New Trends in Spa Design

By Michael Bedner Chairman & CEO, Hirsch Bedner Associates | January 12, 2010

Spa design is about creating a sense of place, one that can be other worldly but also rooted in the location, the culture and customs. And one that promotes a sense of well being. Our belief is that people do come to the spa to change their outlook, so the spa must promote a sense of well being and calm so that guests leave feeling better than when they arrived. Working with a spa consultant, our goal is to create a long lasting design and d'ecor that's also highly functional and flexible and compliments and heightens the treatments offered and the guest experience.

In CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel in Chengdu, China, we were inspired by the 1933 novel Lost Horizon and Shangri-La, an idyllic, secluded mountain community that symbolizes utopia. Chi, the Chinese word used to describe the natural energy of the universe, is all about harmony and balance and all of the therapies used in the spa were based on Chinese and Himalayan wellbeing rituals and traditions. We also incorporated the brand's "spa within a spa" concept, where spa suites feature private bathing areas and herbal steam facilities and the use of aromatic herbs and fragrant oils.

Far from being a static entity, a spa is constantly evolving and changing, a sensual kaleidoscope of color, shapes, textures, materials, smells and treatments. While spa treatments may go in and out of fashion and ingredients for masks and body scrubs or teas are often seasonal in nature, the core design and d'ecor tenants remain the same.

1. Add value through long range planning.

Whether we're designing one spa at a resort or five urban hotels, we utilize the same design philosophy and a rigorous planning process. The design floor plan takes into account the guest experience from start to finish and insures that the treatment rooms contain the appropriate scale to handle the types of massages and treatments currently being offered as well as those that might be added in the future. Our planning process takes into account where the spa is now as well as one, three to eight years out. Obviously we want to make sure that the bones are strong, but we add value to our clients by making sure the design can withstand modification without a major investment into renovations.

2. Create a strong sense of place.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.