When visiting a new-to-me city or country, I try to get a massage. From the scheduling process to the closing of the session, I hope to find something unique during the experience to incorporate into my practice.
The article "Air travel: effects of sleep deprivation and jet lag," presents some of the the side effects from crossing several time zones. It mentions how jet lag impairs cognitive ability. With this in mind, when I traveled recently to Vienna, Austria, I made an appointment for a massage to help combat jet lag. The hotel's spa offered a variety of massage services; I selected the 60 minute "Be Well" service.
When I arrived 15 minutes before the start of the session, the therapist remarked on my early arrival then gave me a robe and slippers after walking with me to the locker room. After changing, I returned to the lobby where the therapist ushered me to the softly lit treatment room furnished simply with a massage table, a comfy armchair and a floor lamp with shelving.
The session proceeded as usual. The therapist stepped out of the room while I got situated on the table. After a few minutes, the therapist knocked at the door and asked for permission to enter the room. She stepped into the room, adjusted the covering then initiated the massage.
The massage session seemed very similar to a Swedish massage. Lots of oil applied to my body before the therapist executed long, flowing strokes. Most muscle groups received attention; my abdominal muscles, face, scalp and diaphragm were left untouched. With minimal verbal communication, the session proceeded and succeeded in helping my muscles and mind relax into a deep sleep.
At the end of the service, the therapist gently woke me from my slumber then left the treatment room. I slowly made my way back to the locker room. I enjoyed the session and highly recommend the "Be Well" service. The following week, I scheduled another "Be Well" session with a different therapist. The second session with a male therapist proceeded in the same manner as described above; except, I arrived only five minutes before my appointment.
The following observations might be useful if you choose to visit a spa in Vienna:
- An intake process (i.e., therapist asking for your specific reason for getting a massage and any areas to avoid such as irritated skin) wasn't used. The therapist conducted the massage based on the selected service without asking about my current health (e.g., injuries, medical conditions).
- I arrived early to complete the intake forms before the session began. Unlike in the USA where spas ask you to arrive early to complete required forms (click here to read some reasons why intake forms are used), I wasn't given a health history form, a consent form or any other form to be completed.
- In the Washington DC area, most massage tables are covered with sheets which are used to cover parts of your body which are not being addressed by the therapist. For example, when the therapist is applying massage techniques to your arms, then your legs and midsection are usually covered with the sheet. In Vienna, Austria, a bath towel was provided for covering my body. The therapists generally used the same draping principles as used in the DC metro area with a smaller cloth.
- For me, music plays a major part in a massage session. For this session, a music player - like a "boom box" appeared on a shelf; however, it wasn't emitting any sound. When I asked for music, it was turned on. Please remember to let your therapist know what you want in your session to make it more relaxing for you.
These observations note differences in how massage services are offered in Vienna when compared to the DC metro area. In my opinion, they underline the less litigious nature of the society (e.g., not required to complete numerous legal forms) and the reliance on the client to understand if they have conditions which are not suitable for massage and to communicate any concerns before the session begins. If you're staying at the Vienna Marriott, I recommend their "Be Well" massage.