How To Set Your Spa’s Ambiance

After a stressful day, you walk into a welcoming spa, the door has a cute bell to signal to the employees of your presence, there is natural light flowing in from the large, glass-pane windows into the waiting room with tasteful oak floors, stylish seating, colorful flowers in well-shaped vases, classy magazine lay-outs, a friendly receptionist, and most of all, Otis Sprunkmeyer cookies. As you saunter into the massage rooms, you can’t help but be pleasantly overwhelmed with scents of incense and essential oils, and in contrast to the waiting room basking in the effortlessly joyful and bright sunlight, the room is dimly lit with candles, setting the mood for relaxation. After you get your well-deserved massage in a place of paradise, you feel more relaxed than ever coming back out into the parking lot.

Sounds nice? This could be your spa. Only if you thought about it a little more. Here are some of our tips to help you achieve the perfect ambiance that you want at the office to set the mood, make your customers happy, and find the sweet spot of ideal relaxation.

Countless studies have proven that a massage location’s atmosphere can influence the decisions a customer makes. These decisions can make or break your business. The decision to come back, the decision to add a few extras to the experience, the decision to tell their friends and family about you, or the decision to pay extra to try the expensive massage table can be the difference between you getting more clients than you can handle, and you struggling and waiting at the door, wondering why no one is coming. So how can you influence these decisions?

The number one rule is to apply to all five senses.

1.) Hearing - Music

Playing sounds that fit the ~vibes~ that you’re looking for in your spa is a great start in setting up your ambiance. 

You might want to choose music that is more calming rather than upbeat, vulgar, or a little too unconventional. You could even employ whale noises or beach sounds to give your spa an even more relaxing feel. Health elaborates how nature sounds can enable a more relaxing feel that can provide health benefits with evidence from research done at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The results found that it can improve focus and concentration, give individuals a state of wakefulness, and overall increase the relaxation reflex. Make sure music is more in the background though, and make sure it enhances your spa’s experience. 

However, because more males are present in spas lately by a report done by the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) where 2021 market data showed that 25% of men and 21% of women got a massage in the last year, you might want to consider these demographic changes into your music choice. Women are not the individuals dominating the consumer population anymore, and you may consider shaking things up a bit with correlating your new sounds with changes in your demographics

In the lobby area, you could even switch up the music a little to be more upbeat than the actual massage rooms. This might be useful because according to American Spa, music that is too relaxing in the receptionist area might delay clients from booking another appointment or committing to purchases.

2.) Smelling - Scents

Scents are incredibly imperative in having a full spa experience. It adds a nice touch, but don’t get too carried away and do not make it too concentrated. Also, this element can vary based on seasons and holidays, giving people a wider range of feelings and atmospheres that coincide with what’s happening outside. The three main ways to put some tasteful scents in your spa are through essential oils, incense, or candles.

  • Essential Oils: Healthline defines essential oils as “often used in aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine that employs plant extracts to support health and well-being.” They can stimulate emotions, behaviors, and even long-term memory by stimulating the limbic system that is also connected to other important physiological functions. Some really popular flavors for these essential oils include peppermint, lavender, sandalwood, bergamot, rose, and chamomile. 

  • Incense: First utilized in practice for ancient rituals, incense has been popularized in the western world. According to Healthline, there are a myriad of health benefits to the burning of incense including lowering stress, possible decreases in anxiety and depression, and anti-inflammatory responses; however, there are some possible health complications that could come along with it if it is being used too much including wheezing, lung cancer, and increased risk of high blood pressure.

  • Candles: There is nothing more nostalgic than the traditional candle. They come in all different scents and are a viable option if you want a little more spunk in your spa. Not only do they come with scent, but they offer dim lighting to set the mood and the varying heights and colors can set the decor of the room.

3.) Seeing - Decor

  • Color Aesthetics

Look for colors that are easy on the eyes, some light pastels, green and blue, and colors that reflect soft light. You could even employ a color scheme throughout (walls, furniture, floors, etc.)

  • Artwork

Some visual variation can give your setting a little more spark here and there. It can give some bold breaks from the rest of your color scheme and add more character to your establishment.

  • Lighting

Improving the light situation (putting more natural light in, maybe with some more windows or more transparent curtains, putting light fixtures (but not too many) under tables, bottoms or tops of walls, etc.). You could also get some candles for some of the massage rooms to create a more dimly lit atmosphere. Additionally, add some low-intensity lights in the corridors to guide guests to their relaxation destination. Music isn’t the only thing that affects the client’s emotions. The lighting can be a huge contributor as well. A study by Science Daily states that the lighting of a room does indeed affect the decisions we make. The study found that brighter lighting led to more intense emotions from the participants, while dimmer, softer lighting led the participants to feel more muted emotions. This affects the decisions the customers make, in that brighter lights can make people more decisive, while dimmer lights can change the types of decisions the customers make. This can be used in your reception area and your massage rooms. If you want customers to consider adding more to their massage experience (and spending more), you should consider making your reception area dimmer.

  • Plants

Bringing more natural decor into your spa can add to visual aesthetic and make the area more breathable and welcoming with something else living occupying the space. It can also give more variation in shapes and sizes within the place as well as promote a more relaxing environment.

  • Furniture

Your furniture in the waiting room should reflect stylish choices that keep any thematic interior design aesthetics that you’re striving to achieve. Additionally, they should be comfortable for your clients.

Overall, your spa should look like an art piece itself

4.) Touching - Spa Luxuries

  • Fluffy towels

Comfortable, well-textured, and squeaky clean linens is a must-have for any spa business. It will increase your professionalism and appeal to your customers’ preference towards comfort and want for luxury.

  • The Massage Experience!

Obviously when you go to a spa, you want to physically feel uplifted. Providing a good massage is the number one goal. Scratch that, providing the perfect, most amazing massage is the make or break of your spa business.

  • Comfortable equipment

Finding the right tools and massage beds to use is crucial. Certain materials, structures, paddings, and add-ons will have differing levels of comfort. Make sure you test which is best and be empathetic to your clients.

  • Lastly is temperature. Temperature can be manipulated in various ways in the massage room, but one thing that is almost guaranteed to make a lasting impression on your clients is a heated massage table. This can be a tall order for some massage owners, as it requires extra spending, but given that few massage businesses do this, it is a solid way to make your massage business stand out. Whether you have the budget to upgrade your table collection to have built-in heating, or you only want to get heated massage blankets for each table, offering a heated massage is sure to make a lasting impression on all of your clients.

5.) Tasting - Snacks

The perfect way to encapsulate our last sense is to provide tasty or healthy snacks in order to round out the ideal spa ambiance. You can do this in a few ways that are classy and extremely welcoming to your clients coming in. Firstly, you can do water. Offering free bottles of water from brands with decorated bottles always does the trick. It shows your customers that you care about their hydration, and it gives your clients more reason to enjoy their experience. To spice things up, you could even offer sparkling water like Perrier or La Croix, brands that scream class and luxury relaxation. If you want to go the extra mile and really pull out the stops, I would suggest having a nice and large beverage dispenser that you fill with flavored water. You can juice it up with some lemon, lime, raspberry, or other types of fruit. A good Speaking of fruit, you could have a fruit bowl in the waiting room full of delicious oranges, apples, bananas, etc. that would also give another pop of color to your spa. If you want to really up the ante, I would recommend providing cookies for the waiting room, specifically those from Otis Spunkmeyer (really great texture, portion size, and flavor), or you could put out other baked goods and treats like muffins or coffee. It can give a little indulgent treat to your clients who are looking for a break from their lives of stress. If you’re looking for something a little healthier, another option is to give out little bags of trail mix to get the “eat healthy” message across. You could get trail mix in bulk at Costco, but why not try something a little more unconventional and trendier? You could have a more personalized trail mix by making it yourself. The possibilities are endless here, and provide snacks that fit your spa style and how you want to project the spa’s image onto your customers.


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Create a Relaxing Spa Atmosphere in 8 Simple Steps (

Spa design: The atmosphere in a hotel spa (

Lighting advice: create a relaxing atmosphere in wellness and spa areas (

Perrier® Carbonated Mineral Water | Perrier International

Fruit-Flavored Water Recipe | Allrecipes

LaCroix - Naturally Essenced Sparkling Water (

4 Fatal Mistakes Most Spas Make | American Spa

What is the Best Spa Music to Play at Your Business? (

Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science |

Music and Gender

What Are Essential Oils, and Do They Work? (

What Is Incense? Ingredients and Facts (

The way a room is lit can affect the way you make decisions -- ScienceDaily