With demand for health and wellness programming and services on the rise, clubs are redesigning their spa facilities to refocus on the body and the mind in a fully reassuring fashion.
After a tumultuous year of pivoting business operations and readapting amenities for safer visits, club managers are finally catching their breath and relearning how to function as they plan for a return to full capacity. And because overall wellness has taken on even greater significance for membership, more emphasis is being placed on redesigned spa facilities that can safely offer programming and services to provide peace of mind and rejuvenated spirits.
A Spa Worth Its Salt
At Rock Barn Country Club and Spa in Conover, N.C., a bustling spa business warranted the need for more dedicated space. “The spa facility had a strong revenue stream, but constantly received complaints about insufficient seating,” says General Manager and Vice President of Rock Barn Properties Brad Ellinger, CCM. “We had to schedule specific times for lunch service on the pool deck, along with reserving lounge chairs for guests in between service.”
By updating the current footprint, which resulted in doubling the indoor/outdoor seating area, expanding the pool spa decking and adding a waterfall feature, room was made for additional spa offerings.
To make better use of existing real estate, the club’s indoor racquetball court was converted into a group exercise room, and a second floor was added to house an expanded spa kitchen, an employee break room and a product supply cabinet. In addition, a former break room was transformed into a salt room, with five new service rooms rounding out the amenities. The overall footprint increased from 11,365 to 15,259 sq. ft.Led by designers Cheree Loflin and Greg Owens from NH Med Services, the main objective was to revitalize the spa without disrupting the relaxing vibe from the original design. Light hues and earth tones were blended seamlessly with the existing rich wood and stonework.
In the salt room, heated tile floors and lighted walls of Himalayan pink salt bricks now provide a natural backdrop for guests positioned on reclining, zero-gravity chairs. Further accenting the Rock Barn brand is a leaf image taken from the spa logo that appears as etched glass leaves on the interior doors, as well as an embroidered leaf on spa robes.
Inside the spa foyer is a retail boutique that carries locally made and national brands of soaps, bath and body products, candles and other wellness products—many of which are promoted via Rock Barn’s monthly newsletter and e-blasts. A spa café carries fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and healthy snacks, while a relaxation room allows guests to rest fireside while sipping on coconut water and enjoying a snack mix.
Even in such a calm environment, the spa renovation presented a few headaches. Integrating a new waterfall feature to the pool deck required the construction of pump rooms and chemical rooms beneath the building, along with separately engineered waterfall flumes. While Ellinger says the process involved a lot of trial and error, the waterfall was completed before the spa’s grand opening in January 2020.
Two months later, the coronavirus outbreak prompted the spa to shutter its doors and management to rethink its business operations. “The pandemic forced us to get creative in many areas of our spa offerings,” explains Ellinger. During the months-long closure, the spa launched an online retail store, and customers could pick up their purchases curbside, have them delivered locally, or mailed. Spa technicians created videos about home facials and beauty products, and offered take-home treatment kits.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, the spa is continuing to require masking, health screenings and temperature checks and social-distancing protocols. “With only two people in a service room at a time and chairs spaced apart on the spa deck, safety measures can be maintained while continuing to provide relaxation and rejuvenation, alleviating mounting stress and anxiety,” says Ellinger.
A Wealth of Opportunities
In response to members’ overwhelming interest in health and wellness opportunities, Bentwater Yacht & Country Club in Montgomery, Texas, recently underwent a massive overhaul that required a relocation of its existing spa and salon. Shifting these facilities to the opposite side of the building that also houses racquet sports, aquatics and the fitness center paved the way for subsequent renovations.“This move not only provided a new dedicated space for the salon and spa, but it increased the size available for future fitness-center expansion,” says General Manager David Sizelove, CCM. The first phase of construction, which included resurfaced tennis and pickleball courts and a redesigned aquatics area, along with the new salon and spa, began in April 2020 and was completed at the end of the year.
Amassing a total of 1,900 sq. ft., the Sanctuary Salon and Spa features a sleek and modern lobby where spa goers are immediately greeted by a smiling receptionist. (“She is smiling, but you just can’t see it behind the mask,” quips Sizelove.) Just past the reception area are two treatment rooms outfitted with adjustable massage tables, towel steamers and skincare equipment.
An adjacent nail salon contains two massaging pedicure chairs with iridescent foot bowls and leather upholstery. Cambria countertops throughout the spa, along with accent lighting and a muted color palette, create a true sanctuary. The space has also been enhanced with a new air-filtration system that, as Sizelove points out, “ensures a pleasant and healthy environment for a day of indulgence.”
During the design process, attention to detail was key in providing spacious accommodations.
“We wanted to [ensure] a nice flow that blended both an open space for salon services with the private spaces needed for the spa,” Sizelove notes. “The layout is on trend with modern salon and spa design, providing both areas with plenty of natural light, balanced with warm and inviting spaces that exude peaceful rejuvenation.”
Plans for phase two will follow suit, with a fitness center boasting larger workout spaces, multiple breakout rooms for personal training, and cross-training areas.
While COVID restrictions posed its own set of challenges during construction, especially for obtaining materials in a timely manner, the actual location of the new structure presented the biggest hurdle for designers.
Even in the short time that the spa and salon have been opened, member response to the new facility has been favorable, as evidenced by a notable increase in foot traffic for the spa. Because these facilities have been operating in pandemic mode since day one, the staff at Bentwater has been well-schooled in carrying out safe practices. All team members have been trained on enhanced hygiene and sanitation protocols, and additional time is factored in between bookings, so all treatment spaces can be fully sanitized and disinfected.
To further reduce the risk of contact-surface contamination, members have the option to prepay for services remotely via their club account. Bottled water is provided in lieu of complimentary beverages, and the staff assists with product selection instead of allowing guests to self-select.
“As we officially opened our Sanctuary Salon and Spa, there is a great deal of excitement about the expansion of services and the increased activity it will bring to the club,” says Sizelove. “Carefully balancing the increase in bookings, along with the extra safety protocols, will be the daily area of focus for our team.”
Health as a Lifestyle
To better accommodate increased member interest in maintaining overall health, The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, Calif., updated its spa and wellness center with a full-service hair and nail salon in 2019. The renovation also prompted the facility to upgrade existing amenities and repurpose the space for enhanced programming. “With the average age of our membership at 65, the demand has moved towards a very active and fit community,” explains CEO/General Manager Steve Cenicola.
Sporting a contemporary design, the rejuvenated spa reflects the club’s mission to ensure an environmentally sound experience, with an emphasis on green living. Designers opted for furnishings made from recycled wood and wood sourced from renewable forests, along with energy-efficient lighting.
“The [Environmental Protection Agency]’s Energy Star program opened the door to luxuriously styled decorative lighting fixtures that use one-third of the energy consumed by standard fixtures,” notes Cenicola. “By using less energy, we release fewer greenhouse gas emissions.”
Carrying this green-minded thinking even further, the spa is outfitted with low-flow, water-saving shower heads and aerators, as well as low-flow toilets and sinks. Guests also benefit from organic bamboo and birch-fiber linens and robes during spa treatments, and eco-friendly apparel is available for purchase in the spa’s retail boutique.
While creating room for the 700-sq. ft. hair and 800-sq. ft. nail salon was not without obstacles, the renovation prompted the club to restructure its layout, Cenicola says. “Our biggest challenge was creating two entirely new spaces without disrupting any of the existing amenities,” he notes. “With a thoughtful process and repurposing the plethora of space within our facility, we were able to do just that.”
The facility has been upgraded with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems and air purifiers, while in the treatment and spa service areas, acrylic shields have been added to the manicure and pedicure stations and silicone covers are on the massage beds.
Shifting instruction rooms and rethinking space requirements has helped pave the way for new programming and additional amenities. The club now offers hydromassages in a separate treatment room, and Tibetan bowl sound-bath meditation and cosmetic aesthetics are provided by a registered nurse. Yoga classes are held outdoors in the mild Palm Springs-area climate, on the property’s main lawn overlooking the mountains. More in-home services and high-tech wellness workshops and classes are also in the works.
Such enhancements have been vital to sustaining membership at The Vintage Club, says Cenicola. “As we don’t know what the future will bring, we do know that this opened up a window of opportunity to be creative, think outside the box and to be even more diligent in personal space and the health and well-being of ourselves and others around us,” he says.
Summing It Up
> Spa redesigns can incorporate facility upgrades of key safety elements such as air-filtration systems.
> A more generous footprint spaces out accommodations for various treatments and features, and creates more room for future in-person programming.
> Muted color palettes and the use of natural fabrics and furnishings help to evoke the proper peaceful vibe.