In response to heightened consumer demand for a healthier world, wellness is poised to take a larger role in the hotel experience.
The devastating human toll exacted by the global coronavirus pandemic has pushed health and wellbeing to the forefront.
It’s also led to seismic structural shifts in how the world conducts its business—and I would argue, for the hospitality industry. It represents a pivotal moment in which health and wellness ascend to join overnight room accommodation and food and beverage as the dominant revenue streams, and in the process rounds out the ideal experiential trifecta.
This could be one of the greatest success stories for our industry emerging from these unconventional times. Owners, operators, investors and developers must acknowledge that spa and fitness wellness can no longer to be viewed as “asides,” as add-ons to boost your luxury rating. But rather, there is tremendous opportunity for the industry to fundamentally overhaul how it delivers and monetizes these experiences.
Here’s how. If you have a guest with you at your resort for a weeklong stay, traditionally it would be considered a win if you got them into the spa once. The current price point for a single service—which in many cases rivals overnight room rates, is a barrier that I think needs to shift toward a daily-use model, where guests are encouraged to access health and wellness throughout their stay, not just as a one-time treat or to celebrate a special occasion.
There are numerous benefits to this approach.
It will boost occupancy rates and push operations to full capacity, leaving therapists who once sat idly waiting for guests, now able to foster client relationships with returning guests, building their trust and cultivating a loyal following.
In this new world, hotel spas must evaluate how their value is perceived, which likely means redesigning service menus and developing business plans that put greater emphasis on frequency of purchase/use versus average ticket price. With global travel trends leaning toward longer stays triggered by quarantine protocols, fitness, wellness and repeat spa visits become even more important in driving average daily spend.
Focusing solely within the confines of the hotel spa walls is a tremendous oversight and is even more detrimental now with COVID capacity restrictions. Accessibility and convenience are critical factors. Spa operators need to look beyond their walls and extend hours and service out into common spaces of the hotel, into the food and beverage product and into the room product, so that guest can conveniently access health and wellness throughout their stay, around the clock, wherever they are on the property.
Health and wellness experts, therapists, programming, equipment and product can be innovatively deployed and integrated across the hotel. Whether the property boasts a spa or not, integration beyond the department is essential. It means revisiting how spas and wellness offerings are packaged, which is a unique challenge, but not insurmountable.
Just like booking an ocean-view room, hotel guests should be able to book an upgrade that includes integrated principles of wellness design right in the guestroom. Your wellness upgrade might offer tiers of specially designed rooms that emphasize holistic aspects like air quality, lighting, acoustics and materials for a healthier stay. In the luxury segment, perhaps suites flexibly convert to allow for in-room massage and feature micro hydrothermal circuits.
Beyond that, consider innovative in-room and propertywide programming. How do you provide your guest the chance to recover, rest and regenerate? Can you find educational opportunities and curate events and demonstrations for various service and product-driven experiences in unique environments? Why not extend wellness upgrades to food and beverage with immune-boosting menus, culinary classes and recipe recommendations containing nutrient-dense ingredients for at-home integration?
The hotel spa as it once existed has been continuously redefined to encompass a much broader view of health, wellness and wellbeing. These tenets now need to be further upgraded, wholly integrated and embedded into the DNA of your brand or collection of properties. Undeniably, this change of course requires financial investment, yet if strategically implemented and executed, we argue the return will reap great rewards—financially, operationally and experientially.
Jennifer Findlay is the founder of Core Essence, a Design and Consulting Firm specializing in Spa & Wellness. Contact her at Jennifer@coreessence.ca.
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