Ms. Dreyfus

Spas, Health & Wellness

How Spas Help Hotels Book More Rooms

By Stacy Dreyfus, President, Orchid Resorts & Escapes

Speaking of 'Spa', what's the first picture that comes to your mind? A relaxed, airy space next to the gym with an insignificant number of visitors mostly referred to as ladies walking in and out with white robes? This might have been true, a long, long time ago, but no longer applicable in today's luxury travel business. The truth is, spas are now playing an increasingly important role in securing more leads for luxury hotels and resorts. This is truly creating amazing new opportunities and exciting challenges for management in the business.

As the spa business, along with the entire world of travel, both business and the leisure market, was severely crushed in 2008, studies have shown a healthy growth in spas with travel demand during the past two years. According to SpaFinder® Wellness' "2012 State of Spa Travel" Survey, 68% of travel agents reported growth in 2012 spa bookings, up from 37% in 2011. As Founder of the Orchid Resorts & Escapes collection, I have worked on numerous requests for an excellent superb spa experience to give reasons for our well-traveled, affluent clients to ultimately finalize their booking. It is crucial for luxury hotels and resorts to prepare for their guests' expectations and respond properly to the rising demand. And here we will explore a few aspects in the changing landscape of luxury business travel and how it helps to sell more hotel rooms with the inclusion of a spa.

The Healthy Routine

Both in physical and cultural senses, it is now the "healthiest" age for the affluent in human history- for once, we no longer take our body as a physical object in which we reside. Instead, we value our body and the experience which it takes along as a respectable part of our wealth. Not only are people fighting against illness and trying to stay away from discomfort, yet, we have also seen a trend in taking proactive actions to maintain it at its best (yes, just like Angelina Jolie so may say, yet can be a bit controversial). Among our stylish and celebrity clientele, it is almost regarded as a sin if you do not have a routine for work-out, styling, or healthy dining. Now the same rule appears to be applying to the spa experience as well. Massage and reflexology have been considered a healthy way and the most popular with hotels and resorts to relax your body after a long day at work, and even better with organic products.

As studies have shown, we have more and more guests who frequent spas locally at home, yet, what will they expect at a luxury hotel when traveling? An excellent spa, great service & unique treatments of course! A gorgeous spa can definitely be the highlight of the guests' hotel memories and very likely a top reason that lures them to a weekend getaway again or perhaps extend for a longer stay during business travel.

Keeping The Message Uniform

Let us take a step back to look at hotel profit. As by-line products, the spa has yet to be considered as a major revenue generator for the hotel and resort industry. But, the whole spa experience is a key battlefield where you can keep the message uniform and brand your hotel in a distinctive way. These ways must be creative, playful and, thus, can help with packaging for higher revenue, longer stays and upselling.

A long standing question for sales and marketing departments at every hotel, whether it be a large franchise hotel group or a small boutique property, is how to make their specific brand and name stand out in an attractive manner for the fierce competition in 2013 and looking at the future. As a personal preference, in an often intimate surrounding (a.k.a. the treatment room), the spa experience generally leaves a strong impression on guests' mind. And there you are - the challenge of branding your hotel comes down to is how to incorporate your brand into the spa experience, both treatments along with products. "People are being more aware of what's in their products and asking for paraben-free products and more organic products and treatment", said Sharon Myburgh, Spa Manager at Beach House Turks & Caicos, a boutique hotel that just opened up in late 2012 on Grace Bay Beach, "That's one of the reasons for our spa choosing Image as its product line - it is also the official product of the Miss America and Miss Universe Pageants."

Meanwhile, another challenge is how to keep your brand message uniform, with various aspects in the hotel. It is truly important on how to message your brand in a unique, uniform way and including a lifestyle vision depending if it is healthy, organic, pampering, relaxing, refreshing, etc. Also, including an echoing manner between spa, food, beverage, room amenities, interior designs and overall guest experience. These key branding points can also bring more revenue to the hotel as will position you with the market and how you are different from your "friendly" competition.

There are various hotel brands such as Starwood & Morgans Hotel Group that sell everything you can experience from the product line in the spa, to a relaxing, scented candle, to a lounging chair, linens and even the beds you sleep in.

More Gentlemen Coming

Yes, this is happening! More and more we are finding from our direct clients that more men are frequenting the spa - some multiple times.

"Men are recognizing the need for rest and rejuvenation as a key component to success in all areas of their lives whether this be career, family or relationship - just look at the way well-being, nutrition, yoga etc. is being touted by the "Success Forums", WSJ etc. Taking care of yourself is no longer perceived as vein or 'Feminine', it's as equally wise and increasingly a masculine path." - Douglas Drummond, Spa Manager, Soho House New York City.

As Mr. Drummond confirms, "With less 'free time' on their hands in the normal working week and an increase in intense physical workouts, men are seeing the benefits of a spa treatment, notably massage, from the physical aspect in terms of recovery and physical results. Lest we forget, 'SPA's is an acronym for Salus per Aqua, or Healing Through Water, whereby it was predominantly men preparing or post battle that were reaping the benefit of SPA activity and massage. I feel it's a 'full cycle' moment with men being welcomed back into the SPA environment."

Another example of resort locations that is more built on incentive groups, retreats and leisure vacation for men visiting the spa - "When we first opened the spa it was primarily (almost exclusively) our lady guests that would be making use of our services. Now, we are finding that men are equally fond of the spa." David Hew, Managing Director at Kamalame Cay, the 96-acre private island resort with Bahamas' only over-water spa.

The change in guest demographics is more dramatic than the public could imagine or even estimate as it is always evolving. Beach House Turks & Caicos reports a 60-40 percentage contrast on spa visitors with male being the majority clientele in spa services.

With this demographic change in mind, it is no surprise that we find spa growth becoming a great selling point for a family vacation, friends' getaway, a reunion, in addition to a romantic retreat, a bridal shower or simply a quick last minute trip.

As Mr. Hew mentions, "If it's a group of friends or family, we are finding that the ladies will go one day while the men fish and the men have their own day while the ladies relax on the beach." Indeed, luxury hotels and resorts thrives as they want pamper everybody.

We asked about 220 men what treatments are they are mostly asking for and the majority of answers were massage, massage & massage. We also asked a handful of our clients to see that this is correct…Massage is most popular as noted by both Kamalame Cay, Soho House New York and Beach House Turks & Caicos. Reflexology is also considered a hot option for male guests.

Better Economy, More Business

Overall, what we are seeing from bookings and hearing directly from our clients, along with various partners, is that the economy recovery with travel will continue to see a rise in more business trips with upgrades in amenities for corporate and leisure occasions. I believe I speak from all of us in the travel industry, Bring it ON!

Ms. Dreyfus founded Orchid Resorts & Escapes in late 2007 as a boutique sales, marketing and partnership agency that based its mission on the ideals of superior customer service and excellent industry relationships. Currently the company is marketing some of the most unique and exclusive resorts and destinations in the world, including Winvian, The Pitcher Inn, Soho House New York, Soho House Berlin, Soho Beach House, Deer Valley Chalet, Tides Beach Club, Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, Villa Feltrinelli in Italy, Caleton Villas in the Dominican Republic and Kauai Island Villas. Ms. Dreyfus holds a B.A. in Travel and Tourism from Clemson University. Ms. Dreyfus can be contacted at 646-861-1658 or stacy@orchidworldwide.com Extended Bio...

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