Hollywood glamour — that’s how co-owner Inna Levitan describes the design of the Quartz Crystal Spa on the 31st and 32nd floors of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto. The space exudes luxury, featuring a palette of blacks, charcoals and shades of white, accentuated with splashes of amethyst. It’s a sanctuary where guests get their nails done or enjoy a relaxing massage, infrared skin tightening, acne treatment, teeth whitening or a spray tan. At the centre of the experience is the indoor infinity pool overlooking Toronto.
Today’s guests are seeking that perfect spa-and-wellness experience, so creating spas and pools that stand out in design and service is increasingly important to hoteliers.
Just ask the team at Hilton Hotels & Resorts. In 2012, the company conducted a global survey and found nearly half of the respondents listed the existence of a spa as an important factor when choosing a hotel. “Hotels worldwide are increasingly finding spas can drive guest bookings,” reads the company’s report, “Emerging Global Spa Trends.” It turns out the spa guest has changed, says Caitlin McKenna, director of Spa Performance Support for Hilton Worldwide. “With greater access to spa services, and use of the Internet for spa research, clients are more educated and engaged,” she says. “They’re more interested in results than just the experience.”
At the Quartz Crystal Spa, a 360-degree experience means clients feel pampered and rejuvenated and get results. “They just expect so much more, so it’s very important to provide that,” says Levitan.
The Quartz offers something for everyone, with a gender-neutral design. And, with a clientele that’s 30-per- cent male, there’s a selection of services and products geared to that client base. For example, there are skin therapies that employ cellular-based products, massages, manicures and pedicures, all designed for men; prices range from $60 for a manicure to $249 for an executive massage and wrap. For busy executives, the Quartz also offers a “lunch-hour retreat,” with a 30-minute massage and lunch packed to-go with gourmet healthy foods.
And, spa guests crave consistency. “When I go to outside spas in hotels, I often feel like the service is inconsistent,” Levitan says. “I go for a massage or even a facial one month, and, then, two months later, I’ll come back for that same facial, and it’s a completely different facial, because it’s performed by someone else.” To keep the Quartz Crystal’s operations on point, Levitan developed protocols to ensure each service remains the same, no matter which employee the client sees; it takes extensive staff training and carefully collected files on individual client preferences.
The health factor
While most guests are expecting to be pampered as part of their spa experience, others are looking for a health-and-wellness element. In fact, New York-based SpaFinder Wellness’ 2013 trend report listed healthy hotels as one of its top 10 spa trends (see “Heating Up” on p. 25).
That fact is proven at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, where guests book classes at the hotel’s yoga studio and treatments at its Ten Spa. Spa management also creates a destination experience by offering hamam bathing rituals. For example, there are self-administered salt rubs and soft steams on heated marble slabs, with head, scalp and foot massage and body cocoons to complement traditional treatments. “We get a lot of people doing destination stuff … almost like a retreat,” says Ryan Daniel Kuklik, spa supervisor. “We’re building customizable ways for people to do that, adding more yoga or treatments, whatever’s the best fit.”
In fact, while consistency may be important, customization is becoming a must-have. In fact, it was one factor Hilton considered when designing its new Eforea: Spa brand, which opened in Canada in April at Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa in Markham, Ont. “Clients enjoy treatments that cater to them, who they are and what they need,” says Hilton’s McKenna. “The one-size-fits-all option is no longer possible.” Many of the differences in what clients are looking for are generational, she adds, while there are also regional differences and variations between what business and leisure travellers seek as well.
At Eforea: Spa, Hilton is creating consistency while embracing differences from property to property. The Markham location, for example, offers microdermabrasion, prenatal/motherhood massages and hot-stone massages, among other services that represent popular choices for local clientele. “Today, as people are travelling more frequently throughout the world, there is greater demand for branded products on a global scale but still a desire for localized treatment offerings and elements,” McKenna says. “This maintains a sense of global consistency without losing local relevance.”
The perfect plunge
Whether it’s part of the spa environment, or a separate amenity by itself, pools can also be a pivotal aspect of a hotel’s health-and-wellness program. And, according to the team at The Westin Grand in Vancouver, creating the right pool environment is key. Case in point, since the Westin switched to a saltwater extraction system in its outdoor lap pool in 2011, guests have raved that the new system is less damaging to colour-processed hair and bright bathing suits, says Sarah Woodgate, the hotel’s director of Sales and Marketing. It’s also 99.9 per cent bacteria-free, which is less harsh on guests’ eyes and skin and — with fewer chemicals — it’s more environmentally friendly.
Infinity-edged pools are also gaining popularity. “It’s tranquil and extraordinary,” Levitan says of Trump’s infinity pool. Here guests can swim in the clouds at the top of the city.
Don’t underestimate a pool’s draw. “Our business is primarily corporate guests,” notes the Westin Grand’s Woodgate of his company’s outdoor pool. “They’re using the pool daily. It’s heated all year round.”
And, hoteliers who can watch guests swim outside during a Canadian December are surely doing something right.