Rethinking the Property Spa Can Promote Hotel Wellness

By Diego Lowenstein Chief Executive Officer, Lionstone Development | May 28, 2017

There is no question that the way spas are viewed and used has evolved significantly over the centuries. In ancient times, entire towns sprung up around mineral-rich springs where people used that water to facilitate healing for a variety of different ailments. In fact, many believe the word itself is an acronym derived from the Latin phrase "Sanus Per Aquam," meaning "Health Through Water."

Today, spas are no longer just about healing the body, they have evolved into a wellness and leisure experience with a wide range of treatments, products, and services that promote relaxation and physical, mental and emotional wellness-and the industry continues to change and progress.

When done right, hotel owners can use a spa to tap into a valuable market and enhance the hospitality experience by restoring mindfulness and overall well-being for patrons. This, in turn, can earn repeat guests and positively impact the property's bottom line. That's why it's so important for hotel owners to stay ahead of evolving industry trends and guest expectations, and avoid common pitfalls when developing or renovating an on-site spa.

Differentiate Through Unique Treatments and Products

Owners who successfully differentiate their hotels typically have a strategic advantage, and spa treatments remain a terrific way to stand out from the competition. Clients, particularly in the upscale resort sector, are clearly looking for interesting alternatives and a cutting-edge experience. To avoid run-of-the-mill spa offerings, some hotels may now promote one particular product or a unique treatment.

For example, spas that work with wine or olive oil have that differentiating factor from others in the sector. Keeping that in mind during the recent spa renovation at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, we made sure to bring in new alternative treatment equipment with unique uses of mud and water, and provide fun treatments like the "Miami Detox" and the "Night Out On The Town," so we could amplify our services for our guests.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.