Spa - Then and Now

A 20 Year Swing in the Spa Pendulum

By Cassie Hernandez Director, The Spa at The Broadmoor | July 10, 2016

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.

Our purpose used to be simple, come in; change into a robe, get a massage or a facial; pay and go home. Day Spa's led the charge in getting the word out to consumers about the benefits and power of human touch. When it came to treatments back then, the basic European facial and Swedish massage ruled. A handful of product lines were used at the majority of spas. Skin care was simpler then, in those pre-Botox and pre-microdermabrasion and pre-hyaluronic peptide days. Times have certainly changed. Today we have pet spas, men's only spas, medi-spas, spiritual spas, express spas and the list goes on and on…

Over the past 22 years I have been blessed to be a part of this wonderful industry called 'spa', I have seen some wonderful shifts on why and how we do what we do. The spa industry has changed everything over a span of two decades. From its concept, to its clientele to its layout to its decor and now even its name, as formidably we are known as the "health and wellness industry". These days, both day and destination spas are big business and those who run them take their responsibilities as nurturers quite seriously. As a patron of any spa or health & wellness establishment it is imperative you take in the entire experience as intended. The evolution of the spa experience is truly remarkable and should be celebrated and embraced. Establishments are offering so much more in regards to their amenities for the savvy spa patron. From your standard saunas and steam rooms, to cold plunge pools for the more courageous.

If you are feeling very adventuresome, you can try the heated lounge chairs embedded in a salt chamber to aid in any respiratory issues you may have, or sit in an oxygen room to increase the oxygen cells in the blood stream… the options are vast and even more so, they are effective. Amenities continue to expand and thrive in every spa but so has the decor. A fluffy pillow and pillared candle used to be all you need to entice your spa consumer and make them feel relaxed. Now, you have to have nothing short of the cirque de solei swinging from the chandeliers to greet you. Some spas are built with higher budget than your standard boutique hotel! They have laced the hallways and rooms, with only the best of the best such as alpaca rugs, cashmere blankets, 3,000 thread count sheets, marble flooring, crystal chandeliers, high-end artwork and much more. When you walk into today's hotel spa, you feel as if you have transcended into the magazine for the rich and famous; and you haven't even stepped foot in the locker room yet. The ambiance is extraordinary and truly sets the perfect tone to begin your journey of Zen.

Today, spa fans want more than sloughing off dead skin or soothing aching muscles from those pampering places of eucalyptus-lavender scented bliss. And businesses are transforming into mind, body and soul temples of wellness to meet the demands of people increasingly removing themselves from traditional houses of worship and pursuing alternative paths to spiritual connection. Our 2016, spa-goer is looking for experiences that deliver and treatments that show results. While one may go to a spa to be pampered, one also wants to walk out feeling transformed, be that more vibrant and energetic, or more relaxed and nourished.

Spas can be inspirational places where I've seen many people have transformational experiences. With people not going as much to church, spas are a natural place to have some of these experiences. Spirituality, more often than not, when offered up in today's spa realm, is yet another entree on the scrumptious spa buffet. I'll take a little bit of that organic salt scrub, combine it with a downward dog, add a dash of light therapy, and a pinch of Shiatsu massage, blend that all together with a drizzle of hot oil on my third eye, and I'm good to go! This is the true 21st century mentally of your spa patron. For many of us, cultivating a spiritual existence is vital to living a balanced and healthy life.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.