The evolution of the hotel spa arrival experience

Adapting hotel public areas to become social areas for guests has never been more important. Lobbies, lounges, restaurants and workstations all are seeing design changes that focus on increasing social interactions between guests and staff. Designers are bringing this trend into the spa by improving the arrival experience for guests through design and interaction.

According to Alfredo Carvajal, COO for WTS International, spa arrival experiences now are more open, social and inviting.

The spa's retail space is an easy spot to transform, he said. Designers are using entryways and open displays to encourage guests to visit the retail spaces of the spa and make them feel welcome.

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“In the past, many guests felt they couldn’t go shopping in the spa without purchasing a treatment, but we don’t want them to feel that is the case,” Carvajal said.

Carvajal also said spa arrival can be improved in the planning stages of new-build properties by placing the spa in a location with natural light.

“If your spa is underground, next to your garage or in other unimpressive areas, guests will feel intimidated,” he said. “The arrival can be calming, but it doesn’t have to be so quiet, dark or secluded.”

For Agnes Ng, associate for the Singapore office of Hirsch Bedner Associates, the entrance experience is everything.

“If your guest is coming in from a large urban hotel, it can often feel like a mall,” Ng said. “Because of that, you want to set the mood at the outset, even in the corridors.”

Ng recommends using natural, organic materials such as wood, stone and candles to darken a location gradually without creating a stark contrast. Touches such as leaf pattern carvings on walls and watermarked carpets can create intimacy while blending into the surroundings.

Ng also suggests natural lighting, but is hesitant to use it in some urban settings.

“Natural lighting for resorts is ideal because it comes naturally thanks to the beauty found outside,” Ng said. “Because you want them to feel like they are not in a city, as a designer you have to dream a little.”

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