Resort Wellness Encounters
By Diana Mestre Founder, Mestre & Mestre Spa & Wellness Consulting | June 23, 2019
One of the biggest challenges facing any hotel that offers spa services is to attract guests to their facilities to enjoy a wellness experience, and particularly those people who do not usually seek a spa. Aiming to become more relevant to the consumers, hotels, and resorts are moving from functional platforms to experiential platforms, elevating the brand appreciation by offering avenues that connect in a deeper level with their guests.
It is this challenge that emerges as the source of inspiration to create a new way of understanding the role of wellness experiences in resorts & spas and how they will communicate a new vision of well-being that becomes a universal language for all guests.
To achieve a shared vision of wellness we must start by defining what is wellness. Well-being goes beyond a physical routine and a balanced diet. The wellness spectrum includes seven factors: (1) physical, (2) emotional, (3) spiritual, (4) intellectual, (5) occupational, (6) social and (7) environmental. How a resort addresses each factor is the key to creating unique wellness programs that can help guests connect with the feeling of well-being. By disconnecting from daily stress, obligations and the complications of our modern life, and reconnecting with nature and the art of living in the here and now may allow guests to rediscover a sense of awe, joy, fulfillment, peace, harmony, freedom, clarity, reverence and love for life.
Well-being begins at the moment we connect with nature, the land, its roots, its traditions, its colors, aromas and flavors, and encounter authentic and helpful staff always willing to share local stories that celebrate guests.
"Travelers are specifically looking for experiences that will change their perspective of the world". - Meghan Carty, Research Analyst at Skift
Grand Velas Resorts, Mexico
Resort Wellness Encounters is a program based on the Wellness Without Walls concept by Adria Lake founder of AW Lake Designs. The art of implementing spaces and moments that adds a new dimension to the overall resort experience will allow the hospitality Industry to respond to the fundamental value of ¨Redefining Wellness¨. Careful planning must be done to create transformative experiences in the 7 dimensions of well-being through 5 spaces that must be integrated, respected and promoted by resorts.
- Communal Wellness Spaces & activities.
- Introspecting Spaces.
- Sensory Spaces and moments.
- Unexpected gourmet moments.
- My personal Space with wellness options.
According to the Global Wellness Tourism Report 2018, 89% of wellness travelers are secondary wellness travelers, defined as a traveler who seeks to maintain wellness while traveling or who participates in wellness experiences while taking any type of trip for leisure or business.
Resort Wellness Encounters emerges from the need to create a new disruptive model that brings and delivers wellness options to the guest in a personalized format without imposing a dogma, program, diet, choice or a particular lifestyle. As described by Adria Lake, the spa membrane breaks and sprinkles the entire resort with wellness experiences, integrating wellness experiences in places like the lobby, the rooms, the restaurant, the gardens. Leaving behind the conventional linear, operative and rigid hospitality model allowing guests to become genuine explorers of wellness experiences that intrigue and allow them to have magical and unexpected moments.
For this purpose, the five space-moments of "well-being" are designed to meet different needs and, at the same time, are relevant and are not necessarily aimed at Spa fans. This, without a doubt, transcends what we know today as "Spa".
1. Communal Wellness Spaces and Activities
Open and fun spaces where guests can meet and interact in wellness communal activities. Interaction between people is a necessary ingredient to achieve well-being and when combined with a new activity that enhances guest´s experiences by bringing deeper meaning in the transformative search of a better and healthier lifestyle. Participating in a meditation class, enjoying a yoga class in the garden, walking meditation along the ocean shore, are the type of experiences and moments that redefine well-being.
Learning some meaningful words from the local language, dancing to the local sounds of the region, participating in painting workshops, pottery, bakery, and various handicrafts connect guests with their creative power and sense of accomplishment. The feeling of creating a dream catcher, learning how to bake a loaf of bread with the resort's chef, participating in the ancient cacao ritual with a shaman or shaping a clay mug, becomes deeply therapeutic.
2. Introspective Spaces
Spaces design for deep introspection, connection with nature and with oneself. Any resort can provide meditation nests hanging from a tree in the middle of a garden, bed loungers facing the ocean or the forest to read and reflect. An easel, a canvas, watercolors, and brushes can bring a great moment of inspiration. Spaces designed for silent contemplation located in a breathtaking area of the resort can provide a self-discovery moment that may have infinite value for the guest.
A simple element like hearing the healing sounds of wind chimes in the middle of the jungle, desert or garden becomes an intriguing space that provides healing vibrations. Reading spots, healing sounds, painting areas, labyrinth walks, meditation pods, distributed throughout the resort property brings a special encounter with wellness to all guest that chooses to explore a new dimension of well-being. Revealing the intention of these silent spaces requires a clear message with the appropriate indications and signs that communicate the objective of these spaces created for the self-reflection and discovery of the guest.
"People are seeking an extension of their journey toward conscious living when they travel". - Marcy Zaroff. Founder & CEO, MetaWear
3. Sensory Spaces
Spas are, by definition, the protagonists in sensory art; a dance of aromas, sounds, flavors, and architecture of the senses, brings authentic wellness experiences. Well-being is by nature a journey; a story of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exploration. The conceptual development in the process of the creation of the spa is fundamental to achieve the connection with the guests from the moment of their arrival until the moment of departure. Sensory moments are not unique to the spa; a resort can create sensory moments upon arrival with signature aromatic breezes during the check-in process.
Offering a sensory moment when the guest arrives from the stress of travel and giving them a choice of connecting with the healing hands of a body artisan or therapist with 3 minutes of acupressure in head, neck, and shoulders, marks the beginning of a wellness journey.
Sensory Healing Moments can occur during a group conference, during a wellness meeting at the main resort pool or in the privacy of a resort room, in a balcony or terrace during a beautiful sunset. Creating unexpected sensory moments requires imagination, attention to detail and preparation. As non-spa goers experience these sensory moments they will have a greater aperture to explore the full experience of the spa.
The old model of spas viewed as an amenity or remote place where you can get massages and facials is obsolete. Spas today tell authentic stories, reflect a deep respect for the history of the place, honor the culture and communicate in their treatments, embodied by the wisdom of ancestral traditions. In the middle of the dynamic and demanding evolution of our modern life, the spa is a temple of relaxation, an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual renewal, an opportunity to connect with nature and with our own healing power.
4. Unexpected Gourmet Moments
When hospitality is able to capture the guest´s attention and sense of awe by providing unexpected moments filled with delicious surprises, the resort becomes imprinted in the memory of their guest. When a resort puts in place personalized free gourmet experiences delivered by experts in hospitality in unexpected moment guests feel delighted. Refreshing frozen popsicles of frozen fruit bites, a healthy shot or lemonade, and chia, or a mango and maracuja shot offered at the pool terraces or lobby will awaken guest´s appreciation, and also can be part of a promotion strategy to present new delicatessens or recipes from a specialty restaurant.
Imagine a wellness experience planer approaching the guest with a new drink of fruit flavors while resting in a hammock or laying by the pool, can be delightfully surprising. A small gourmet plate with chocolate truffles or energy superfood bites that expectantly appear in the guest's room along with an invitation to try a new dish in the gourmet restaurant certainly will be noticed or celebrating a guest birthday or anniversary with a gourmet cake and candle. These experiences respond to the feeling of admiration that creates memorable moments.
5. My Personal Space with Wellness Options
Nothing can be as personal as a guest´s suite or resort room, where they can find a series of wellness options that are customized according to their needs and desires with selections of wellness rituals that are simple to implement and may be included or presented as an upgrade.
- Fit Box
A box or basket with yoga mats, rubber band, body balls, dumbbells, jump ropes, and exercise guide, in conjunction with the list of activities and programs at the Fitness center.
- Wellness Channel
A predetermined selection with exercise programs, meditation, and simple wellness tips plus the spa videos of various signature and locally based treatments.
- Healthy Minibar
A water menu with alkaline water, mineral water, coconut water, vitamin water, and a choice of healthy snacks like nuts, dry fruit, granola bar or protein bars.
- Morning Juicing
This ritual would include a morning suite service natural juice with different objectives such as detoxification, energization, sports, anti-aging, etc. A variety of juices that the Chef prepares for the guest as part of their wellness plan.
- Sleep Ritual
The guest selects the Sleep Kit that contains a mask, earplugs, essential oil for sleeping, an EMF blocker, a cell phone storage bag, and bath salts, various sleep technologies like Nikken can be added to the sleep ritual program.
- Healthy Pillows
Adding a selection of herbal, ergonomic feather or firm pillows to complement the sleep ritual options.
- Aromatherapy Options
Adding a selection of therapeutic grade aromatherapy oils like lavender, rosemary, cedar or basil with an electrical diffuser offered on turndown service.
- Meditation Rituals
They are provided with a guide of simple steps to learn to meditate with the MUSE (personalized meditation system) or a simple guide or a book on how to meditate.
- Gratitude Ritual
A local stone with a message placed on the side bed table with an intention guide card where guest can imprint their gratitude for the experiences and meaningful moments at the end of their stay they can take this stone as a gift.
- Beauty Ritual
Mini Beauty Kit and a guide on how to care for the skin featuring the regional or local skin care line that supports the local communities.
- Spa Rituals
From the water journey or guided water ceremonies to unique signature treatments that can be offered in the comfort of the resort suite or at the spa.
There is an infinite number of Resort Wellness Encounters that open a new dimension of well-being. This allows guests the opportunity to choose from a variety of experiences such as gourmet healthy options on the restaurant or room service men. Exercise gear in the hotel room, interactive communal wellness activities where guest shares experiences with other guests in the botanical herbal blending bar.
Exchanging new meditation techniques, walking with locals guides and storytellers that bring alive the local culture of the land, excursions to the organic markets with the resort´s chef. Personal encounters with silent spaces that allow guests to discover their creativity on a painting canvas or enjoying a moment of introspection in a meditation nest, or a shamanic cleansing ritual with copal at the spa. All of these and many more creative options are needed to enrich the overall experiences of the guest that raises brand recognition and loyalty.
Grand Velas Resorts in Mexico (www.grandvelas.com) is embracing and implementing Resort Wellness Encounters by offering to their guests a unique program under their wellnessing concept with the intent to add a new dimension to their gourmet and luxurious resort experiences.
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