Tipping at spas in South Africa is not compulsory. Some foreign visitors believe in thanking their therapist with a small gratuity, others feel that what they are paying for their treatment is sufficient. There really are no rights or wrongs when it comes to tipping at spas. For further insight into the matter, we chatted to some professionals in the industry.

Did you know?

Many South African spas are committed to training and empowering women to become involved in the spa industry.

Tipping in general provides the traveller with an awkward dilemma. Is it expected or not?

According to an article on spa etiquette, published in Conde Nast Traveller, tipping really depends on where you are from. The Japanese don’t tip at all apparently, Russians generally give 10%, Turkish visitors give 15% and Finnish visitors also don’t believe in tipping.

We spoke to a number of local spa managers for some insight into whether you should tip when using the facilities at a spa in South Africa.

Berenice Madyara, spa manager at Mount Grace in the Magaliesberg, says that tipping is entirely at the guests’ own discretion. And spa managers at the One&Only Cape Town and Majeka House are in full agreement: it's up to the individual and what they would like to offer as a tip.

Chantelle Parsons, group operations manager of Amani Spas, says: ‘South Africans have always been proud of their hospitality, and the warmth of our people is internationally renowned. Tipping in our hospitality industry has never been enforced, and mostly remains voluntary, at the guest’s discretion.'

She says that a rule-of-thumb average for a tip is 10 to 15%. ‘A tip is considered a gift or reward for a job well done by Amani’s staff, rather than an expectation. When a tip is given, management ensures that it is openly handed to the employee concerned, which motivates other staff members to go the extra mile, and prevents any form of dispute.'

Dr Nadine de Freitas, executive director of the South African Spa Assocation, says: 'Guests may be confused or concerned when checking out of the spa, uncertain whether or not to tip and how much is appropriate. Tipping at a spa is similar to tipping at restaurants at a rate of approximately 10%. It is discretionary and is appreciated by spa service providers as recognition for a job well done.'

So the bottom line is you don't have to, but if you choose to leave a tip then it will be highly appreciated and 10% will suffice.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The South African Spa Association
Tel: +27 (0)11 447 9959
Email: info@saspaassociation.co.za

What will it cost

A massage will set you back approx. R450 for an hour. A pedicure usually starts at approx. R180, and a manicure from R250 (rough estimates).

Length of stay

Each spa operates differently. Make sure you know the opening and closing times. Generally, spas work on a booking system so you will have to make a reservation.