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Ms. Brown

Spas, Health & Wellness

Wellness is the New Buzz Word for Hotels and Resorts

By Ann Brown, Founder, Saltability

Wellness is the new buzzword for hotels and resorts, but news flash - there's nothing really new about wellness at the spa. Wellness has always been an intricate part of the spa experience, whether at a day, hotel, resort or destination spa. Wellness tourism, however, has developed as popular trend for travelers and in the media, and spas need to take a look at their offerings to find out how they fit in. Adopting a new "wellness" package can help your spa boost revenue and profit.

For spa professionals and guests alike, wellness falls into a gray area of definition. Like so many other vague terms in the spa industry (such as detoxification, rejuvenation, anti-aging, and prevention), wellness is a term that tends to be overused and is not specific enough. Even more problematic, many times a spa does not meet client expectations of "wellness" or address true needs. "Wellness," when undefined and undeveloped, often falls short of providing a comprehensive approach to help guests into new health patterns and out of bad habits.

Wellness tourism, quite simply, is travel for the purpose of improving health and well-being, through any number of activities focused on physical, psychological or spiritual improvement - from walking a labyrinth to yoga to meditation to healthy cooking classes. Wellness tourists want to boost good health and quality of life through respites that help them focus on their body, mind and soul. Their focus is often on prevention, not on seeking a cure for an ailment (often sought through medical tourism).

If wellness tourists are proactive and usually only get one to two weeks a year vacation in the US, why not help them achieve their goals by creating a path for them to stay on? Create this path or package the 'journey' because they need the assistance, motivation and an itinerary to stay on track - and because you will create strong relationships with the guest, leaving them coming back for more and spreading the word about your spa.

It's not great news when your guest leaves and feels you didn't meet their wellness needs. But it's even worse if you are missing out on guests because you don't have a clear message or a wellness vacation that assists the guest to better health via new approaches, patterns and lifestyle choices. Spas must take the lead on developing new programs and educating and inviting guests to truly see the health and wellness value.

While a wellness vacation sounds great, the fact remains that massage is still the number one treatment requested within the spa industry. The standby Swedish massage alone isn't unique enough for a spa to base a wellness vacation around, so you must think about the unique components that you can tie together throughout the property to help the client in their wellness goals.

Maybe it gets confusing for you because you really don't know how to start a program or create something that will make people react and book the package. The spa itself, to many hotel operations managers, can be a bit of a mystery with all of those ' feel good' tree huggers, and not so readily available benchmarking figures. Sometimes treatments are even put on spa menus that really don't align themselves to the mission or vision of the spa or property concept, and very little costing is done to see if they are even profitable. There can be so many different treatments and modalities that are good for the guest, but you can't be everything to everybody or your message gets diluted.

You may be thinking, "I am not a destination resort, so what could I really include that is going to satisfy this savvy wellness warrior?" I'm going to help you with this one too.

Your package needs to connect the dots. It needs to have a theme with wellness, prevention, anti-aging, and better health. We have created a two-night stay that includes one to three specific spa treatments, a seminar performed by someone that works within the spa, a cooking class, a wine tasting, and bike rentals or a guided walk/hike. Truly, we have had wild success because we are leading the way for the guest to follow and encouraging them to try new treatments, food, wine, exercise that gets them out of some old routines. Describing the treatments and wines and foods and educating them along the way, they understand the benefits and can trust they are on the right path to meet their specific goals. We offer wellness weekends and many times I see these wellness weekend participants book again and come with other friends. The spa becomes their trusted source for wellness and relaxation.

So what is new and different in the spa world that will attract that guest for a wellness weekend or package? Funny thing about the spa industry, it is thousands of years old so none of these treatments are really new … nothing! Reflexology's earliest records date back to China, 2700 BC. I think your wellness vacationer is looking for something unique, special, different, and relaxing that will encourage them to relax or unwind or develop new habits, so worry less about the latest fad and focus instead on creating a package that has very specific wellness offerings so they stay on track.

Look at the different options for massage or other spa treatments and find one that holds the most possibilities for your spa. Recently we had all of our massage therapists trained in Himalayan Salt stone massage and all of the therapists really loved the treatment. As the Spa Director, I decided to bring in the treatment because our regular ole stone massage was really getting stale. It has been in the resort industry for about 15 years and lost a bit of its luster. I know it is still popular, however, so I looked for a way to expand and show more benefit through a new stone therapy.

Our hands-on staff loved the treatment because it is good for the guest and also good for them. We put 10-15 Himalayan salt stones in a warming basket and set them on a timer to be used throughout the day in all the treatment rooms. The salt gives off negative ions that reduce free radicals, pollution, and electrical interference and actually help the body find a sense of calm and homeostasis. The clients receive this great stone massage with the salt that has been hand-tooled into smooth round stones and warmed so it feels great on the skin and the salt is absorbed into the skin.

The skin, our largest organ, has the ability to uptake all the nutrients in the salt into the body and to replenish lost minerals, so the client goes away feeling a truly heightened sense of relaxation. We also do a hydro bath with the Himalayan salts, a salt stone facial using warm and cold stones, and a salt exfoliation with a wrap.

We go beyond the treatments with this salt-centered wellness package. We have an abundance of retail offerings from bathing salts, from a 100% natural salt scrub to salt lamps that emit the same great ions into the client's homes, offices, etc. In our spa café, we allow the guests to use Himalayan salts on their food and learn about making a daily 'salt water sole' drink for better healthy. We have salt pillows and foot warmers that really allow our clients to take this experience home with them to further their wellness goals. I have to say our retail revenues have really gone up since there are so many retail offerings to purchase.

Other components of the package are a seminar in which we talk about massage, Himalayan salts for use at home, and techniques to bring about change and a sense of relaxation. We include a biodynamic wine tasting to show the benefits and the concentration of antioxidants and the ecofriendly farming methods utilized in biodynamic farming. Also part of the package, a cooking class uses healthy ingredients and demonstrates the ease in which to cook with fresh ingredients and make your own marinates, dressings and entrees that are healthy.

All of these components are things you can readily do at your property when occupancy is down or you know a weekend will be slow (after a holiday, etc.). You will be surprised how quickly you will get some takers. You can also garner some decent press out of the wellness weekends with alerting the PR to the event and the offerings. You really don't have to bring in big names or fancy chefs to achieve the publicity or bookings that you need to make this a successful event for the property and your client. Simply find your focus and carry it through to create a meaningful and impactful wellness package for your guest. I took one new treatment in our spa - Himalayan stone massage - and built a nice weekend around the salt, but you can find many other new or existing treatments to make this effective. We created a Valentine's wellness weekend and included only one spa service to keep the cost down for the package. During a "how to perform reflexology" seminar, the couples worked on each other's feet and they really enjoyed it and found it interesting and humorous. Out of the 60 couples that came to the event, I know I have seen at least one dozen since that have specifically came to my office to say hi, like they were an old friend. This relationship building goes a long way and it is worth a try!

Ann Brown is an industry veteran whose expertise extends from licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, nail technician and massage therapist to accomplished spa director and business manager. In 2014, she founded Saltability to answer the need for a better treatment in the spa industry and conceived a line of Himalayan salt products that benefit clients as well as their therapists. By keeping products and services chemical free and eco-friendly, Saltability offers multiple therapeutic benefits in a single treatment, helping client and practitioner alike. Today, Saltability is a spa industry partner that provides quality Himalayan salt stone treatments and products for resort, day, medical and destination spas. Ms. Brown can be contacted at 888-210-9918 or ann@saltability.com Please visit http://www.saltability.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

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