Hotel Spa: Front and Center

The Spa/Wellness movement that exploded a few years back continues to reverberate and expand. Once considered to be an "add on" (which was often relegated to an unused space in the hotel basement), spas are now front and center within the hospitality industry, and hotel management is realizing just how much a luxurious spa can contribute to the bottom line. Room rates are higher. Bar tabs are higher. Food checks are higher. In addition, guests now frequently choose a hotel based on its available spa services, so having a spa within the facility can provide significant financial returns. Plus, guests are using those services in new and novel ways. Some guests are requesting treatments upon arrival (as a way to counter jetlag or to kickstart productivity) and they are often booking their sessions through a hotel app. Some hotels are even offering free massages upon check-in as an inducement to stay. Still other guests are building their entire travel and vacation plans around exotic spa and wellness experiences and of those, thermal hot springs are currently very popular. More and more people are seeking out thermal hot springs as an affordable, social and naturally therapeutic spa experience. Honeymooning couples are seeking out spa packages designed just for them. Couples massages, aromatherapy treatments and nutritious cooking classes make for a romantic and healthy honeymoon they can both enjoy together. Other leading spas are offering stress management courses, classes in meditation and yoga, anti-aging treatments, and spa services designed specifically for men. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on all these trends and developments and examine how hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.

Library Archives

Mark Sherwin

Sonesta offers casual dining with a sense of place throughout its US hotels, embracing local inspiration shared through our menus. In this article, the culinary teams share the results of their efforts to bring local flavor and authentic cuisine to our guests. Sonesta takes its menu inspiration from the destination - sourcing locally whenever possible and sharing the passion of the members of its culinary team. Our casual dining restaurants and outlets provide an experience of the locale through choices of regional items to be highlighted and the indigenous produce and seasonings used to deliver a plate to remember. READ MORE

Nikheel Advani

Luxury travel was once associated with formality, but in today's modern world that notion is changing. More and more, high-end travelers are placing value on comfort, quality time, personalized service and unexpected experiences. These expectations apply to every aspect of the hotel-guest experience, particularly when it comes to dining.To stay au courant, five-star resorts must challenge their perceptions of luxury food and wine by constantly developing new concepts that delight and surprise guests. Hotels can continuously surpass their guests' expectations by redefining industry standards. Gone are the days of stuffy dinner jackets and full course meals in formal dining rooms. READ MORE

Robert Hood

Formal dining rooms conjure up an image of great state and formal occasions when glamour, over-pricing and the prestigious and almost elitist individuals would gather, dine and converse on a level that most of us common diners would feel out of place and somewhat alienated. The menu itself would be as grand, food spelt with French words and phrases muttered in strange accents that would help us to understand that as it was expensive, and it must be good. To the ‘grand restauranteur' all of this meant that the diner could not see behind the curtain to the secrets of our industry and that the guests must be at all costs separated from mechanics of the menu. READ MORE

John Signorelli

With the current, customer-driven focus on a more “fast casual cuisine”, including those of varied and authentic ethnic origins, the direction of today's mainstream cuisine is one which tends to veer far from the classic protein/starch/vegetable triad located at “10, 2 and 6 o'clock” on the well-worn plates of many full-service or casual dining restaurants. This lasting trend of fast casual is more towards a cuisine which stays true to the items' origins by sourcing authentic and better ingredients for their distinct flavors, resulting in an overall higher quality of food, served more quickly than any tablecloth-clad establishment can match. READ MORE

Mia Kyricos

It is no secret that the hotel world has changed dramatically in the last few years. If we consider just the last decade (2006-2016), we've witnessed significant brand expansions and evolutions; experienced the trauma of one of the world's worst recessions and subsequent halts in development pipelines around the globe; and now, acquisitions of some of the largest and most recognized hotel brands in the business. And that's just on the industry side. On the consumer side of the equation, I think one of the greatest macro-trends to affect the way we attract and retain our customers is that today our guests are looking for experiences that positively READ MORE

Michael G. Tompkins

Those of us lucky enough to work in the spa and wellness industry experience the pleasure of helping people day in, day out. However, from an executive perspective, there is one very common complaint: the industry doesn't get the respect it deserves. There are times when it seems like the media and the investment industry only seem to care about the growth in the technology and biotechnology industries. What excites them is another gadget, an app, a new pill, or whatever other newfangled notion is “flavor of the month.” And yet the spa and wellness industry has also grown at a clip READ MORE

Mark Grenoble

One of the big shifts in the spa and wellness movement that I have seen over the past few years is in the mindset of the spa-goer. What used to be a singular spa experience to relax the body, release tension in the muscles, and perhaps elevate one's physical appearance, has now transgressed into something deeper. The spa experience is beginning to look beyond the physical body and instead, engage the mind. Spa-goers are seeking transformation focused not on changing who you are, but creating a more perfect version of yourself. READ MORE

Deborah Smith

Widespread enthusiasm for a natural hot springs experience over the last ten years has growing numbers of wellness- and recreation-oriented consumers in America building their travel and vacation plans around these scenic destinations. Places where simple enjoyment of Mother Nature, outdoor recreation, and the pleasure of total relaxation are the main attractions. Wellness and recreation-based tourism centered around hot mineral springs is estimated to be a $50 billion global industry according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a Miami-based think tank that has published several research reports concerning the global hot springs market in the past few years. READ MORE

Trent Munday

As I mentioned here once before, in an earlier article titled Demystifying the Hotel Spa , the hotel spa business has been a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past 20 years or so. Like all good roller coaster rides, the most exciting bit is when you start rolling down from the peak, zigging and zagging, twisting and turning, screaming with a mixture of delight, adrenalin and sheer terror - but that part of the ride is also what puts many people off. It's not for everyone. In many ways, the hotel spa business today is on that same exciting part of the business cycle. READ MORE

Ann Brown

When I was in college, my door into the spa industry opened when someone reached out to help me. Spa therapy changed my entire health and wellbeing, and it continues to do so today. As much as I love the holistic wellness and altruistic side of the spa world, I very acutely recognize this is a business. In order to do well by your clients and impact their health and in order to support our therapists in their careers, our organizations must stay healthy and profitable. Licensed in massage, esthetics, and cosmetology and holding a business management degree, I'm grateful to have knowledge and insight from all sides of the spa. READ MORE

David Stoup

Authentic experiences and personal well-being have become increasingly important to the modern consumer, and hotels that provide an opportunity for travelers to maintain personal wellness not only engage their leisure visitors, but group guests and locals as well. As many hotel spa and fitness facilities are seriously underutilized, a new type of spa dedicated to wellness allows a hotel to capture the growing number of health-conscious consumers searching for travel experiences that adapt to their personal needs. When executed properly, a hotel can leverage its spa/wellness offerings to reach beyond the hotel stay, extending the guest experience post-visit to create long-term loyalty. READ MORE

Keith Simmel

Over the last decade, we have seen the nation take a greater interest in health and wellness. There has been a major paradigm shift calling for higher quality, organic products and transparency with ingredients. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines to list the amount of calories associated with each item. Organic grocers like Whole Foods are leading the market with their superior offerings. It's no surprise that this consumer trend has also manifested in the hospitality industry where hotel designers, owners and developers are seeing greater demand for health and wellness products than ever before. READ MORE

Gaye Steinke

Most leisure travelers in the 21st century still expect the same things out of their vacations that they wanted in years gone by: beautiful sights, convenient comfort, and unique adventures. But there is a new travel trend on the rise. With an increasing focus on wellness in our every day lives, it was inevitable that travelers and meeting planners would want to incorporate healthy, mindful experiences into vacations and events. That means personalized spa treatments, location-specific yoga sessions, refreshing eco-tourism excursions, restorative detoxes and more. A wellness-focused getaway isn't just a vacation. It is about how a destination can change a person's body, mind and soul. READ MORE

Melinda Minton

Millennials are counteracting their fight to have more free time with upping their productivity. They crave the spa because they put their well-being before work. Other demographics are also working to live rather than living to work. With that sentiment business travelers are adding on to their working business trips by adding family or significant others to the trip. Spa and wellness programs work wonderfully in the sense that they add creative fitness, healthy cooking, meditation, team and couples focused activity to the sometimes hum-drum qualities of a hotel stay. Furthermore, as a property slated to handle a company's business travel and leisure expenditure is a profitability bonus that makes numbers sing the praises of bleisure. READ MORE

Laszlo Puczko

It may seem to be relatively straight forward to talk about accountability and investment in spas or wellness centers. Reality however proves otherwise. Interestingly, the industry has not yet accepted a definition for spa, or for wellness centers (or different types of spas). According to the International SPA Association “Spas are places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.” Although ISPA's relevant terminologies are often referred to, these are not global definitions. Still, at least there are some descriptions available for spas. Wellness centers represent an even less clear arena. READ MORE

Cassie Hernandez

Twenty years ago, the U.S. spa industry was just beginning to blossom. There were approximately 3,000 spa locations then, compared to nearly 44,000-plus locations today. Day spas were popping up on every corner, driven largely by the full-service salon. Hotel and resort spas were few and far between, and destination spas such as the Golden Door and Canyon Ranch were luxurious getaways for the lucky few. Spas were a luxury, only reserved for the wealthy or affluent adult. Now, I have seen my youngest spa patron at the ripe age of 4 years old. READ MORE

Jacqueline Clarke

French Thermal Spas can inspire modern wellness and spa industries worldwide. They are turning around an industry that was in terminal decline. Their vision is of "a new thermalism" that will develop thermal solutions to solve the public health problems of today. The mega health problems they target include ageing-related conditions, addictions, allergies, stress, obesity related, and effective, but non-medicated, solutions for common pains. The new thermalism expands its appeal by diversifying from the rigidly therapeutic offer into the more flexible “thermoludic” (thermal and leisure). A major research project is generating the evidence to convince consumers and insurers. READ MORE

Deborah Waldvogel

While the Classic Swedish Massage remains the most requested spa treatment, today's spa-savvy business and leisure guests, regardless of geographic location, are expecting a deeper and more enhanced experience, like those often found in destination spas. Many spas are accomplishing this through the use of specialized equipment, spaces, and wellness programs. Furthermore, while it may seem contradictory to traditional spa philosophies that promote a tranquil environment encouraging guests to unplug, these modern-day urban facilities, whether it is a city club, hotel or day spa, are incorporating more “high tech” processes, features and treatments to expand and customize their offerings. READ MORE

Andres Araya

In fall 2015, Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine - a 900-year-old abbey and winery that was converted in 2012 into one of Spain's most exclusive hotels - opened a stunning, state-of-the-art spa. Santuario LeDomaine Wellness & Spa was the final component to complete this extraordinary, historic property. It was also more than that: it reinforced and expanded the persona of a winery hotel, set among the vineyards, with a signature vinotherapy concept implemented by one-of-a-kind ‘Spa Sommeliers.' The new spa embodies and furthers the hotel's theme, spirit and ethos - making it more relevant and deeply connected to the property, as well as helping build and drive usage. READ MORE

Sylvain Pasdeloup

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort is the Sofitel brand's first presence in Bali, often dubbed the ‘Island of the Gods'. The Resort has firmly established itself as a wellbeing destination, putting in much emphasis on one of the Sofitel brand's ‘key essences' of hospitality, namely Wellness. It does so through the Sofitel luxury marque's So SPA, an ultramodern spa facility onsite at the resort, which is complemented in the ‘fitness' aspect by the So FIT full-fledged gym and fitness facility. An added bonus, and unique to this Sofitel resort, is Vietura Aesthetic, a third-party operated skin rejuvenation clinic. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.