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The 5 Senses of Consistent Spa Design

Contact Author Jaclyn Peresetsky
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Spa interior with wood panels and bright light

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How your spa is designed is crucial to communicating your brand. Choosing lighting, textures, colors or furniture that aren’t consistent with your overall brand can communicate the wrong brand message and cause clients to be confused and never return. When you design or redesign your spa, it’s important to consider your brand and the feeling that you want your clients to have when they walk in the door.

After designing several spas—know that this is sometimes easier said than done—one trick I’ve learned is to design a spa by considering the five senses: sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. Starting with the five senses can help you identify how each sense relates to your overall brand and the client experience in your spa.

"Starting with the five senses can help you identify how each sense relates to your overall brand and the client experience in your spa."

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The client experience is a factor that differentiates your spa from the spa down the street. It is that special something that makes your perfect clients want to come back to your location and forgo the others.

Sight

Let’s first explore the sense of sight. Colors are the first thing a client notices when they walk into your spa because psychologically it is what transmits first. Make sure to choose tones that complement one another or opt for a neutral palate with an accent color that reflects your brand colors.

Also consider lighting choices. Colors can look different depending on the light sources that surround it. For example, if you have a lot of natural light, then you could use fewer bright lights. If you want a low lit relaxing area in your spa, then make sure you have dimmer switches installed to alter the lighting. Should you use wall textures such as Venetian plaster to add interest and depth to the walls? This can dress up a smaller spa that could otherwise seem dull. Remember that darker shades will always make your space appear smaller, which not a great choice if the space is already small. Using lighter shades will make the space feels bigger, but could make treatment rooms feel less cozy.

Smell

Have you ever smelled something that made you think of certain person, location or event? You have the ability to add scents to your spa that are appealing to your clients and will give them a memory of your spa.

Scented candles were the big thing, but health conscious business owners and consumers try to steer clear of artificial fragrances. Essential oil used in aromatherapy through diffusers has taken over the fragrance scene. Choosing a signature scent is really important, since your client should leave smelling like your spa. For example, if orange is your brand color, an orange scent may be just thing to reinforce your brand message. You can diffuse orange oil through your spa, and maybe use infused orange massage oil in your treatments. Repetition of scent is a key branding element.

Taste

Taste can be a bit more tricky to figure out. Consider the types of snacks and beverages would you choose for your spa. Are they displayed for clients or served on plates? Are they prepackaged or freshly prepared? For example, a spa that offers chocolates compared to a spa that serves freshly cut cucumbers will communicate a different message. Chocolates can communicate indulgence which then would pretty with richer spa colors and luxurious fabric choices. Cucumbers with a light or fresh color palette combined with simple lightweight fabrics would communicate a natural based spa. Each element should work together.

Sound

You are likely aware that sound is big component in your spa, but have you ever stopped to consider how sound can reinforce your brand message? If you choose blue shades through your spa, the sound of trickling water sounds will compliment nicely. What type of music would you like your clients to hear? If you offer makeup and nails, you may want upbeat lounge music to create energy whereas in the treatment rooms you want relaxation music so your clients can truly zen out.

If you have a cultural influence in your spa’s design, you may want to choose music that reflects the cultural vibe. Music truly sets the mood and will influence your client’s buying decisions since it evokes strong emotion. Also consider your finishes when designing your spa. The flooring you select may make sounds when your staff is walking back and forth. If you have an open space, sound may travel quickly and loudly if you don’t have rugs or other elements that can absorb the sound.

Touch

The sense of touch should also be considered when choosing fabrics. Your spa’s bedding, gowns, pillows, headbands, and so forth are all elements that the client comes in contact with, so it is crucial to consider what you want her or him to feel when using these items. For example, a spa located in a warmer climate may user lightweight fabrics versus heavier, denser fabrics.

Do you choose bed warmers for your beds? In warmer climates, our spas do not use them because the last thing a client wants is to be heated back up after coming in from humidity. In colder climates, a heated bed is exactly what clients want. Then consider how to use fabrics through the waiting room, nail areas, towels, etc. In the bathrooms, do you use washable hand towels or disposable paper towels?

Reinforce Your Message

All of these senses can work together to create a memorable brand experience for your clients and reinforce your message in their minds. Because there are so many decisions to make when choosing your spa’s design, my advice is to start by defining the ultimate client experience and uncovering your brand message,e then make design decisions that reinforce them. As you chunk the information down into smaller pieces, everything will start to flow with one another.

Jaclyn Peresetsky

Jaclyn Peresetsky is CEO, esthetician and color specialist at SkinPerfect Image Wellness Spa in Columbus, Ohio. She is the author of Discover the Power of YOUR Colors (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).

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