Demystifying the Hotel Spa
By Trent Munday Vice President, Steiner Spa Consulting | July 06, 2014
Today's hotel spa can be either a great profit centre or an essential amenity that is just another cost centre. Either one is fine. The key is in understanding what role your spa plays for your hotel, then finding the right help to bring that spa to life and ensure that the finished product fits with the overall objective.
Where did we come from?
Not so long ago, spas in hotels were limited to exclusive resort destinations. Then, around 20 years ago, an interesting thing happened. Hotels decided spas should now be a part of their overall service offering. What followed was a boom time for hotel spas. Or, perhaps more correctly, a boom time for the industry that emerged around hotel spas. It was a time of 'If you build it, he will come'. This worked fine for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams but the same can not be said for hotel spas.
As with many emerging industries, facts and figures often give way to hyperbole. Hotel owners and managers were caught up in the euphoria of what the spa prophets promised them – a beautiful new facility within your hotel that will be a license to print money.
In fairness to us spa people, it wasn't a deliberate act of deception. We too got caught up in the moment. We genuinely believed that your guests would flock to the spa. Why wouldn't they? Who wouldn't want to be pampered from head to toe and come out feeling relaxed and refreshed?
We gave you the concept. You decided to hang your collective hats on it. Your spa would be your USP. The one thing that really sets you apart from the competition. Here's the problem – your competitors quickly started building spas too. And then it became a game of one-upmanship if you really wanted your spa to be unique.
This is where the whole thing got a little out of control. Hotel spas started being overbuilt. After all, how else can you create a USP if everyone else is doing the same thing? Hotels were sinking way too much money into the spa facility to ever get a reasonable return on investment. Spa consultants were all too willing to help hotels create these amazing spa facilities and in so doing build a monument to themselves, rather than a sustainable business unit.
Fast forward a few more years, to the present day and hotel owners are looking at the ROI of their spas and scratching their heads.