Turning The Latest Spa Designs and Trends Into Profits

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COVID 19’s impact on the latest spa and wellness trends is undeniable.

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for innovation in spa design and services, pushing spas to innovate with new services and technologies that meet the changing needs of their clients.

After years of isolation, fear, uncertainty and disconnectedness from loved ones, there has been a shift in consumer values that reflects a pent-up need for more social wellness as people crave community, human connections and nature-based experiences.

As people continue to prioritize wellness, both physically and emotionally, spa treatments are no longer being viewed as a luxury, but a necessity. The spa experience is not just about pampering and aesthetics but rather a holistic approach toward self-care and healthier lifestyles. In the past, hotels and resorts simply were expected to have a swimming pool. Now, more guests are looking for spas and wellness amenities in their travel destinations. People want to get together more than before, and spas are becoming the vehicle for socialization and travel.

Forest bathing...

— Photo by Arch Amenities GroupForest bathing...

— Photo by Arch Amenities Group
Forest bathing…

— Photo by Arch Amenities Group

Social “Spa-ing:” A Return to Shared Spa Experiences

While guests traditionally have opted for privacy in a spa setting, many now crave connection and shared experiences, with wellness as the overarching pillar. While the trend two years ago was more about social distancing, now shared social spaces are more in demand. As a result, spas have expanded their wellness offerings beyond the typical spa treatments. We see a lot of that in the programming as well as in the designs we are providing to our clients. An example is creating hydrothermal areas where people can be more social together in a bathhouse-type of space. As a bonus, the health benefits can be achieved without high labor costs for hoteliers.

Social Bathing and Hydrothermal Wellness

Social bathing and hydrothermal wellness services are increasingly popular spa treatments focused on water-based therapies in a communal setting. For centuries, people have harnessed the healing powers of water and heat and the health benefits of hot and cold contrast therapy. Social bathing has a long history in many cultures, and it is proven to have numerous health benefits, including improved circulation, stress reduction and relief of muscle and joint pain. Hydrothermal spa and wellness experiences can vary from saunas and steam rooms to hot springs and bathhouses. This encourages slower spa experiences that are all about escaping and trading the constant digital connection of social media for more meaningful personal connection.

Social Spaces for Groups: “Spa Inside a Spa”

People want to get back together to share the journey of wellness with each other, many seeking more VIP suites within spas. Spa designs continue to reflect the shift toward shared experiences by offering social spaces within the spa itself that cater to couples or small groups of friends or loved ones who wish to be together without impacting other guests who want to relax in a quiet room. We anticipate a rise in the popularity of small-group treatment suites and cabanas that go beyond the obvious spa lounge areas that serve as a social hub. VIP suites are ideal for social “spa-ing.” They can be an integral part of a spa journey and contribute additional revenue.

Connection to Nature

Following the restrictions of the pandemic, people are also longing for a deeper, more emotional reconnection with nature. This has led to an increase in outdoor and nature-based activities, such as outdoor yoga, hiking and forest bathing, where guests go on guided tours to discover the restorative power of being in nature.

Spas oriented toward helping guests feel more grounded have also embraced interiors that feature textures, colors and patterns that reflect the natural world and create a greater sense of calm. Overall, spaces should feel more holistic, creating environments where treatments can evolve over time without impacting the overall design. While still functionally important, space layout and aesthetics are taking a back seat to guest wellness and shared experiences with friends and family.

Technology and Touchless Services

Innovative touchless treatments are playing a significant part in the spa and wellness industry. The pandemic brought technology to the forefront when hands-on services were greatly limited. As the spa industry evolved to survive, touchless wellness started to emerge, and companies started to promote no- or low-touch treatments in their spas. While staff must ensure the machines are running, these services allow clients to relax and rejuvenate without the need for physical contact with therapists or other clients. Examples include using compression stations for leg circulation; recreational oxygen; cryotherapy; infrared and other light therapies for body detox and skin rejuvenation; and stress-reduction sessions incorporating sound, vibration and light.

Offering high-tech treatment options within a traditional spa setting can improve the guest experience and lead to an increase in spa bookings. Hands-free spa treatments have been gaining popularity and may represent a way forward for spas and hoteliers. They include a new segment of services to diversify their revenue streams, increase profits and even provide a menu of services for which traditional hands-on therapists are not required. Guests also customize what experience they want by using both traditional and contactless services together.

Virtual Reality is a Reality

Virtual reality experiences are also on the rise, allowing guests to have a more immersive spa experience, such as a guided meditation in a beautiful landscape. Imagine going to your yoga classroom and being transported to a tropical island or starlit night. VR-powered relaxation programs can transport clients by touching all the senses with visual scenery, music and aromatherapy-scented atmospheres creating a full, multi-sensory experience.

While it is unlikely that touchless wellness will replace massages and body treatments in the minds of the spa-going public, spas should keep a close eye on technological advancements that can enhance their offerings among various demographics, such as younger generations that already are so virtually and digitally connected and very comfortable with technology.

New Spas Offer the Latest Technology

Resorts are starting to integrate these concepts into their operations. The Spa and Wellness Center at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in La Romana, Dominican Republic, which opened in May 2023, features over 18,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor facilities. It is a prime example of key 2023 trends, such as reconnecting with nature, touchless wellness, private group spaces and social bathing with various hydrothermal experiences.

To reconnect with nature, each of the spa’s 13 treatment rooms offers a private garden and outdoor rain shower spa. Guests also will experience an extensive, state-of-the-art hydrothermal circuit featuring sauna, steam, aromatherapy showers, ice fountain, a Kneipp walk, indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy massage pools and cold plunges. The spa will offer hands-free experiences, such as the MLX i3 Dome Detox, which combines far infrared technology with plasma and light therapy to provide a new level of detoxification and skin rejuvenation; and Drift Binaural Massage on the Welnamis Aquawave Bed, a computer-controlled acoustic and vibrational therapy that trains the brain to relax and benefit from deep relaxation.

The resort’s “spa within a spa” caters to VIPs, groups and the bridal market. Facilities include a private entrance, large lounge, spa treatment suite, makeup station, three-way mirror dressing area, two restrooms with showers, a refreshment area and a private outdoor garden with shower, vitality pool and relaxation area.

Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas

— Photo by Arch Amenities GroupAstral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas

— Photo by Arch Amenities Group
Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas

— Photo by Arch Amenities Group

Offering Authenticity and a Sense of Place

Authenticity has become an increasingly important factor in the spa industry as clients seek experiences that are genuine, meaningful and culturally relevant. By incorporating local and cultural influences in spa design using indigenous materials and artwork and by offering treatments and services that reflect the destination, operators can create more authentic experiences and, ultimately, drive revenue.

Spas also can promote authenticity by educating clients about the history and traditions behind their treatments and services. This can help create a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance of the spa experience and promote a sense of respect and reverence for the local culture.

The 8,000-square-foot Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers a nostalgic, yet contemporary take on the city’s bathhouse spa experience. In the early 1900s, the secluded town was a favorite getaway destination for the rich and infamous, becoming the birthplace of bathhouse spa resorts in the United States and celebrated as The Spa City–America’s First Resort. One hundred years later, visitors still flock to Hot Springs for a glimpse into the city’s turn-of-the-20th-century heyday and are increasingly seeking modern amenities that complement the area’s entertainment.

Designed by HBG Design with Arch Amenities Group, the spa is the first major full-service spa to be designed and built in the city in over a century. This retreat celebrates the history of Hot Springs with a modern take on its iconic bathhouses, with vintage-inspired needle showers – sometimes called cage showers – that direct jets of water all around the torso; ladies’ and gentlemen’s relaxation parlors; cooling room; vitality pool; sauna; and thermal lounges.

The spa also offers a glimpse into the world of thoroughbred horse racing through its furnishings and amenities. An illuminated quartz crystal wall that greets visitors as they enter represents one of the region’s natural resources. The art and atmosphere portray the 1920s elegance of entertainment, gambling and relaxation. Landon Shockey, lead interior designer at Memphis-based HBG Design, describes it as a celebration of an era “when ladies and gentlemen donned their best bespoke styles to see and be seen.”

Experiencing Local Culture

The new Salterra Resort & Spa Turks and Caicos Islands, scheduled to open in the summer of 2024, exemplifies spa design steeped in local culture. The resort has been re-envisioned to provide wellness experiences that provide an authentic sense of place as well as traditional and new hands-free wellness treatments.

Inspired by the unique nature of South Caicos, Arch Amenities Group sought to include authenticity, connection to nature and the unexpected in all guest experiences, amenities and services. Some of the curated experiences include scuba diving in one of the world’s largest barrier reefs followed by a bonfire dinner. The touchless services include an over-the-water pavilion with morning sound bath and breathwork – a lymphatic face and NormaTec compression therapy that applies pulse technology often used to help increase circulation in the lower legs.

Driving Sales through Training

With the right management strategy, spas can be a valuable profit center for hotels, but sales training is key. Staff members must be an extension of the sales team, speaking with guests and educating them on programs, services and products. However, it is not “sales to be salesy.” It’s sales to support the individual needs of the clients and enhance their experiences. This ethos is so important that it becomes part of the culture.

An Increase in Personalization

Personalization will be key in 2023 and beyond. Operators will be challenged to redefine wellness as more than just a day at the spa. Spas can tailor treatments and services to the individual needs and preferences of their clients and encourage them to continue their wellness regimen at home. This can help create a more meaningful and authentic experience.

Customized spa treatments can include personalized aromatherapy blends, massages tailored to specific areas of the body and treatments that address specific skin concerns.

It’s important to note that wellness today includes more than just fitness. It now encompasses self-care, mental and physical health and overall well-being. For example, at spas managed by Arch Amenities Group, we’re ensuring that our services go beyond the treatment by giving our guests take-home samples and customizing their treatments with other offerings, such as yoga, hiking and meditation walks.

Partnering With a Third Party

There are benefits to bringing in a consultant to help design, manage and sell spa services. Consultants can leverage their industry knowledge to ensure a spa is authentic, not cookie cutter. That expertise also can help owners focus on running the spa efficiently, with financial viability in mind.

A third-party management group can analyze trends and forecast sales to develop long-term strategies, objectives and operational plans based on best practices, growth, profitability, scope development, feasibility, design and vendor management.

A well-managed spa can be a significant profit center for hoteliers. Hotel spas will need to be adaptable and innovative in the post-COVID world, prioritizing safety; offering virtual and touchless services; promoting health and wellness; incorporating outdoor and nature-based experiences; and leveraging digital technologies.

About Arch Amenities Group

Arch Amenities Group, based in Rockville, Maryland, is a leading provider of amenity management, hospitality consulting and recruiting services for commercial and residential properties, hotels, spas, private clubs, and pools. Arch provides pre-opening and sustaining strategy and support for leading wellness and amenity spaces in the United States and across the globe. Arch is a portfolio company of private equity firm CI Capital Partners.

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