Don’t be afraid to ask if you need to wear undies: Owner

With Father’s Day just around the corner (it’s next Sunday if you’d forgotten), many dads around the city are going to find themselves spoiled with gifts from their spouses and children.


And for a growing percentage of those dads, those gifts will include a trip to the spa for a gentleman’s facial, a massage to ease out sports-related kinks or even pedicures to shave off a year’s worth of calluses.


But as I was reminded on a recent research mission to the spa — sometimes journalism does have its perks! — the spa is still largely a female-dominated domain.


This can create an etiquette dilemma for the uneducated guy who really doesn’t know what to expect from the spa or how to handle himself when he’s in there.


I’m a fairly regular spa-goer and, on this visit, even I noticed I was the only male in attendance. For me this isn’t a problem, for other guys it might be a deal breaker.

As Dan Thompson, head trainer and spokesperson for the new Oasis Wellness Centre and Spa in the Distillery Historic District explains, the very nature of the spa business has changed in recent years from being beauty-centric, to an emphasis on wellness to better cater to the growing male clientèle.

That said, Thompson reminds that 90 per cent of his spa guests are still female-something he and his industry colleagues are eagerly attempting to change.

“I think the more that the we cut back on health care, the more (men) realize they have to do something more proactive,” Thompson says.

Victoria Sutherland, owner of Victoria Spa at the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street regularly sees a 50-50 gender split in her clientèle, largely due to the hotel’s heavy corporate traffic.

“The corporate male or the international traveller is more spa savvy and actually chooses his hotel because it has a spa,” Sutherland says.

Those spa-savvy males know what they want from their spa treatment and the facility in general-neutral décor being the preference-and are generally more comfortable in those serene surrounds.

For the rest of men out there who may not be so well attuned to the spa experience, Thompson offers a few tips to make the experience truly relaxing.

“First and foremost, (men need to) understand that they belong there,” Thompson explains. “The facility is built for them. I think what a lot of men like to have is a lot of information beforehand. Men often think we’re supposed to know the answers to everything and not show fear. Men need to be walked through the spa experience.”

But perhaps the best thing guys can do, Thompson adds, is speak up when they don’t know what’s going on.

“You have a right as a guest to always ask lots of questions,” he says. “The simple one would be should I leave my underwear on? The answer is, if you’re comfortable taking them off, take them off. If not, leave them on.

“Don’t be afraid to go back and say I didn’t hear what you said, I need you to repeat it again.”

And lastly, relax. It’s been a tough year, work is hard, your handicap is suffering because your boss insists on keeping you through your regular post-work golf game, and the Leafs show no signs of improvement.

It’s time for a little pampering.