How Asset & Financial Managers Maximize the Spa's Potential

By Judy Singer President & Co-Owner, Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. | September 02, 2012

We all know that it is very expensive to develop, market and operate a spa. All too often, the spa is a “lazy asset” to a lodging/real estate venture. In our 30 years of business as a spa consulting company, HFD has always been a persistent promoter and advocate on how spas are profit centers in and of themselves as well as marketing tools to sell rooms, real estate, etc. I am still amazed and disheartened to see how many lodging operators are still unaware of and not committed to maximizing the spa’s potential to be a departmental profit center as well as a tangible asset to the “core” business of selling rooms and/or real estate.

It’s difficult to understand how people can spend millions of dollars to build a spa and not operate and market it to its full potential. Perhaps they just don’t know what to do and what to expect because their experience, expertise and “comfort zone” is more with rooms and F&B than with the spa. We do know that without knowledge, expectations are low and, therefore, results are low. The spa can and should be a profitable and marketable asset, not a waste of valuable real estate or an expensive, under-performing asset that detracts from rather than adds to the overall guest experience and financial viability of the property.

On a positive note, in the last few years, we have seen a heightened focus on the spa as an increasingly important component to the overall success of the property. This is primarily due to the valuable role of enlightened asset managers and astute directors of finance. I asked 4 financial experts to answer 3 questions regarding what they do to help their clients maximize the spa’s potential as both a business unit and an added dimension to the overall core lodging/real estate business. Three of our four experts are asset managers and members of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (www.ishc.com ). Our 4th expert is the Director of Finance at a luxury urban hotel that does not have an outside asset manager. I am sure you will find their advice to be insightful and valuable…and hopefully easy to apply to your spa and hospitality business.

  • Matt Arrants, Managing Director Pinnacle Advisory Group and ISHC Member
  • Rich Warnick, Principal Warnick & Co. and ISHC Member
  • Chad Crandell, President CHM and ISHC Member
  • Ben Campsey, Director of Finance, CPA, MBA, CHAE The Umstead Hotel & Spa

EXPECTATIONS

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.