When I lived in New Orleans 15 years ago, Belladonna had a reputation as being one of the best spas in town. I did not have the income then to enjoy many visits to Belladonna, but was very much looking forward to a return visit to Belladonna when I was in town January of 2012.
Perhaps I should have known not to expect great things at Belladonna when I called to schedule a mani and pedi a week ahead and was told that spa was waiting to hear back as to whether a technician scheduled to be out on the day I planned to schedule would have someone to replace her... The woman I spoke with said she could book the mani and promised to call me Tuesday about availability for the pedi. This sounded fine, except no one called Tuesday (or ever) about that pedicure.
So, from the start I encountered less-than stellar customer service at Belladonna, but I simply planned ahead and had my toes done before I arrived in NOLA. I showed up for my mani as scheduled and found I had been assigned to a nail technician who by way of greeting scowled at me and demanded, "ARE YOU [NAME]?" I admitted that I was indeed and she sat me down and picked up a file that had obviously been used on many other clients. Noticing that the cuticle sticks at hand were stained with polish, I asked the nail tech to use new implements for my manicure. She grunted and spat, "We clean them every day!" (Every day -- really? Not between clients? And how do you clean non-metal nail file or cuticle sticks? These certainly did not look clean.) Tech then proceeded to throw the file on the table and push back in her chair, ostensibly to retrieve clean/new implements -- but I must say I thought she looked completely lost, almost as though she had no idea where on the premises one might locate clean/new files, etc.
Since I did not feel like bleeding, I opted NOT to allow an insolent and aggressive individual to come at me with sharp instruments (no matter how clean they might allegedly be) and made to depart. I heard the tech tell the woman manning the front desk that I was leaving, so I turned around to share WHY. The tech's fellow employee could NOT have cared less that a customer was leaving in distress 45 seconds into her appointment. I got a blank look and a blink and decided it was not worth even getting into it. I walked to the Walgreen's down the street, purchased polish, etc., and gave myself a lovely manicure.
As I am sure you have deduced, I will not be returning to Belladonna for any reason, ever. I have mani-pedis every two weeks and it is standard practice in the spas I visit to use NEW cuticle sticks, files, razors, etc for each client, as well as metal implements (cuticle, nippers, nail clippers, etc) that have been STERILIZED -- after every client, not "every day". Anything less is unsanitary and, frankly, unconscionable. Just because other clients are unaware of the risks of sharing implements with total strangers and do not insist on new/clean tools does not excuse spa owners or employees who cut costs by reusing items that cost pennies each when purchased in bulk and only bother to sterilize instruments daily.
I would like to think that my experience was an aberration for Belladonna, but the fact that no one called to followup after this incident makes me think it is the norm, or certainly not unheard of. One expects a bit of pampering at a well-regarded spa; it was extremely disappointing to find a lack of basic respect and cleanliness at Belladonna.