The spa business has continued to grow in the last decade, even through the economy’s most restless periods. The International Spa Association reports that the number of spa visits grew from 90.7 million in 1999 to 150 million in 2010, and that the $12.8 billion in revenue generated by U. S. spas in 2010 represented a 4.3% increase from the previous year.
During this stretch of steady prosperity, however, popular trends in the spa business have changed constantly, and significantly—and with them, the keys to success. To keep their spas viable and attractive, club and resort properties need to make ongoing adjustments not only in the mix of services and can’t-miss amenities that they offer, but also in how their spa facilities are designed and outfitted.
SUMMING IT UP
“The idea is to not just be a good spa, but to be visually entertaining as well,” says Kris Gebhardt, Designer for the Cook Group, which owns French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind.
Thoughtful design that emits a sense of well-being is one of the primary keys to success. The most appealing spa operations now focus on providing peaceful and private environments. Aesthetic considerations such as furniture, wall art, lighting and water features can help to create and promote the right levels of solitude and serenity. Close attention must also be paid to where supplies should be stored, how equipment should be positioned and how staff will access treatment areas, to keep operational considerations from becoming invasive and disrupting the proper mood.
Nestled amid a grove of magnolia and plum trees, the Accista Spa at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa in Monterey, Calif., pays homage to its vibrant natural surroundings. The color palate of the Monterey area is celebrated throughout the spa. “We have the chocolate browns from the woods, rust and stone colors from the soils, greens from vegetation and touches of blue from the beautiful coastline,” describes Socorro Valdez, Spa Manager.
The spa also highlights local plants and vegetation—including sage, pine and cypress—in a diorama of plants and herbs at the entrance of the relaxation area. Photography showcasing the ocean views and marine life along the coastline are featured on the walls.
The spa has two relaxation rooms. One has oversized sofas, chaise lounges, a fireplace, a candle garden and a refreshment area.
The other is a library lined with books about the local area, environment and culture, along with a plush seating area.
Around the perimeter of the relaxation lofts, there are six treatment rooms and four couples’ treatment rooms in each corner of the upper level. The rooms all have a frosted glass panel with natural grasses embedded into the glass. The panels also allow natural light into the room, while maintaining privacy.
The walls are covered in a textured cream, wheat-like wallpaper. Four of the rooms have dark cork flooring, while the two wet treatment rooms have gray slate stone tiles. Abstract, Native American-inspired wall sconces on dimmers set the tranquil mood for the spa treatments.
Each treatment room has a heated, hydraulic treatment table covered in soft, organic sheets and quilts. The hydraulic tables allow therapists to offer a wide range of spa treatments from massages to facials, and everything in between. “Guests don’t have to lift a finger once they are in the treatment room,” says Valdez. “We move everything and are able to flow seamlessly from treatment to treatment.”
Keeping equipment and products out of sight was a top priority as the spa was designed. On the far side of the treatment rooms, a stand-alone, satin metal-finish bowl stands on a sand-colored quartzite countertop. Dark wood cabinets above the countertop house all of the signature oils and products. Under the massage table, more cabinets hold additional equipment.
“Everything is in cabinets; everything is kept behind the closed doors to maintain that residential feel,” says Valdez. “We want the guests to come in, fall onto the table and forget about everything.”
Club Setting, Resort Flavor
The spa at the Country Club of Jackson (CCJ) in Jackson, Miss., is located in the club’s Fitness Center. This area was designed as a modern resort-style facility that provides wellness services. The spa has a boutique design with natural, soothing materials.
Some of these features include caramelized bamboo floors, a custom Venetian plaster feature wall, and iridescent glass in cream and aqua tones. Modern artwork, dimensional sculptures, decorative shells, glass and botanicals further establish the overall look and feel of the tranquil spa space.
“The décor strives to contribute to the holistic sensory experience, in unison with the spa treatments,” says Patrick Joyce, General Manager.
This experience is brought to life upon entering the relaxation room, located just beyond the spa entry. The room is set up with plush chaise lounges and armless and shelter lounge chairs. A mix of antique mirrored console tables, sculptural tables and ottomans create a comfortable and inviting place for members to unwind. Recessed cove lighting washes over the Venetian plaster feature wall.
Inside the treatment rooms, the focus is on complete comfort and healing. The ambiance is created through smooth bamboo flooring, cove lighting, candles and the scent of essential oils. Custom cabinetry in each room ensures that all products, equipment and supplies are tucked away. One treatment room also has a custom closet big enough to store larger equipment.
“Only the products to be used in a particular service will be brought out for use and are then returned to storage,” says Joyce.
The rooms all feature an individually controlled sound system to provide a customized background atmosphere. Additionally, continuous sound insulation in the walls and above the ceiling keeps sound from being transferred between treatment rooms.
Having a luxurious spa on the property has helped the Country Club of Jackson create a resort-like atmosphere. “The Spa at CCJ was a natural extension of our full-service lineup,” says Joyce. “It allows our members and their guests to come to their club not only for great food and athletic facilities, but for relaxation and pampering.”
The Spa Next Door
The spa at the Coto de Caza (Calif.) Golf & Racquet Club provides members with a place to relax and escape, close to home. “The spa gives members a great sense of well-being,” says Corey Tabor, Spa & Sports Club Director. “Most of our social members live in the community, so this gives them an experience where they don’t even have to leave the community setting.”
The 3,000-sq.-ft. spa is located in the back corner of the Spa & Sports Club building by the main pool. It has two massage treatment rooms and two facial rooms that can also double as massage rooms as needed.
With a contemporary design, the spa has dark woods and textured wallpaper, which creates a serene, healing retreat within the bustling club. The spa’s quiet room has two plush, cream-colored leather chairs and two upholstered green and brown patterned chairs, along with dark wood coffee tables and a small tabletop fountain. A tree in the corner of the room is lit with twinkle lights, and a large wood-framed mirror rests on the wall.
“It is very tranquil and calming in the spa compared to the rest of the club, which is very boisterous,” says Tabor.
The treatment rooms have tan and white textured wallpaper and bamboo flooring. The two massage rooms have large open windows with window coverings that allow members to look out without people seeing in. The windows overlook a scenic rock garden. Each room has a set of dark wood cabinets: a glass-door cabinet displays spa products, while the wood-door cabinet stores towels and other treatment necessities. The rooms have vanities with granite countertops where towel warmers, a small stereo and a small plant are placed.
While the spa is a popular spot at the club, it is tucked away at the back of the building. So Tabor and his staff make extra efforts to reach out to members and remind them to visit the spa.
“We send the therapists to club events to mingle with members, walk the floor and talk with people,” he says. His advice to other clubs looking to add a spa: “Make the spa front and center—something members see right away.”
Easing the Apprehension
The design goal of the spa at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind., was to be welcoming and unintimidating. “People can be apprehensive about spas,” says Gebhardt. “We wanted it to be inviting.”
Upon entering the spa, guests are greeted in the lively, 2,000-sq.-ft. lobby that has two sitting areas and a spa store. The spa utilizes natural light, stained glass, tile and marble to create a bright and alluring setting. Along the walls, the spa honors the area’s history with old photos and postcards from the early 1900s that were blown up into oversized pieces of fine art on canvas, displayed in ornate gold leaf frames.
The dynamic, yet cozy atmosphere continues in the spa’s lounge areas. In the women’s lounge, stained-glass windows with vibrant green leafs and splashes of red line the room, while chocolate-toned, woven chaise lounges and chairs with cream cushions are set up for cozy comfort. Cream throw rugs complement the stone-tiled floor and warm up the space. Rain glass—a heavily patterned glass—is used throughout the spa, to create an illusion of flowing water.
From the relaxation rooms, the spa-goers enter the corridor to the treatment rooms. Each room has a multipurpose hydraulic bed. The rooms have stone-tiled floors, walnut-toned cabinets for all of the supplies and towels, a beige stone countertop, and a tiled backsplash with bronze medallions peppered through the tiles. The textured wallpaper looks like lightly painted burlap.
“You want to pick textures in the spa that people will want to reach out and touch,” says Gebhardt.
The resort also has four water treatment rooms—two of which are used for the spa’s signature Pluto Baths, where guests soak in old-fashioned claw-foot tubs in mineral water brought directly from the healing spring water on the property. These rooms are completely tiled, with slate tile on the floors and floor-to-ceiling aqua tiles.
Today, French Lick Resort is undergoing an expansion and renovation that includes replacing the 40-gallon Pluto Baths with oversized 70-gallon tubs, and adding four massage rooms and several new showers to provide a “full shower experience.” The souped-up showers will have a rainfall shower head in addition to a regular head, body jets, and a feature that allows guests to program the water temperature, music and lights that illuminate the shower.
Promoting and selling products used during spa treatments is an important piece of successful spa operations. But retail areas must also be carefully planned to not infringe upon the calming nature of a spa. Here’s how these spas subtly show what they have for sale:
Accista Spa at the Hyatt Regency Monterey (Calif.) Hotel and Spa: Products are displayed on one wall of the spa foyer on three dark wood, copper-lined shelves. The area also has bars for hanging spa clothing and robes, and a kiosk for the spa’s signature nail care line.
The Spa at The Country Club of Jackson (Miss.): Spa products are shown within the spa on an étagère that complements the spa’s overall design and décor. Additionally, at the Fitness Center entrance, products are displayed on floating glass shelves on cables, and a retail table and wall create modern display vignettes.
The Spa at Coto de Caza (Calif.) Golf & Racquet Club: To give all members more access to the spa products, the spa retail area is set up outside of the spa, in the Pro Shop within the Spa & Sports Club.
The Spa at French Lick (Ind.) Resort: Products are displayed on 14 retail shelves in the front lobby of the spa. Once guests enter the spa, the retail products are out of sight.