Spa upgrades promote hotels’ wellness philosophy

The value of wellness-focused design has already been well established in numerous studies. At the company’s brand conference earlier this year, Danica Boyd, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ senior director of operations for full-service brands, said that wellness-focused travelers tend to spend 130 percent more on hotel amenities than other guests. “Wellness tourism is expected to grow 9 percent over last year, and that’s 50 percent faster than regular tourism,” she said. “Guests no longer want the spa, pool, fitness center and healthy food. They want a healthy room with the comforts they’re used to at home.” And for that, she added, guests are willing to pay a premium.

New Spa Designs

Updating spas can go a long way toward keeping guests coming back, especially with increased competition from both business-focused hotels and dedicated resorts.


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“Superficial spas no longer appeal, no matter how good the interior or space is,” said Connie Paur, a partner at design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates. A spa used to be an add-on amenity in a hotel, but hoteliers are increasingly aware that if they want return clients, they need to brand their spas with “a philosophy, a storyline, a concept and a core value.” This mindset, she said, helps tie the space’s interior design to the overall concept. “With the onslaught of sharing of visuals on the internet, flashy design can easily grow out of fashion, and operators are now starting to realize they need a deeper value and a more holistic approach focusing on the experience to hold out in this competitive market,” Paur said.

“Spas are taking a more long-term approach to their treatments than before and investing more time in to the holistic experience for mind, body and soul, rather than just a one-off treatment of the past,” said Paur. “We have already seen biophiliac experiences become more apparent in architecture and design, so spas and their responsive designs are there to follow.”

Jannita Mossel, founder of Netherlands-based Spatree, agreed. “Spa goers are placing more value on the aspect of health and wellbeing than in the past,” she said. “Modern lifestyles are about downsizing, back to the roots, simplifying lives, reconnecting with nature and with people around.” The wellness market, she added, is changing in that direction as well. Spatree creates dedicated lounges that bring the spa experience outdoors, but keeps them connected to the grid in order to provide electricity for fans or heating stones—or to sanitize equipment in between treatments.