Skin Inc. magazine's First Annual Best of the Best Awards

Created to honor the industry’s finest in spa business practices and innovative products, the Best of the Best Awards are divided into two categories—Industry and Supplier.

The Industry categories are business-driven and were judged by a neutral panel of industry experts. The Supplier categories are reader-driven, and all nominations were submitted by Skin Inc. magazine readers online via By using our neutral judging system and candid reader entries, the Best of the Best Awards is the most unbiased, most prestigious honor given in the field today.

The judges were very impressed by all the entries that were submitted for the awards this year and had a very difficult time choosing the winners in each category. In fact, because of this and some similarly popular products, a tie took place in both an Industry and a Supplier category. Without further ado, the winners are …

Best Marketing Campaign: Spa Gregorie's, Newport Beach, CA

In the awards’ most popular category, Spa Gregorie’s stood out by providing examples of three different successful and unique marketing strategies used throughout the year: leverage marketing, cause marketing and marketing to trends.

Beauty and the Bistro. This leverage marketing campaign married the facility’s spa experience with a delightful dining opportunity at a nearby popular French restaurant called Rouge Bistro. The package included a 60-minute massage, a champagne lunch, and all taxes and gratuities at a discounted rate. It was marketed through the use of a variety of traditional methods, as well as unique ones, such as an event during which the wives of local Marines who recently were deployed to Iraq received the packages. From this outreach effort, Spa Gregorie’s received an official proclamation from the city of Newport Beach. The results of this effort included significant profit, extensive press coverage and ensured visibility to diners at Rouge Bistro.

Massage-a-Thon/Raffle and Pink Panther Party. In this example of cause marketing, Spa Gregorie’s raised money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The spa has been doing this since 1998, and the timing revolves around the annual Orange County Race for the Cure, which attracts more than 30,000 people. The activities included a Massage-a-Thon at the race, goody bags, a raffle and silent auction, and a gala reception called The Pink Panther Party. Innovative marketing methods of this event included a silent auction on eBay and an Arabian Nights-style tent at the race. Spa Gregorie’s has raised close to a quarter of a million dollars for the foundation throughout the past eight years, and it believes there is great benefit in giving to a cause that touches its client demographic so closely.

Wellness Rocks. Trend marketing was used to promote this menu of services, lectures and activities that endorse healthy lifestyles and anti-aging practices among Spa Gregorie’s client base. The series includes healthy service menu items, such as acupuncture; monthly activities, such as yoga on the beach; and monthly seminars, such as couples “how-to” massage. Unique marketing methods included hosting an Anti-aging Festival that featured the spa’s wellness experts and community partners. Because of the facility’s efforts, the series is profitable, has received much press and has helped more than 200 people, so far, to become healthier.

Top Spa Mentor: Maureen Vipperman, spa directory, Spa at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort, Dana Point, CA

Although Maureen Vipperman recently has accepted the position of spa director at The Spa at Pacific Palms at the Pacific Palms Resort in Industry, California, scheduled to open in February 2007, she left an indelible mark on her former place of employment and continues to inspire the industry. Within the Spa at Laguna Cliffs, Vipperman mentored and counseled her own staff, as well as four college interns per year, in order to motivate those who want to learn more about a career in the spa industry. Her expertise has been tapped by many publications on a variety of topics, and she always encourages the pursuit of education and advancement within the profession. Vipperman is the co-chair for the Orange County Spa Director Roundtable, and she holds a seat on the International SPA Association’s (ISPA) Marketing Committee. She passes down her unique blend of marketing and client relations to her team, setting a standard for excellence throughout the spa and the industry as a whole.

Most Employee-friendly Spa: Rejuvenation Spa, Madison, WI

True to the motto that there is no “I” in “team,” staff members at Rejuvenation Spa must be some of the most envied in the industry. Combining a unique pay philosophy with a constant focus on teamwork, this spa comes out on top. The following benefits slowed turnover and helped it continue to increase client retention, as well as total sales by 25%. No team member has left the spa to work for a different facility during the past year.

Team-based pay. Almost five years ago, Rejuvenation Spa switched from commission-based pay to team-based pay, which is hourly plus bonus. If and when the spa hits a profit, 15% of the net profit is paid out to the staff. It completes reviews every four months to analyze employees’ performances. The staff also conducts a management and benefit evaluation. Wellness days are provided, which can be earned by working three consecutive months without calling in sick or coming in late.

Education. Rejuvenation Spa pays for 50% of team members’ education—up to $500 per individual per year. The spa also pays 100% of mandatory education, along with their hourly wages while they attend class, including paid travel time.

Individual recognition. The spa has a “Beat Your Week” contest. In this, if an employee exceeds one of their best weeks of the previous year in sales totals, they receive $10 to be used toward service or retail. An individual is recognized each week by management with a handwritten thank-you card and a small gift, such as a movie coupon or a free product.

Group recognition. Rejuvenation Spa hosts an AWARDS Ceremony dinner cruise yearly to recognize those with the highest service sales, retail sales, retention, productivity, best customer service and best overall performance. It also hosts a quarterly team-building event that is paid. Other initiatives include pool parties to show appreciation, as well as birthday and anniversary recognition. Rejuvenation Spa also sets up two photo shoots per year, providing opportunities for team members to have professional photographs submitted to trade magazines for potential publication.

Best Balance Between Medical and Esthetic in a Medical Spa: Blue Water Spa, Raleigh, NC

At Blue Water Spa, the plastic surgery practice and medical spa are fully integrated. Each patient/client has one chart to be used by medical professionals, estheticians and massage therapists. Each receives pre- and post-operative treatments, including lymphatic drainage and camouflage makeup, and those who come in for surgical consultations or laser services also are treated to a skin care consultation and a makeup application.

Along with this, all staff members—including customer service staff, concierges, estheticians, massage therapists, nurses, physician’s assistants and management—are trained on both medical and esthetic procedures, as well as how they work together. The spa team believes that even the best plastic surgery procedures alone are not enough to provide the ideal aesthetic enhancement. Professional skin care treatments and a customized home-care regimen using quality skin care products are essential.

Best Balance Between Medical and Esthetic in a Medical Spa: Reprieve Anti-Aging Med Spa, Warwick, RI

Unlike Blue Water Spa, Reprieve Anti-Aging Medi-Spa is a stand-alone facility that blends state-of-the-art technology with whimsical antique furnishings and a homelike atmosphere. According to president Adele Beck, Rhode Island is a difficult market because clients there are extremely conservative about welcoming new products and industries. Reprieve’s esthetic side of the business has provided the opportunity to carefully grow its medical end.

Reprieve Medi-Spa focuses on educating employees, customers and vendors. Employees experience monthly training to upgrade their customer service habits and teach them how to incorporate both medical and esthetic offerings on the menu according to each client’s needs. Monthly and quarterly seminars are available to clients with physicians, vendors and industry professionals to help them become familiar with the newest procedures, products and equipment. Close relationships are enjoyed with vendors to ensure that they understand the scope of the spa’s business.

Reprieve has a monthly drawing for clients to win a complimentary mystery treatment. The spa chooses a service based on the winner’s history. If a massage client wins the drawing, for example, the team chooses an esthetic or medical treatment, giving the person every opportunity to try all the spa services offered.

Reprieve also integrates procedures. Every facial laser treatment client receives a mask and a mineral makeup application with medical-grade products. Medical clients are treated in the same luxurious way as esthetic clients, and are provided with fresh linens, bathrobes, slippers and pillows.

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