Resort and Recreation Magazine in a recent interview with SPAA Executive Director and Industry Expert, Melinda Minton

Resort and Recreation

R & R: What is happening in the realm of spa going that
most affects resorts and hotels in the current market?

Melinda Minton: More than ever the spa is positioned to be a
profit center and main attraction on destination properties. Smart companies
are realizing that the spa is a part of the recreation mix. As such a great spa
can be as attractive to a potential guest as access to beautiful scuba diving
or placement near a world class golf course.

R & R: What is your advice to a resort wishing to
increase repeat bookings of guests on the property?

Melinda Minton: The word on the street is that resort guests
have grown weary of paying higher prices for what is perceived to be mediocre treatments. The easiest way to keep spa addicts at the spa during their vacation is to give them an exquisite experience and then ask them to come
back. Actually pre-book their next visit and create a vision for the progress that they can make during their vacation. For example, if a guest will be at the property for a week a series of detoxifying and slimming body wraps mixed with hydrotherapy, pressotherapy and massage could have them slimmer and glowing before they leave for home. In fact, they could go home with a kit that  would allow them to maintain the professional results achieved at the spa. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?!

R & R: Why don’t resort spas sell retail like day spas do?

Melinda Minton: Yes, that is a real problem. In fact The Spa Association (SPAA) showed in their 2004
Industry Report that resorts sell less than 5% retail sales to service sales. Day spas must sell retail to make their businesses viable. They don’t have a choice. Very well run day spas can sell dollar for dollar retail to service
sales. That means for a $120 facial they typically sell $120 in retail. Resorts and hotels would sell a great deal more retail if they emphasized why homecare is so important and also set quotas for reasonable sales. At the end of the day spa technicians are professionals who prescribe topicals, nutritional supplements, routines and lifestyle behaviors. The client depends on this service in order to accomplish the beauty and wellness goals initiated at the

R & R: What is the one factor that keeps spas at resorts from being top performers?

Melinda Minton: It’s the myth of big and pretty. What I mean by that is many resorts have large, opulent,
beautifully designed and appointed spas. I liken them to the Taj Mahal. Have you been in the Taj Mahal?  I have and all of that marble gets cold on one’s feet after a while. Many spa directors feel that a beautiful space is half of the battle towards pleasing the spa-goer. Big and pretty is fine but savvy spa-goers want technical expertise
and the warmth of a team of humans who care about them.

R & R: What treatments are especially popular in a resort environment? It seems like hot stone massage
is one of the last new twists on a therapy.

Melinda Minton: Four handed massage (massage with two therapists working on one client in tandem) held a
lot of promise as a popular resort offering until spa-goers experienced two therapists talking with each other more than working together to provide a great spa treatment. Couples treatments have proven to be wildly popular as
have spas that welcome teens and tweens. The resort spa scene should be very family friendly if that is appropriate for the property.

R & R: What are common spa programming mistakes that you see over and over again?

Melinda Minton: Resort treatments have always been slightly more experiential and inspired by the
marketing department than the average day spa treatment. Because resorts see a client only for the extent of their stay, the pressure is on to make any visit to the spa one to remember as a highlight of the trip. As a result resorts
oftentimes offer indigenous therapies and age-old rituals as a part of their signature treatments. They also create hybrid treatments involving massage where the therapist is dangling from the ceiling, ongoing slathering, buffing and bathing, among other treatment creations. Entertaining the client is fine, but sometimes there is a real disconnect. If the therapist doesn’t understand the therapeutic origins of a treatment the client is bound
to also be confused.

The most successful resort menus combine classic treatments like a European facial, Swedish massage and
spa pedicure with signature treatments that are tightly wound into the theme of the overall facility. Offering fewer menu items that are executed with skill and precision is far preferable to attempting to offer something for everyone in a mediocre sort of way.

R & R: What is one way to improve the operations and management of a spa without investing a lot of time
and money?

Melinda Minton: Actively mystery shop your spa—hire trained professionals to receive treatments and then
offer a report on their experience. Find out what guests are talking about in steam rooms. Learn first hand what your therapists say in the seclusion of each treatment room. Find out what your spa feels like from the perspective of a facial bed or massage table. Some of the most powerful ahhah’s come from what is actually happening within the spa at any given moment. From dirty wet rooms to angry technicians the painful but fixable
facts are all there right under your nose.

R & R: What changes would you make in many of the properties that you visit?

Melinda Minton: Spas are powerful in their own right because they are emotional sponges that reflect the
essence of life. There is a certain vitality to spas that replenishes the energy that becomes depleted after living in a world that never seems to slow down.

Reflecting the mood of the spa throughout the property is a must do in many ways. Allowing the mood
enhancing lighting, music, smells and textures of the spa into each room and private residence is one obvious way to extend the spa to the resort. Offering spa cuisine in the restaurant, snack bar and as a part of in-room dining is
also a welcomed addition. Finally, welcoming guests into the spa as a given part of their retreat at the resort needs to a more individualized invitation that is anything but intimidating.  Allow your spa to act as a point of differentiation for your brand.


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