The Future of Hotel Spas: The Tomorrow Spa
By Trent Munday Vice President, Steiner Spa Consulting | July 09, 2017
The hotel spas of today are not that different from the spas that first started appearing in hotels back in the mid to late 1990's. Initially, these facilities were intended to cater to the higher end guest in search of some pampering and a little extra luxury when visiting a hotel for leisure purposes. 5 Star hotels at the time were really all about luxury and pampering, so spas were a good fit. But it wasn't too long before spas started to find their way into city hotels and then eventually on into the 4 Star market.
The problem is, the concept of spa wasn't altered or adapted to cater to this new type of guest they were now supposed to be servicing. Thus, today we have a concept designed for the grand old days of luxury hotels that is trying to exist in a very different environment to the one it was intended for. Little wonder that many hotel spas are struggling.
Just look at the spa menu in a 4 Star city hotel. Chances are it's filled with colorful language, espousing the often intangible benefits of some exotic treatments, that can all be yours, if you'll just surrender yourself to the spa for an hour or two. In our efforts to differentiate ourselves from every other spa, we've gotten a little carried away. Rather than clarifying the definitive benefits that we will deliver, what we've actually done instead is confuse our potential customers with what amounts to a mystical myriad of features. So much so that it's almost impossible for them to make any decision about whether or not to visit the spa.
Maybe if they come down to the spa we'll be able to walk them through the offering and maybe we can find something that will resonate. Maybe not. Many times I've quizzed a spa receptionist on the ingredients in the products they use and the benefits of them, only to be given a standard, rote answer, that even they don't really understand.
Today, the push in hotel spas is towards offering Wellness – whatever that means. To date, I have never had a guest come to the spa and say, "I'd like 1 hour of Wellness please.", yet we in the industry keep telling the consumers that this is what they want. The challenge for hotel spas is going to be delivering on a concept as broad as Wellness. Many have struggled with delivering on the basic spa product, due in large part to the ambiguity of the concept and the subjective nature of the results.
I wrote here before about how hotel spas could dip their toes in the metaphoric Waters of Wellness in an article titled – Hotel Spas and the Wellness Journey. This could be a nice place to start, but in today's hyper informed world, your guests will soon be asking for more. Your hotel spa guest today wants a return on their investment of time and money. A little pampering is nice, but it's not enough.