Denise Vitiello is the director of the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City.

A hotel spa treatment is pretty cushy by nature. But you can make the experience even more enjoyable if you plan ahead and ask the right questions.

  • Make reservations. Appointments fill up quickly, so request yours as soon as you book your room. Ask the spa director to recommend an aesthetician; she can schedule you with the best facialist or Reiki massage therapist in the hotel. Then arrange for all services and tips to be charged to the room.
  • Soak it up. …to fully enjoy the experience, show up 45 minutes early. Many spas…have saunas, color-therapy showers, pools with massage jets, and private lounges. These areas are regularly canvassed by someone who can offer you a cup of tea, a blanket, or salts for the tub.
  • Think locally. If you happen to be visiting an especially exotic place, pick a signature service that’s unique to the hotel’s location. For example, a trip to Indonesia calls for a seaweed body wrap…In Sante Fe, get a hot-stone massage or desert-clay treatment.
  • Do it your way. If you’re tight on time or can’t quite decide on a treatment, many hotel spas offer day passes to their guests.

–Allure Magazine; August 6, 2009