Integrating Wellness into the Spa Experience

By Lisa Starr Principal, Wynne Business | July 08, 2018

According to the Global Wellness Institute's 2017 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, from 2013 to 2015, Hotel/Resort spas were the fastest-growing category among all spa types, due to the emerging global middle class and a growing interest in experiential travel.

While massage will typically be the most-requested service in almost every spa, it has also become more of a commodity, with massages available in a wide variety of venues, including on-call services that deliver a therapist to your home, through an app, in under an hour. The hotel and resort spa-going guest is looking for innovation in treatments, facilities, cuisine and activities that will help them to lower their stress levels and unplug from their demanding lives, while reinforcing their brand loyalty and desire to return.

Facilities

Spas are intended to be sensory havens, beyond the basic element of touch inherent in treatments, and this can't be forgotten in the design, decor and sensory appeal of the facility. COMO Shambhala spas around the world all carry their signature Invigorate products, scented with a blend of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and geranium, and these products are also used as amenities in guest rooms. Langham Hotel's Chuan Spas each feature a signature Moon Gate entrance, and elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine are used throughout the spas, including customizable lighting in treatment rooms which are programmed based on the results of a client intake questionnaire, making the experience much more personalized. Effective air ventilation, soundproofing, and thoughtful design and furnishings will heighten the relaxation response of the guest before they even enter the treatment room.

Facility amenities including saunas, steam rooms, cold plunges and whirlpools, experience showers, and zero-gravity loungers, while not inexpensive to create and operate, provide an array of options that attract guests to the spa, and don't have an attached labor cost. For example, the Spa Wave table by German manufacturer Gharieni offers heat, gentle vibration and a binaural sound wave system, experienced through a headset, which provides deep relaxation in a matter of minutes, without a therapist. The table can be used for typical spa treatment, but the guest can pay an additional fee to linger and enjoy these features. The Ame Spa at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, FL recently installed a cryotherapy capsule, which delivers a blast of ice-cold air in a 3-minute period, intended to boost metabolism and energy, improve circulation and relieve pain. Floatation therapy, either in a capsule or purpose-built shallow pool, calms brain waves by removing the senses of light, sound and gravity, and can be experienced at the Agua Serena Spa at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA.

The ultimate in integrating facility and design with wellness practices may be the new Six Senses Bhutan, which will be comprised of five separate lodges across the kingdom, each designed around one of the five pillars of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index, and intended to be enjoyed as a circuit experience.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.