Spas have become part of people’s lifestyles. People are creating their home spa cocoons with special air jet and chromatherapy tubs, multi-head steam showers, aromatherapy candles, serenity music, mood lighting, "feel good" products, exercise equipment, personal trainers, in-home massage therapists, etc.
Dr. Judy Singer
As this lifestyle trend continues to grow, the challenge for the hospitality industry is to create spas that are "on-trend" in terms of matching what the guests want, need, hope for and expect. When planning a spa, the design criteria need to focus on creating an experience rather than a just a building.
The following are some of the key lifestyle and trend design ideas to consider when planning spa facilities, programs and experiences that are marketable and profitable:
- Create, orchestrate and deliver a unique spa "story": you need to play the role of the story-maker, producer, director, set decorator, wardrobe artist, actor, audience, etc. and make sure that everything you do is focused on creating "raving fans."
- More is not necessarily better. You don’t need to have a big, luxury, expensive spa with the "encyclopedia of international spa treatments." Sometimes you may be better off with a Simple, Pleasurable, Affordable approach that is more stress-free, non-intimidating and indigenous to your environment.
- Create facilities that are nurturing, relaxing oases of tranquility for your guests by paying attention to textures, aromas, lighting, sound, etc. At the same time, the flow needs to be operationally efficient for the staff and able to generate profits for the owner/operator. The spa does not need to be confined to what will fit within 4 walls. The spa can be as much about outdoor activities as it is about indoor treatments.
- Make sure the treatment rooms are flexible and multi-functional: they should accommodate a variety of treatments while being accessible to both male and female guests and staff members yet have a flow that allows for privacy.
- Train the staff to be "experience makers rather than order takers" …don’t just sell a treatment, create a memorable event. The spa is more about how you serve your guests than what kinds of services you offer.
- Customize and personalize the spa treatments so that you create an experience that touches all 5 senses with such precision and care that the guest transcends into a 6th sense which becomes their personal transformation journey. When you are able to connect to a guest on this level, you have established a USP that no other spa can duplicate or imitate.
When we look at big picture spa concepts, there are two in particular that we introduced many years ago. These concepts are becoming more prevalent in the spa, hospitality and mixed-use development arenas.
- The Hybrid Spa Concept. This combines the best features of the "spa resort" with those of the "resort spa." At the spa resort, people are focused on a "change my life" destination spa experience void of temptations. At the resort spa, the focus is more on a "feel good, look good, life is good" vacation. The hybrid approach gives you programming flexibility in order to maximize the appeal and utilization of the spa during slow times of the week and/or year. You can provide everything from a la carte treatments to multi-day themed or customized spa retreats.
- The Lifestyle Real Estate Concept. As spas become more main stream, and they are, people want to live in places that have a spa which gives them a quality of life; fitness and wellness activities; educational opportunities to learn and take responsibility for their well-being; purposeful leisure; an environment in which to rest; relax and feel re-stored; etc.
As you try to determine what your market wants and what your budget can afford, think in terms of creating a Special Personalized Approach that is a viable and marketable business in and of itself while also being a tangible asset to your "core" business of selling hotel room and/or selling real estate.
I invite readers to respond to my column and to bring to light any concerns or queries they have regarding spas, and I’ll be happy to respond.
With healthy regards,
Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. (HFD)
Judith L. Singer, Ed.D., ISHC, is the President & Co-Owner of Pompano Beach, Florida-based Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. (HFD) (www.hfdspa.com) an internationally recognized spa consulting company that specializes in the planning, marketing and management support services of spas for fine hotels and resorts, day spas and mixed-use developments. HFD is also actively involved in conducting economic and consumer spa research. Since its inception in 1983, HFD has been the consulting firm to over $650 million of completed spa projects. A partial list of clients includes: Little Dix Bay, Four Seasons Hulalai, Miraval, Malliouhana, Cranwell, Pinehurst, The Homestead, The Greenbrier, Bacara, Silverado, Delano, La Posada de Santa Fe and Hotel Crescent Court. Dr. Singer is also the past chairperson of The International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC). Ms. Singer can be contacted at 954-942-0049 or firstname.lastname@example.org