10/17/2012 04:57 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

Spa Tips to Prepare for the FLOTUS

When it comes to spa-ing I admit that I am a major pain in the you-know-what. Bravo's Real Housewives have nothing on me when it comes to spa-ing. I can out-diva any of them (but in a nice way). I've never worked on a FLOTUS, but as an award-winning esthetician and international spa consultant, I know what I like. I can't imagine (sans security) it would be that different from Mrs. O.

I have no problem requesting an esthetician who understands the needs of my brown skin and a senior or award-winning therapist for my body treatments. I would think that Michelle Obama's personal assistant would request as much for her. Why would anyone want less? Would your spa pass muster in this regard?

There are certain amenities and qualities which I look for that would satisfy most folks, probably even a FLOTUS. It may surprise you that while luxurious surroundings are always a plus, it is not always my primary requirement. I must also mention that I am not of fan of the one-size-fits-all spa robes. Act like you know, and stock your locker room accordingly, please. Prepare properly for the "bootylicious-ness" that may be headed your way.

Here is my personal checklist that I use before recommending a spa to my friends and clients.

1. I want to be engaged in conversation and be seen as an individual. I want your therapists to be knowledgeable enough to answer questions about my skin and know what they are talking about. I want for them to educate me and delight me with information about some new advancement or offering at your hotel/spa that they think might interest me, and not just because it's the "item of the week." I don't want robotics, and I don't want to be patronized.

2. I want more than a perfunctory peek through the loupe at my skin. A good skin analysis can shock a client into becoming a facial believer. Skin can reveal a lot. I can tell from looking through my magnifying lamp how much stress, water, pizza and sleep my clients have taken in. I want someone who has enough expertise and life experience to do the same for me.

3. I want to receive the appropriate facial or treatment. Often, clients will book a service because it is familiar or sounds exotic. It isn't necessarily always the best treatment for their skin. I want a therapist who is sharp and knowledgeable enough to recommend what is correct, even if what they are selecting costs less. This is a sign of integrity and expertise and will always endear me, bring me back for more and inspire me to rave about you on social media.

4. I want the correct and appropriate products used on my skin. I find that estheticians who have not been trained to work on ethnic skin cannot confidently select the right products to use. Because their references are European, their techniques may also be too aggressive. Having a skincare professional cause hyperpigmentation (dark marks) is inexcusable and a direct result of insufficient training. I want to be able to trust my facialist enough to doze off and wake up with my skin glowing, not damaged.

5. I want recommendations for home care. Recommending a home care program or product means that you are invested enough in me as your client to want my skin to look good post-service. A clever therapist knows that product sales are a way to stay connected to the client. I personally love receiving follow-up calls or notes inquiring about my skin. One of my therapists from the Oberoi Rajvilas in India checks in with me frequently on Facebook. She will be my first stop when I'm in that part of the world again.

So, for all of the above-mentioned qualities, how many did your spa meet? If the number is three or less, then maybe it's time to redirect your renovation budget, stop slapping gold leaf on everything and reset. Think about investing more of your money and time in staff training. After all, you never know when the FLOTUS might decide to visit.

Linda Harding is President of Moontide Consulting..