Promoting wellness

The successful modern spa offers treatments, exercise and relaxation under one roof. Hotels that understand the ‘wellness’ concept and offer the right product will benefit.

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By  David Ingham Published  September 2, 2004

|~||~||~|Gyms, saunas, massage rooms and fitness centres are out, and the integrated spa, or wellness centre, is in. The emphasis now is on promoting personal wellbeing and the wellness centre is an integrated place that offers treatments, exercise and relaxation under one roof. Increasingly, the spa is also a unique selling point for many hotels, one that helps contribute to customer loyalty and drives revenues through treatments and product sales. “The last five years have seen a marked change of direction in the development of facilities in hotels,” says James Allen, sales & marketing manager, Wellness Solution. “Spa is a marketing term used to highlight to potential customers that within the facility they can expect a range of facilities other than the standard gymnasium, swimming pool and tennis court.” A number of factors is driving this change. One obvious element is competition, which means that properties have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the rest. Another factor is the increased emphasis on revPAR (revenue per available room), which means keeping the guest in the hotel and persuading the guest to spend more whilst there. “The hotels wish to focus on the resident guests and the spa concept helps them increase revenue,” says Allen. “Revenue from spas can be huge if done correctly,” he adds. The Spa at Shangri-La differentiates itself by emphasising traditional Asian healing philosophies, with treatments developed on the principle of restoring balance and harmony to the body and mind. Emphasis is on the use of essential oils, aromatic herbs and spices. The Spa at Shangri-La also heavily promotes its exclusive treatments, a growing trend and another key way of differentiating a wellness centre and thus a property. Chi Balance, for example, is a massage style that uses a blend of Asian techniques and is personalised to suit the individual’s needs. Meridian Harmony is another traditional Asian massage style designed for those who are low in energy or feeling tired. Aroma Vitality combines aromatherapy massage, Shiatsu and reflexology with oriental aromatic essential oils. “The Spa at Shangri-La aims to be flexible to ensure guests enjoy their experience,” says Rachel Awang, the Health Club & Spa Manager at Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai. “In addition to the treatments such as the ‘Chi Balance Massage’, our spa therapists also have extensive knowledge of a wide range of specialised therapies which are available on request.” Conventional spa treatments emphasise luxury and indulgence, something that is appealing to female guests. In Shangri-La’s case, the hotel offers a body scrub, nature wrap and the Futuresse Caviar Deluxe Facial. One emerging trend, and one that comes as a result of hotels’ increasing investment in spas, is the launch of exclusive product lines. Like the spa treatments on offer, Shangri-La’s products emphasise Yin and Yang, and the restoration of harmony and balance in the body. The products have been developed in Australia, using all natural ingredients, exclusively for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain has also introduced a line of toiletries. Its retail shop stocks the product ranges of Guinot and Espa. Introducing such products adds the opportunity to generate additional spa revenues and boost overall revPAR. Key to enhancing the overall guest experience, and creating loyalty, is the personal approach. When guests arrive at the The Ritz-Carlton Dubai Spa an individual consultation is arranged with a therapist who will establish whether a guest is seeking an energising or relaxing treatment. Based on these requirements, individual massage oils are created using any number of base oils to which additional oils will be added dependent on their properties. This individual oil is then used for massage and also for aromatherapy within the treatment room. This emphasis on personalisation shows up strongly in the new approach to fitness training, one which is emphasised by Wellness Solution, UAE partner of Technogym. “People avoid using the word fitness now. They don’t have fitness centres, they have wellness centres,” explains Wellness Solution’s James Allen. “Typically, the perception of a fitness centre is of equipment you find difficult to use. There is an effort to change this negative perception of exercise by emphasising wellness.” One result of this is a major change in the way gymnasiums are designed. In place of endless rows of machines facing elevated television screens, Technogym now advocates wellness clusters with themes based on earth, water vegetation and Zen gardens. Fitness products include integrated screens to ease the monotony of exercise. “We’re now talking about integrated entertainment, allowing wellness centre managers to design something more appealing,” says Allen. “These centres, as well as being aesthetically pleasing, are businesses. They are designed to provide services that actually make revenue.” In fact, the key trend in the world of fitness is personalisation. Emphasis in hotel spas and traditional gymnasiums is increasingly on promoting personal training packages, rather than routine workouts and gym memberships. Packages are devised for individuals and are based on the results of detailed analyses of a person’s state of health. Programmes are then tailored based on the findings, progress is monitored and training is modified accordingly as the person progresses through the progamme. Whilst a guest is working out, trained personnel are on hand to ensure that he or she is using the gym equipment correctly. The equipment used for personal training also tends to be less heavy duty, with an emphasis on treadmills and bikes rather than heavy weights, and thus less intimidating. The end result is that fitness training becomes more enjoyable, more beneficial for the individual and, for the hotel, a potential revenue generator. It doesn’t end there, however. Savvy operators are extending the scope of the spa further, with the addition of beauty salons, barber shops, fruit juice bars and restaurants serving healthy food. Currently, a relatively small number of regional spas offers the type of holistic wellness solution and personalised training outlined here. However, some key trends are clearly emerging. Rather than looking at health treatments and fitness training as two separate things, smart operators are integrating the two and emphasising the concept of the wellness centre. Spas are differentiating themselves and increasing customer loyalty by personalising service, devising exclusive treatments and offering additional services around the core offering. If the design of your spa, the level of service and the range of treatments are right, it could become a key differentiator and revenue generator for your property.||**||

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