What You Should be Aware of Before You Build a Spa

By Casey Olsen Owner, Spa Sources | June 15, 2010

The inclusion of a health spa within your project is almost always a great idea and will definitely offer your property a competitive entity. Certainly, in today's resorts a spa is a must. The business traveler, as well as the vacation or weekend guest now insists on having the ability to experience spa amenities. There have been so many spas built in the past 10 to 15 years, and many have done it well, however, far too many have made costly design errors. I can walk into a spa facility and design errors emanate immediately. The number one issue that is continually overlooked by the architects of record on these projects is flow. It seems that if an architect has not experienced numerous spas first hand, and by experienced, I mean actually have been a guest and used the spa services often, they do not possess the necessary experience that will provide them with all the nuances of what makes a health spa facility a success, from both an aesthetic view and an operational view.

This is why so many developers have contacted our consulting firm for guidance and direction. They understand that spending a few dollars initially on getting a review of drawings from those who have actually run large and successful spas is money well spent. They understand that to do the homework prior to construction may avoid costly design errors in the future.

So, your first step is to find a greatly experienced consultant that has operated and run spas. Personally, I have been brought in on projects following the design process and recommended drastic changes to the drawings so that the owner/developer does not have concentrated operational concerns, as well as, liability issues after opening the facility.

A fast growing arena in the spa realm is the high rise condo market. Most of the newly planned facilities have realized the need to provide a spa for their residents, however, many have underestimated both the size of the facility and the potential to create a unique experience for their property owners. Once again, contacting that consultant that has years of development experience will provide these projects with the appropriate information that applies to this kind of development.

Once the layout of the spa is finalized, your immediate next phase is to acquire FF&E bids from your consultant. Since this industry took off, there have been tremendous advances in all areas of spa equipment, product and amenities, however, buyer beware. Having an assistant in your office go to a trade show and acquire vendor information, is not the best path towards achieving a cost efficient equipping process. From the procurement of linen, uniforms, skin care product, staff uniforms, treatment product and equipment to the pens, pencils, computer scheduling systems, and on and on, there is a wisdom of the industry needed at this phase. And also, there are some consultants, I am sad to say, that take advantage of the developer that is unaware of these costs. In every industry these individuals exist and unfortunately, this is true as well with some spa consultants.

It is advised that the developer have their support staff review and check all pricing recommended by any advisor they may have on the project. Calling the vendors provided by the consultant directly and obtaining their price lists is a good practice and the competent and reliable consultant should welcome this.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.