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Adding On to the Bottom Line

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: March 30, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Ruby Room Guest Room

The guest rooms at Ruby Room supply a comfortable place of respite for Chicago visitors who are seeking a less structured, more free-form environment with spa services available.

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The tea room is open every day, although Shaw clarifies that it isn’t a restaurant. Clients can lounge in the tea room before or after services, and complimentary lemon water, tea and fresh-baked pastries are available. For those who want high tea, which includes sandwiches and special desserts, along with tea and scones, it costs $14.95–16.95 per person, and 48-hour notice is necessary.

Although people can enjoy tea separately from spa services, many combine the two experiences. “There are clients who add it on to their spa day, such as sisters, friends, and mothers and daughters,” explains Shaw. “We also offer a children’s tea that is $9.95 per person and services can be added on with that. They get a choice of kid-appropriate sandwiches, such as peanut butter and jelly on cut-out breads, as well as cookies and fresh fruit, and they can also have tea, if they wish.”

Although she doesn’t make a huge amount of profit from the tea room, Shaw says it is a draw for her spa. “People will come in and have the tea plus services, but I’ll make more money for the services. It’s a different concept. They’re looking forward to sharing time with each other. They sit around and laugh and gossip, and the tea room is separate from the reception area, so they have privacy.” The room has also been used for bachelorette parties, children’s birthday parties and as a meeting room.

Word-of-mouth is the best marketing for Adagio, but Shaw also creates postcards to be passed out in the town’s business district, updates its Web site regularly and performs e-mail blast marketing to its client database. Shaw also advises that expensive china isn’t necessary. “It has a tendency to break. I shop the thrift shops and look for hand-me-downs,” she says.

Le Chateau de Frenche Day Spa & Private Tea Room, Brooklyn, New York. Before the owner Nikima Frenche opened her business, she decided a tea room would be an aspect that would set her business apart. “I attended a culinary institute, and a woman from the Waldorf Astoria came in to talk about the tea service. After that, I had tea at various venues, especially in high-end hotels, and that’s where that piece came from. When I started the skin care portion of my business, I wanted to figure out what my differential experience would be, so that’s where the combination of spa and tea started,” she explains.