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Defining Your Spa

Naomi Serviss February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

It’s no secret that baby boomers have discovered the healing nature of spa-going. The challenge for spa owners and operators is to keep them coming back .One way to do so, according to several spa representatives, is to add assorted novel programs, challenges and even spa rituals.

Use your surroundings

It is often a good idea for spa owners to use the natural beauty of the world around their facility to enhance their clients’ experiences.

For instance, Mii amo at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, makes the most of its red rock canyon surroundings. “The main thing at Mii amo and Enchantment Resort are the more culturally inspired activities,” says Deborah Waldvogel, director of spa operations and resort activities at the facility. “For example, we have something called ‘The Vortex Walk,’ in which the guest merely walks silently and enjoys the gorgeous surroundings.”

Other programs at Mii amo that are popular with more active guests include guided hikes and mountain bike excursions.

At Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, a celestial program has enticed guests who wish to revel in the area’s star-filled nights. “Tucson is known as ‘the astronomy capital,’ ” says the facility’s public relations manager Sarah Beal. “We have five observatories in the surrounding area and have instituted a program with an astronomy student from the University of Arizona.”

Guests can sign up for courses in stargazing and star-mapping. The theme is even followed in every guest’s room. “At turn-down, a little astronomy booklet is placed in the room,” Beal states. “You can even receive a ‘Star Menu’ that highlights what to look for at night.”

Another optional activity offered by Ventana Canyon Ranch is nighttime hiking around the resort. “We utilize a hiking specialist for all the holiday seasons that we call the Awake and Aware hikes,” said Beal.

Many guests at Canyon Ranch also add Jeep tours through nearby mountains to their excursion choices. “Anything the guest wants, we try to accommodate,” said Beal. “We even set up Barbecue Adventures or a visit to Old Tucson, a replica of the Old West.”

Specialty programs

Offering a wide variety of tailor-made treatments and programs also can endear your spa to visitors. “I think the thing boosting business the most is the level of medical treatments we have right on site,” says Erinn Figg, public relations director of the Canyon Ranch’s Tucson location. “We have a new partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and the combination of our board-certified specialists and theirs is outstanding.”

One of the spa’s signature services is its executive program that caters to businesspeople who may find themselves drained by their day-to-day activities. “A lot of our guests are successful and stressed-out, and they work toward achieving their health goals here,” Figg says.

Whether through strenuous mountain hiking or through healing touch options, guests’ needs are addressed. Program advisors often recommend additional treatments. “At Canyon Ranch you can be as busy or unscheduled as you want,” states Figg. “People here are overwhelmingly surprised as to the kinds of choices and activities to help them achieve emotional and behavioral goals.”

“We offer guests’ physical assessments using video conferencing on nutrition and wellness,” Figg continues. “We all want people to live healthier lives and come to resorts and optimize their fitness goals.”

The Miraval Resort in Tuscon offers The Equine Experience, which is presented by author and horse communicator Wyatt Webb. Rather than learning to ride a horse, guests are challenged by learning how to groom a horse, clean its hooves and command it to trot, gambol or walk. “One of the biggest draws here at Miraval is the Equine Experience,” says Barbara MacDonald, Miraval’s public relations director. “The goal is to encourage guests not to actually ride a horse, but to examine their own methodology in dealing with colleagues, associates, employees or others in their lives.”

Additionally, many spas offer activity-related treatments that complement programs such as these, thus offering additional incentives to those active boomers who seek relaxation after a strenuous workout. For example, the Willow Stream Spas at Fairmont offers guests the Golf Performance Treatment, a massage therapy that is meant to complement the resorts’ popular golf courses.

The bottom line

From increased awareness to indigenous surroundings to personal on-the-spot training sessions, spa owners are eager to increase their bottom lines while helping to augment their guests’ relaxation and fitness. Hopefully, this leads to customer loyalty and far-reaching positive word-of-mouth.