A Spa For All Seasons

By | October 12th, 2017

Spa Cafe at Boulders Resort & Spa, Carefree, Ariz.

Along with the rapid expansion of fitness centers, properties are investing in sprawling, active spa facilities and amenities that address modern health and wellness concerns.

As meditation and mindfulness practices go mainstream and their efficacy is backed up by scientific research, the perception of wellness these days is less patchouli oil and incense, and more stress management and mental-health support.

Club and resort properties are responding to the increased public interest in methods designed to help de-clutter the mind and reinforce the mind-body connection by creating sprawling, serene spa facilities that appeal to all of the senses. Often paired with (or adjacent to) fitness centers, the spa amenity encourages all members and guests to step in and breathe a little easier.

A Wellness Boost
This past January, Harbour Ridge in Palm City, Fla., unveiled the result of its $8.9 million investment in wellness with its new Lakeside facility. The 22,000-sq. ft. wellness complex—which includes cardio, free weight and stretch areas, a spin room, and a juice and smoothie bar, along with tennis facilities and an aquatics center—also offers signature spa services.

• Offering themed spa packages can help members feel less daunted when choosing services.
• Salon and barber amenities pair well with spa facilities and encourage regular use from a variety of members.
• Identify segments within the membership to develop offerings catered to their needs, such as an athletes’ massage.

Prior to the project, Harbour Ridge’s wellness offering was a 2,000-sq. ft. former restaurant that had been transformed into a fitness center, says Jennifer Tamules, Lakeside’s Director. That structure, which Tamules says resembled a double-wide trailer, was demolished and Lakeside was built on the same footprint. During construction, which took about a year, fitness facilities were moved to the main clubhouse.

But before Lakeside came to be, the club offered minimal spa amenities. “I would not call it a spa,” Tamules says. “We had two rooms where we offered massages staffed by two therapists. They were quite busy.”

The club weighed the pros and cons of building an entire spa for years, Tamules says, and a great deal of research was undertaken as the community went back and forth on whether the investment was necessary or beneficial.

“We have to keep up with the times and what other clubs are doing, and we want to be the best,” Tamules says. “So, we built an entire full-service spa and salon.”

Lakeside at Harbour Ridge, Palm City, Fla.

Within Lakeside, the spa and salon take up about 8,000 sq. ft., consisting of four treatment rooms (one is a wet room for full-body scrubs and wraps), as well as four manicure stations, four pedicure stations, three hair stations, a separate barber facility for men, and a unisex relaxation room.

The overall look of Lakeside is “contemporary coastal,” Tamules says, with a mix of gray and navy blue. In fact, the main clubhouse is now undergoing an interior renovation to match the look of the Lakeside facility.

As for Lakeside’s clientele, Tamules reports that a “huge variety” of members make use of the amenity. “Existing members still come in for therapeutic massage and for physical therapy,” she says. “But we’ve also had people come in who have never had a spa treatment before.”

The facility offers a natural line of spa products as well as a medical-grade skin care line. At the same time, it caters to children with princess manicures and pedicures, and “fairy hair,” in which tinsel is knotted into the hair root for a glittery look. “During the holidays, kids love it,” Tamules says.

SaunaPod at SaunaBar, Los Angeles

Finding a Niche

The spa industry is no stranger to innovation, with an ever-morphing list of offerings, ingredients and treatments. As such, properties are looking for unique ways to set themselves apart. Here’s a sampling of some that have found an especially distinctive niche:
The Man Spa – According to the International SPA Association, only 29% of spa-goers in 2005 were male. But that figure today is 49%, and Living Fresh Men’s Spa in New York is trying to take full advantage of the trend, featuring masculine design aesthetics while offering grooming, massage, facials, manicures and pedicures.
Technology – Trendy spa facilities like SaunaBar in Los Angeles are incorporating treatments that use high-tech machinery such as Infrared SaunaPods (which emit light therapy), Lymphatic Compression Massage, and the Magnesphere (which uses magnetic resonance) to detoxify, promote lymphatic drainage, relieve pain, reduce stress, improve balance and result in weight loss.
Silence – At the Global Wellness Summit in Kitzbuhel, Austria, industry leaders compiled a list of trends for 2017, including destinations that are truly “turning off” the noise. The first completely “Silent Spa” just opened at Austria’s Therme Laa Hotel, and properties like Germany’s Brenner’s Park have even installed “digital kill switches” for totally silent rooms.
Career Support – As part of a strategy to identify, train and retain key spa workers, UK-based hotel group Macdonald Hotels has introduced the Spa Career Development Plan, designed to provide staff with access to structured support and a program of continued professional development.
Self-Discovery – Increasingly, people are seeking purpose and self-discovery through travel and retreats. Le Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City, Canada is the home base of the Augustinian order of nuns and offers an introspective wellness retreat, with a typical itinerary including morning meditation, silent meals, and yoga.
Creativity – Spa properties are incorporating more art, music, literature and dance in clever ways—at Schloss Elmau, a famed spa resort in Klun, Germany, musicians and writers “play to stay” (making 200+ concerts a year).

The most popular spa treatment at Lakeside is the “Ultimate Renewal,” an 80-minute service that starts with a full-body scrub, goes into a massage, and ends with a full-body wrap. Wraps that use pure Turkish mud are popular among “outdoorsy” members, Tamules says, for how they detoxify and soften the skin. Traditional massage and aromatherapy continue to be popular as well.

While the spa currently offers “traditional” products and services, Tamules says the club is looking into adding a salt generator, so members and guests can relax in a salt room (it is believed that inhaling the negatively charged ions in salt may reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs, improving respiratory conditions). “As we were building, we didn’t want to get too trendy, because members were still getting over the shock of building the spa itself,” Tamules says. “But now we’re looking into adding what is hot now.”

To promote its enhanced amenity, Harbour Ridge offers discounts on spa treatments and products with its tennis programs, and also teams with the food-and-beverage department for ladies’ events during men’s golf tournaments, incorporating scents and ingredients from the spa’s monthly farmhouse-fresh line into special drinks. The facility also offers seminars and brings in a medical dermatologist once a month.

Feast for the Senses
Billed as “So much more than a place to enjoy a good massage,” The Spa at Pelican Hill, a 23,000-sq. ft. facility at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, Calif., features 22 private treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas, and saltwater Roman soaking tubs, with design elements that include a wall of flowing water and a 28-foot-high Palladian rotunda.

The spa’s extensive offerings easily fill a 30-page brochure. Kate Starr, Director of Communications, says the most popular offerings are the Amber Gold Signature massage, which begins with a dry-brushing exfoliation and enhanced oils, followed by a Swedish massage; and the Seasonal Body Gelato, which combines fresh ingredients and botanicals for a scrub and wrap (ingredients change by the season, with fig in summer, pomegranate in fall, honey in winter and lavender in spring), completed with a gelato treat.

But ultimately, guests are “seeking a highly personalized spa experience,” Starr says. For men, the resort offers a “Just for Him” package that includes a deep-tissue massage, grooming facial and haircut, while the “Just for Her” package includes a signature Body Gelato treatment, manicure, pedicure and classic cleansing facial. Both packages include a spa cuisine lunch, with a menu that includes gluten-free and vegan offerings.

For guests seeking an entire day of escape, Pelican Hill’s “Day of Wellness” features a fully customized itinerary, including a workout, spa treatments, meals, and ample leisure time.

Lakeside at Harbour Ridge, Palm City, Fla.

Garden View
Finding a spa in Arizona is far from a challenging task. But Boulders Resort & Spa in Carefree, Ariz., seeks to set itself apart with its massive 33,000-sq. ft. spa facility, which wraps around the property’s signature boulder monument.

The facility is divided into two wings: the active west wing, featuring the fitness center, mind/body and movement studios, and the Spa Café; and the tranquil east wing, with meditation areas, treatment spaces, hydrotherapy, a full-service salon, locker rooms, and a circular tea room.

As for the services themselves, the resort reports that male guests tend to stick to the basics and keep it simple. “They want to unwind from their busy work week and have more of a ‘kick my feet up and relax’ kind of attitude,” says Spa Director Danielle French. “They lean heavily towards massages and even pedicures, and spend the rest of their day lounging poolside.” Women, alternatively, tend to select body treatments.

The spa features a 5,600-sq. ft. organic garden that incorporates naturally flowing water, a reflection pond and two outdoor dining areas with room for 10 to 50 people. The space is adorned with planter boxes growing seasonal organic vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Perimeter walls are dedicated to an orchard of citrus trees (grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime), kumquats, a fig tree and grapes.

The Spa at Pelican Hill features 22 private treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas, and saltwater Roman soaking tubs.

Chef Dinners are hosted in the garden once a month from November to April, with kitchen instruction held in the spa classroom. The master gardener offers tours of the garden, and cooking demonstrations are held as well.

One trend that the spa incorporates (while insisting that it’s not a fad) is creating a balanced lifestyle.

“More and more people are focusing on the mind, body and spirit and how it’s improving their everyday life,” French says. “Offering organic treatments or more meditative healing services such as Reiki [in which therapists channel energy into the patient by means of touch], allows guests the opportunity to pamper themselves while still staying connected to their natural lifestyle.”


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