Spa nudity can be a big area of anxiety and confusion, especially for people who are new to spas. "Will the massage therapist see me naked?"
The answer is no, at least in the West. American spas and the resort spas we travel to in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are strict about draping, working only on the part of the body that is exposed. (European spas, however, are less uptight about nudity, both in the treatment room and in co-ed "sauna worlds".)
Fear And Confusion About What Spa Nudity Means
Another concern is a fear of being judged -- one reason female clients sometimes avoid male therapists. Rest assured that masssage therapists are used to dealing with all kind of bodies, and they're "looking" with their hands, feeling for what's going on with your muscle tissue.
Sometimes the confusion or unrealistic fantasies goes in another, more salacious direction -- "It's just me and the therapist, alone in a room. Who knows what might happen?" The answer is....a professional massage, unless it's an illegal, seedy establishment that has nothing to do with the mainstream spa experience.
Spa Nudity At Every Stage
Here's the real story with spa nudity, from the time you get to the spa until you leave, and how to stay within your comfort zone. You can also watch a video on spa nudity.
First you generally change into a robe and slippers in the women or men's locker rooms or "changing areas". Sometimes, but not often, there are private changing rooms where you can undress and slip into your robe out of view, particularly in large luxury spas. More commonly you'll be undressing with other people of the same gender. Some day spas don't have locker rooms, so you take your clothes off in the treatment room and slip under the sheet.
Resort spas in the West generally have steam, sauna, and hot tubs in separate men and women's changing areas. You can go nude, wrap yourself in a towel, or wear a swimsuit. In the steam or sauna you'll want to bring a towel to sit or lie on.
Once you're in your robe, you got to the area, often called a "Quiet Room" or "Meditation Lounge" where you wait to be picked up by your therapist. This can be co-ed or separate for men and women, depending on the spa (some even offer both options). While you're in the lounge, be aware of how you're sitting. Men, especially, need to avoid sitting with their legs spread, since the robe can fall open.
At the time of your appointment the massage therapist comes to the lounge, calls your name and takes you to the treatment room, sometimes chatting about your treatment along the way. In the room he or she should ask you about areas of concern and give you clear instructions about getting on the table -- robe off, where to hang it up, face up or down -- and then leave. The therapist will give you time to get on the tale and always knock and ask if you're ready before entering.
Between The Sheets
Generally you are nude during the massage, but always covered with sheets. Only the body part being massaged is exposed. When it's time to turn over, the therapist holds up the sheet and looks away so you're covered as you turn over.
You can wear underwear if you're uncomfortable with complete nudity, but this means the therapist can't work the large muscles of the gluteus maximus and hip attachments, which are often problem areas. But whatever you're comfortable with is what you should do.
European spas, like the spas in Germany are more relaxed about spa nudity. They don't use elaborate draping techniques, and men and women typically take steam and sauna baths together, nude.
Spa Treatments That Don't Require Nudity
If you're nervous about spa nudity, start with a facial, where the esthetician is only touching your head, arms, shoulders and sometimes feet. There are also styles of massage where you stay fully clothed, like Thai Massage and reflexology I think reflexology is the better choice here, as Thai Massage involves some positions that can feel even more exposing than a simple Swedish massage. And it can be an intense experience, even for experienced spa-goers.
There's also the mani-pedi option.
The Treatments You May Want To Avoid
Think twice about getting a body treatment like a salt glow or a Vichy shower if you're uncomfortable with spa nudity. You are more likely to be exposed at some point. Most spas offer disposable panties for the body treatment. Sometimes they're optional, and sometimes the spa requests you wear them.
Spas may request you wear a swimsuit or disposable briefs during hydrotherapy treatments. (This is especially true with men.) Women are often allowed to choose, but you have to be comfortable with the idea that the therapist will see everything at some point.
Even though you're nude for your treatment, legitimate spas don't offer happy endings and it's a serious breach of spa etiquette to ask for one or show signs of sexual arousal, like groaning in a suggestive way, moving your hips, or for men, allowing an erection to pop the sheet up. If you go there, the therapist has the right to end the massage immediately.