We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

questionable massage?

Midwest
12 posts
Save Topic
questionable massage?

I got a massage last week while staying at a luxury hotel, in my hotel room. Didn't think a thing about it as therapist was recommended by hotel staff, and I am accusstommed to massage at home weekly. Therapist was male, which again, did not bother me, as my local therapist is male also. What bothered me was that by USA standards it was very inappropriate. Is it customary in other countries for a therapist to rub your breasts? Leave your entire upper body exposed? I was wondering if I was being a prude, I was so embarrassed. The guy didn't speak English. It was very awkward, also he didn't have any change and in my haste to get him out of my room I overpaid him. Should I let the hotel know, or am I just unaware about what a massage in a foreign country is like?

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
819 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: questionable massage?

a proper massage is the same the world over: rubbing breasts is not part of it.

even in parts of Europe, where hotel and spa saunas are co-ed and nude, in a massage situation you will be strategically covered.

your instinct was correct!

new york
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: questionable massage?

I agree that it is inappropriate, BUT, my friends just got back from belize and the same exact thing happened to her. It seems strange to hear this story twice from central america. Maybe there is something we don't know???

Canada
Level Contributor
2,105 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: questionable massage?

I think a good massage should never make you feel awkward. It should be professional and you should be covered at all times. You should put in a complaint.

Maybe call a registered therapist and see what they have to say about it.

Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
319 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: questionable massage?

I am bumping this post because I would like more opinions on this. I had a very similar experience as the original poster did and I felt very uncomfortable.

Any other opinions, insight??

TN
Level Contributor
182 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: questionable massage?

If you know it was wrong you should say "no thanks" just do my back half and keep your breats covered. And if that would have offended him then obviously he would be trying to take advantage of the situation. I would let the hotel know about it though.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
819 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: questionable massage?

I am willing to learn: I did some googling and found that breast massage, although in very specifically prescribed circumstances, is actually beneficial. look forward to an MD or therapist perhaps commenting.

Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
319 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: questionable massage?

Although a breast massage may be medically beneficial in certain instances, I'm wondering if it is appropriate without this technique being explained by the therapist first. In other words, should this "technique" be a part of the massage if it was not requested, or at least discussed first? I cannot find any info on massage therapy schools training to preform this type of massage without it being requested by the client (in the US, or otherwise).

Still curious if anyone else shared this experience....

Tampa, FL
Destination Expert
for San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
2,234 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: questionable massage?

You can rationalize this all you want but there is not much question in my mind what was going on here. I did some Googling too and this is some of what I came up with.

First regarding breast massage, here is just a couple of the many detailed and informative articles on it:

everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1756216

www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/01/03.html

The common thread in all these articles is that, yes, there is such a thing as therapeutic breast massage, but what was described above does not meet the basic professional standards laid out for therapists by those articles (in our country at least). The therapist should explain what they intend to do beforehand and receive the client's consent. Not done here. It should be done only when there is a rapporte established between therapist and client where the client can trust the therapist and both parties can feel comfortable doing it. And that was clearly not the case here either. In fact, it is hard to imagine where any client seeing a therapist for the very first time would feel comfortable with this procedure. And finally it should be done in as non-erogenous manner as possible. Again, while the exact "technique" was not described in detail, it doesn't sound like it was completely innocent or 3tonks probably wouldn't have had the gut reaction she did. And finally, whether she had the self-assertiveness to speak up and protest or not, the therapist should have sensed the unease and stopped what he was doing. Maybe the standards are different in a place like CR. OTOH, it is supposedly a Catholic country and regardless of what the local standards might be this guy operating in a luxury hotel should be familiar what the expectations of his gringa clients would be. Or maybe, in general, he is...

So if "therapy" was not the intent, what was. I think that seems obvious and you don't even really need to Google to figure it out (but I did anyway). Check out these articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_tourism

http://www4.ncsu.edu/~twallace/Kimball.pdf

There are many gringa who visit places like CR expressly for the purpose of "hooking up" with the local men. Evidentally, for some women, there is something about being on vacation and away from the constraints of their normal everyday life that leads to identity loss (aka letting one's hair down and doing things they would never do at home). I'm not suggesting 3tonks was one of these women, but this tico may not have known that. Ticos know that there are many gringas who are open to such advances and are often on the prowl for potential candidates. In CR these ticos are known as Sharks (in Jamaica they're called renta-rastas and in the Dom Rep. they're called skanky-pankies). The polite term for this is "romance tourism" but it has another label that won't make it past the forum's censors and while it is more widespread in places like Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean (including the east coast of CR), it is not that uncommon in places like Quepos.

To answer 3tonk's question, I'd definitely let the hotel know, whatever the interests of some other women might or might not be, that you were not interested in that type of massage, it made you uncomfortable and you should not have been subjected to it. If they aren't informed, how will they know what is going on so that they can do something about it. Maybe they'll stop recommending him. Or maybe they recommended him because some guests like whatever he did for them. But at the very LEAST if they do continue to recommend him they should insist that he ASK first BEFORE attempting such a procedure, or if he can't speak English at least gesture in some way what he intends to do, and get the client's assent or else simply not do it.

Swansea, MA
Level Contributor
337 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: questionable massage?

I had a maasage by a female and there was no breast rubbing and she kept me covered.

Midwest
12 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: questionable massage?

Thank you so much for your reply. I am definitely contacting the hotel for the exact reasons you set forth. I was travelling w/ my husband, and children, so can't imagine I would've been profiled by the hotel as a woman on a romance vacation, though I'm sure it happens. Just the fact that I requested a massage in my room might put me in the category I suppose, though I hope that isn't the case. The articles you mention will help me in crafting my letter to them. Thanks again.

There have been a couple of comments made now as to why I didn't protest if I was offended. While not offended by the comments, it feels a little like blaming the victim...like I was asking for it. I can't explain why I didn't protest. I was totally uncomfortable, but the first thought that went through my mind was that I was being a prude and that in other countries it might be the norm.

As someone at high risk for breast cancer (both my sister and my mother were recently diagnosed and in treatment) I know there are specific regimens for therapeutic breast massage. Maybe for this reason I tried to keep an open mind to the process. Whatever, I can't explain my lack of action in any other way, except to say I was taken by surprise.

So, yes, I'm contacting the hotel. Is there anybody else I should contact?

I thank all of you for your comments. I have definitely learned a lesson here....BUYER BEWARE. In the future, I will not go blindly into any kind of body treatment without discussing what it entails up front (so to speak).

Get answers to your questions about Quepos