As California-based Airbnb continues to threaten the hospitality industry throughout Canada and the U.S., hotels can differentiate themselves with irresistible amenities at spas, which cater to a growing consumer interest in health and wellness.

The Trends
Mindfulness, defined by meditation expert and author Jon Kabbat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally,” was identified as an über trend in the 2014 “Top 10 Global Spa and Wellness Trends Forecast,” released by global media, marketing and gifting company Spafinder Wellness Inc. So it makes sense that more spas are offering meditation workshops, guest speakers on mindful living and services, which interweave mindfulness with traditional physical treatments. Yoga marries the practice of mindfulness with physicality, so hotel wellness centres often include a yoga studio.

Suzanne Holbrook, corporate director of Spa Operations at Marriott International, who is based in Washington, D.C., says the idea of wellness has altered how spas cater to clients. “Wellness is on the forefront of everyone’s mind these days, because today’s clients have health top of mind,” she says. “And this can translate into any number of hotel initiatives, from humidifying the air, using organic products or incorporating aromatherapy into locker-room showers.” The most popular wellness trends cater to the mind, body and spirit. That translates into everything from mindfulness workshops to physical treatments such as massages.

However, innovations in wellness shouldn’t be confined to the spa, they should be integrated throughout a hotel. Wellness is about incorporating positive habits, attitudes and choices throughout the day — everything from a healthy diet to exercising and managing stress through meditation or yoga. Accomplishing wellness requires a multi-pronged approach, and hotels are taking it seriously. “Consumers want wellness anytime and anywhere. So operators need to search for those opportunities by incorporating nutrition, exercise, movement and stress reduction within the hotel room itself,” Holbrook adds.

Many guests flock to the Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, Ont. to reduce stress and enjoy the hotel’s signature Valmont facials. Another popular service is the Elixir Facial & Body Treatment ($300), which uses Valmont’s Elixir des Glaciers product line, renowned for its hydrating and anti-aging properties. The 85-minute treatment combines an anti-aging collagen mask followed by a full-body massage.

“Massage remains a favourite [treatment] for the stressed-out guest,” confirms Holbrook. “We also offer wonderful new treatments such as reiki, craniosacral therapy (see “The Cutting-edge of Wellness,” p. 52) reflexology and guided meditation. Holbrook notes that the spa at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, managed by Marriott International, offers workshops on stress reduction and managing sleep deprivation. “Educating clients is a big aspect of wellness,” says Holbrook. “The more they know about treatments the better they can target the health issue they want to address.”

Michelle Punj, Spa and Health manager at Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver, says customers swear by the WuShu Body Wisdom service. This treatment is based on traditional Chinese medicine and involves a combination of guided deep breathing, martial arts, stretching and tai-chi massage with bamboo sticks. Each session costs approximately $160 per hour. “This reflects our spa’s dedication to holistic treatments,” explains Punj. “Clients begin by activating their whole body through intense stretching with bamboo sticks. This gets the energy flowing. And the massage accesses deep acupuncture points through the use of bamboo sticks as well.”

The Bottom Line
No matter how great the services are, they won’t help if potential customers don’t know what they’re missing. Neighbourhood residents can be a key income stream, but getting them through the door isn’t easy.

“We have focused on our sales and marketing in the past few years and have given a lot of thought to packages that entice local guests to experience us for the day,” says Julie Simcox, spa director at Langdon Hall. “By combining the spa services with other departments, such as the dining room in Langdon Hall’s historic main house, guests come for a [package] deal — a treatment and some gourmet cuisine. We’ve succeeded in developing a strong local following.”

Punj has a different tactic for attracting city dwellers to the spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. “We use weddings or hotel events as opportunities [to promote] spa services,” she explains. “And the impact has been dramatic.” A multi-pronged marketing approach — a combination of street signage, social-media campaigns, search-engine optimization and free treatments to bloggers and journalists writing about the spa — promotes services to the local community. This brings a lot of foot traffic into the hotel and also translates into locals recommending it to visitors. In fact, 52 per cent of spa guests are local residents while 48 per cent are guests at the property.

Catering to hotel guests is always important. “The bonus for hotel guests is they can bill [services] to their room,” says Punj. Hotel guests also benefit from special discounts or packages directed at travellers suffering from jetlag, for example. “For travellers coming from a long distance, we recommend our Traveller’s Retreat,” adds Punj. “It includes a foot soaking, a steam, massage and head massage — very effective for jetlag.”

Hotel guests are clearly willing to spend a little extra to get some much-needed relief from the world’s stresses, which is great news at hotel spas and wellness centres where there are as many paths to well-being as there are people.

Volume 27, Number 2

Written By: Jennifer Febbraro



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