Inventive use of space reduces spa costs

This is the final part in a series on spa design in hotels. Click here for part two: How spa operations are being driven by design.

A range of factors has shifted how spas maximize the usage of their space, with cost being an ever-present consideration. “Spas are an expensive component to build out,” Anthony DiGuiseppe, president and CEO of DiGuiseppe Architects, said, estimating that $400 per square foot is not unusual when one considers all the plumbing, electric installations, acoustic elements and millwork that need to be included in a top-tier spa. “Those can’t be bought off the shelf,” he said. 

Treatment rooms must also have sufficient space for a therapist to walk around. “Because of that, and because of the cost, the idea of sharing space makes a lot more sense financially,” DiGuiseppe said. “Share corridor space, lounge space, areas with communal pools or waterfall therapies.” The massage rooms themselves are increasingly co-ed as well, he noted. 

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Alfredo Carvajal, president of wellness and technology company Delos, has also seen an increased focus on functionality. “For years, spas used to have 30, 40 treatment rooms,” he said. Today, he said, they tend to be smaller, but designers have found inventive ways to make the most of what space they have. For example, interior doors let several smaller treatment rooms become a suite for groups and eliminate the need for larger suites. Certain equipment has become portable so that many rooms can share machines. “The reduction of size means that service is more personalized, private and comfortable,” he said. 

Eliminating traditional areas and rethinking the process also can help, according to WTS President Gary Henkin.

“If things are tight, don’t be afraid to ditch the locker rooms and consider an en suite approach to treatment rooms,” he said. “Often times, this opens up the doors to new possibilities and upgrades for each treatment room that enable a small facility to enhance their wellness offerings. Water and heat amenities that are often associated with wellness can be reproduced as a ‘mini’ version for a treatment suite (steam shower, private sauna, mini rasul, etc.).”