Facilities that incorporate their natural surroundings into services and décor can create a unique sense of place.
Spa design is going through a major makeover. No longer content to be places that offer a quick massage or blow-out, these facilities are taking advantage of their respective environments by incorporating elements of their surroundings into décor, treatments and even food-and-beverage offerings. The result is a spa experience that embodies the locale’s natural atmosphere—and leaves lasting memories of time well spent.
At the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the majestic James River plays a part in creating an inviting atmosphere for spa goers.
|SUMMING IT UP• Color palettes reflecting the outdoors can be carried over into indoor furnishings and décor.
• Spa menus that feature healthy ingredients can be coordinated with treatments and fitness offerings.
• Carrying organic and natural products extends the spa experience once guests return home.
“Spa patrons relax before and after services in our lounges overlooking this panoramic waterway with its mesmerizing view and natural lighting,” explains Spa Manager Shari McGhee.
The spa, which opened in November 2014, is outfitted with photographs of river rocks, water scenes and indigenous plants. A color palette of warm brown, with tones of blue and turquoise, is used in spa décor, furniture, carpeting and paint, fusing the Virginia outdoors with indoor space.
Inside seven treatment rooms, subdued lighting enhances the tranquil mood, along with a lavender scent that permeates the spa. “Our intent is to create a memorable experience within a very special space,” says McGhee. “We chose our furniture with comfort in mind and fill the spa with gentle music to complete the experience.”
In sharp contrast, the spa’s full-service nail and hair salon evokes a more playful, energetic tone. Accent walls are adorned with patterned wallpaper—featuring Swarovski crystals—while brightly colored artwork, accent mirrors and contemporary lighting complete the look and feel.
While McGhee describes these salons as “distinctively different” from the rest of the spa, she considers them an integral part of the resort’s environment.
“They remain true to the spirit of the spa by offering organic nail and hair services and shampoo stations that are designed with the comfort and safety of guests and staff in mind,” she adds.
To enhance the spa’s mission of nature-inspired relaxation, weekly guided meditation sessions create a stress-free atmosphere, as does Energy Reiki, a healing technique that stimulates natural energy. Organic products in the hair and nail salons include Eminence skincare for facials, which are also available for purchase.
Further appealing to the requests of its customers, the Spa at Kingsmill also offers express services for spa goers with limited time.
“We are always looking for healthy alternatives to the way we do business,” notes McGhee.
Bringing the Outdoors In
At the Sun Valley Spa in Sun Valley, Idaho, the lush beauty of the Wood River valley can be experienced indoors, as well as out. The brand new spa, which opened in June, features tiger-grained, natural wood throughout, including the hallways and locker rooms, which are enhanced by hand-tiled granite and stone sourced from all over the world.
Mirroring the outdoors, the spa’s nature-inspired setting is also embodied in its services. “Our signature treatments offer guests a variety of luxurious ways to unwind, relax and rejuvenate amid stunning views of the surrounding mountains,” says Tiffany Cameron, Spa Director. The spa’s most popular service, the White Cloud massage, includes an essential oil component that lets guests indulge in an experience of their choosing, from meditating to re-booting.
To further enhance its natural services, the spa features a menu of organic products, which Cameron describes as “sharing in [our] dedication to health, wellness and Mother Nature. As time progresses, adding a food-and-beverage component will be considered,” she says.
Tapping into current spa industry trends, the Sun Valley facility is considering adding products that incorporate the energy of plants and essential oils from the forest.
“We want to ‘bring the outside in’ to our guests,” says Cameron. “Not only do they soak up nature outside here in Sun Valley, but we are ensuring they are taking in that natural energy in the Sun Valley Spa as well.”
Demonstrating the property’s commitment to making this a universal goal, the Sun Valley Spa also offers “blue-collar wellness” for its employees, offering a discounted massage rate so they, too, can be pampered.
At the Hillside Country Club’s Cristallo Spa and Salon, the wooded backdrop of the Rehoboth, Mass., club sets the tone for calmness and serenity.
|What’s Trending in Spa DesignAs clubs and resorts prepare for spa renovations or complete overhauls, they might consider incorporating current design trends into their plans. Here’s a summation of the 2015 Top Ten Global Spa+Wellness Trends Forecast from Spafinder Wellness 365, and how some spas are addressing them:
1. Forest Bathing. The Sun Valley Spa is exploring products that incorporate plant energy and essential oils from the forest.
2. Cannabis. Some properties are integrating cannabis into spa classes and services, including yoga and facials.
3. Wellness Traditions from the Islamic World. Incorporating Middle Eastern superfoods and medical plants/spices into spa menus is seeing growth.
4. Industrial Revolution. “Blue-Collar Wellness”: The Sun Valley Spa offers discounted rates on massages for employees.
5. Wellness Homes, Communities & Cities. More locations are being designed with healthy living in mind.
6. My Fitness. My Tribe. My Life. Community and social environments are impacting fitness class offerings.
7. Spa On Arrival and En Route. The Kingsmill Resort has incorporated express services for spa goers who have limited time.
8. Hyper-Personalized Beauty. Spas are tailoring their product selection with customized offerings, both available in treatments and for purchase at retail.
9. Probiotics. Healthy digestive systems are the focus of spa wellness programs that educate guests about how to make smart eating choices.
10. Beyond the Stars. The PURE Spa at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort prides itself on “thinking outside the box” and “continually reaching for excellence,” according to Spa Director George Powell-Lopez.
“The spa was designed to have a natural, soothing environment,” describes Spa Manager Teresa Ferreira. “Overlooking the fairways, the whole location promotes nature and tranquility.”
The low-key ambiance of the spa is immediately evident upon entering. Hardwood flooring throughout is tempered by chocolate-brown carpeting in the seven treatment rooms. The color palette changes in the salon, where silver and black tones take precedence. One main wall boasts black wallpaper, accented with silver circles, while the remaining walls are grey.
Soft lighting throughout the spa contributes to the ambience. “All areas in the spa have dimming lights, which we change throughout the day to set a relaxing mood,” explains Ferreira. The nail room, front-desk area and hair salon are outfitted with chandeliers that feature dimmers as well.
Because golf makes up much of Hillside CC’s activity, the spa considers this in its services. “We offer great product lines that incorporate skin protection, which is especially important, being on a golf course with guests being exposed to the sun,” she says. “We try to incorporate that into our treatments and skin care lines.”
Brands like SkinCeuticals, Organic Male and Farmhouse Fresh appeal to customers’ increased interest in organic products. Treatments include seasonal offerings, such as this summer’s Watermelon Vodkatini Pedicure.
Moving forward, Hillside CC’s spa plans to make use of its customer survey findings by incorporating them into future offerings.
“This survey helps us to know exactly what the guest is looking for, or what we can improve on to make our spa the best for our guests,” says Ferreira. “This is very important to us.”
At the PURE Spa inside the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., water plays a key role in the design. “The entire concept was specifically geared at introducing a Scandinavian sense of luxury and infusing it into the sun, fun and beauty of the Atlantic Ocean,” says Spa Director George Powell-Lopez. “At almost every point in the spa experience, guests will see the ocean.”
To highlight this fluid design choice, natural woods, white and pops of color create a unique atmosphere. Turquoise, lime green and fuchsia are not only present in the resort’s Jelly Bean glassware from Sweden, but are part of the staff’s uniforms, towels and pillows on the white lounge chairs outdoors.
Treatment rooms are designed to be multipurpose, a benefit that distinguishes the PURE Spa from other facilities.
“Some spas have different approaches, with each room being very specific,” notes Powell-Lopez. “But we can do most any treatment in every room, excluding a manicure/pedicure.” As a nod to the spa’s mission to serve its customers in all aspects of health and wellness, several team members have licenses in multiple procedures, including massage, aesthetics, waxing, body wraps, and full cosmetology.
When guests aren’t in the midst of a treatment, they can take advantage of the spa’s health-conscious menu, which includes Ancient Grain Salad with grilled chicken breast, avocado and tomato vinaigrette, and lean hanger steak with oriental kale, green chickpeas and pickled onions. Beverages are also concocted with wellness in mind, incorporating 10 Cane rum and Organic Purity vodka.
Spa goers seeking further relaxation may sign up for weekly yoga sessions that can be booked in advance or speak to a spa representative about possible offerings. In fact, Powell-Lopez encourages his staff to find out exactly what guests are after, to make their spa experience one they’ll want to repeat.
“You would be surprised at how easy it is to meet the needs of the guest and exceed them by programming your team to be insightful and inquisitive about the guest’s needs,” he notes.