Aside from being a badass business woman, Judi Sneddon (who started Body Sanctum 19 years ago) is also personally responsible for hiring all massage therapists who apply for a position with us, and if you don’t cut the mustard, you don’t get in. With Queenstown being such a transient town, our standards for staff quality don’t make it easy to keep a consistently large team of the best around, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our clients deserve only the best.

So…. back to the point… when I ventured out to experience a massage outside of my Body Sanctum bubble, it suddenly dawned on me that actually, we ARE the bees knees.

Question, have you ever felt so uncomfortable throughout a massage experience that you just wished the time away, but you were too embarrassed/uncomfortable to say anything or stop the treatment? You are not alone! When you’re naked on a bed, covered in oil with someone’s hands on you, it’s really, genuinely, not that simple to just say what you’re thinking – it sounds so ridiculous, but we humans do it all the time. Some people just don’t like complaining so they’ll put up with it and then skulk away quietly and never return / leave a bad review online / tell all your friends how awful it was.

I was in Foligno, Italy, and had some time to kill so I Googled ‘Spas in Foligno’ and clicked onto Google maps to find the nearest Spa to my hotel. Me being me, I reckoned it must be fairly decent (despite the lack of reviews) but it ranked 3rd on Google search and was a ‘Luxury Spa’ located in a 5* hotel, so on first glance, bingo, I’d found a great spa within 5 mins walking from my hotel. Booked in for a 50 minute Aromatherapy massage at $90 ($160NZD) – a price to match the ‘Luxury’ description – and chilled out for the afternoon while I waited.

I arrived and met an older man who introduced himself as my physiotherapist (his English was non-existent, issue no.1), although I was super happy that he was highly qualified. The room was nice and warm, but when I looked towards the massage bed, there were no linens or spare towels (issue no.2 – how was I going to protect my dignity?). He left the room for me to get undressed, and like you, I literally undressed at the speed of light, found a spare towel and jumped onto the bed within seconds! For whatever reason, we all believe that our therapists are only going to give us 10 seconds to get our clothes off before they walk back in on us starkers… (which by the way, never happens, they always knock and ask before coming back in!)

Great, massage was about to commence, bring on the hot oils and relaxation… Well, my goodness, I have never had so much oil poured onto me (issue no.3), it was literally dripping down my side boob and all over the towel underneath me. That managed to distract my attention for a while until I realised that my therapist was barely even touching me, it was more like a tickling stroking thing (I can’t deal with heavy massage pressure, I’m a light pressure gal, but this was something else… issue no.4). I let it continue while my neck was cranked sideways due to the bed not having a face rest (issue no.5) and then he asked me to turn over after about 10 mins (was that all I was getting on my back?) I was already feeling a bit uncomfortable as he hadn’t convinced me in the first 10 seconds that he knew what he was doing, so I held onto my small towel and rolled onto my back making sure no nip slips occured. He started onto my legs and folded the towel right up onto my belly so my underwear was totally exposed (issue no.6 – now I was feeling MASSIVELY uncomfortable, not to mention I was wearing teeny undies and hadn’t had a wax for ages) but then, he started lifting up and stretching my left leg out – WHAT THE ACTUAL? (issue no.7), it was at this point I asked him to stop and just focus on my back – he didn’t really understand due to the language barrier (issue no.1 rearing its head again). Back on my front, I tried so hard to let my mind relax, but this is when I heard a draw open and some shuffling around… of course, he was looking for a bamboo roller to use in the ‘aromatherapy relaxation massage’ I’d booked (issue no.8). ‘Just go with it’ I thought, swiftly followed by ‘I hope we’re nearly done’, followed by ‘stop touching me’ and ‘I need to say something’ (all in my head).

… A whole litre of oil, some weird bamboo rolling, him climbing onto the bed multiple times and some more strange stroking motions later, the experience was finally over. He left the room, I wiped down my entire body, got dressed and walked straight out of the hotel (I’d pre-paid). It was horrendous. The only other experience I’ve had that comes close was when I was about 16 years old and my female therapist at a Spa in Malaysia decided my actual boobs needed a massage too… That’s a whole other story. I did tell my hotel concierge who were amazing, but when I requested a refund, they told me I’d had the treatment and they would not refund me for my terrible experience.

It just goes to show that we remember these negative experiences so vividly! Massage is so intimate by nature; there’s already a level of vulnerability because you have to get your kit off, so the threshold for having an uncomfortable experience is already that much closer.

All in all, what I can take away from my experience is to always read reviews, ask the locals, hotel concierge etc and find out from people who have already been to and experienced that place before you make the call on where to go. Secondly, if you’re uncomfortable, for the love of god, just say something to your therapist, stop the treatment, do whatever you need to do! Most Spas will bend over backwards to make sure you leave happy and get the experience that you deserve. Thirdly, I’m pretty lucky to live in my Body Sanctum bubble with the best team of experienced therapists that there are!

It’s our mission to make sure you have the most relaxing, enjoyable and comfortable experience at our Day Spa and we seriously value your feedback. Providing incredibly relaxing experiences is what makes us get out of bed in the morning. 🙂


PS. On the off-chance you’ve got time to kill when you’re next in Foligno, my hotel concierge said that the Nun Spa Museum in nearby Assisi is outstanding (and has reviews that say so too!) At all costs, avoid the Villa dei Platani Hotel & Spa.

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