Why spas are a good investment in Europe


Alcide Leali joined Lefay Resorts in 2008 as the Italian company's marketing director. Today, as managing director, he oversees the company expansion strategy, focused on the opening of the second property, Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti, and the launch of the first serviced branded residences of the group.

At the upcoming Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum in October, Leali will take part in a panel focused on integrating wellness within a resort. Leali and the other speakers will discuss how hoteliers can develop a wellness concept that generates ROI, determine the right amenities (Spa? Fitness? Sports? Thalassotherapy?) and effectively manage their wellness offerings. 

Ahead of the Forum, Leali shared his insights on how to manage a wellness-focused hotel or resort, the value of wellness and why it is a worthwhile investment for hoteliers. 

1. How would you define wellness for a resort and why is it a good business opportunity? 

The challenges people face in their daily life are driving them to explore new wellness-related products and services as they realize a need to take care of themselves: despite pollution, bad dietary habits and less time to exercise, today’s consumers experience mounting pressures; tough schedules; lack of true leisure time; constant availability with the office, family, and friends by email, mobile phone or digital devices. As a response, a step back is needed. Guests reassess how they live their lives, and look for other types of fulfillment.

2. What are your relations with your investors, and how well do they understand how wellness considerations can increase the value of the property? 

Lefay Resorts aims at creating profit by increasing the social and environmental value generated by the transparent activities performed in relation to the outside. Our mission is to offer a unique holistic wellness experience, generating opportunities for local communities and third involved parties. 

Speaking of wellness as added value, Lefay SPA Method is an innovative and unreleased wellness method philosophy born form the studies carried out by a pool of medical experts in various holistic disciplines which grew over time thanks to a well-established wellness hospitality experience and a highly skilled internally trained Staff: this is something which cannot be easily replaced, as opposed to beautiful luxury properties in beautiful locations (there are plenty of them worldwide). 

3. What are the main operational considerations when running a wellness-focused resort?

Alcide Leali
Alcide Leali of Lefay Resorts. 
Photo credit: Lefay Resorts

In addition to [paying] attention to detail in each department, which is intrinsic to a five-luxury star resort, our main wellness oriented operational focuses can be summarized as follows:

Sustainable Practices. A property integrated with the landscape combined with the use of advanced technologies reducing energy consumption is our formula to combine luxury and all the amenities and services with the utmost respect or the environment. This is made possible by an efficient use of energy and the intelligent use of clean, renewable energy sources. Maximum reduction in environmental impact is given by a real on-site power plant.

Uniqueness of Spa Facilities. According to the company's product guidelines, the spa area of each resort must be bigger in comparison with sizes adopted in the average hotel standards. Moreover, consistently with the principle of holistic wellbeing, whereas at other resorts the wellness area is hidden in a cellar, Lefay Spa is clearly the heart of the property: located at the center of the building, not only is it easily and directly reachable from all other zones, but also facilitates guests to always pass through the reception, where all in-depth material is clearly exposed and a specialized Staff is always available. 

Spa Staff Training. The Lefay Spa team is very large given the resort size (42 members for 93 guestrooms) and receives an intensive training Program, with an introductory course to fully embrace the expected operational standards and then specific training courses involving the SPA Manager, the Lefay SPA training supervisors and external consultants. Each level includes both theory and practical courses, according to the role. At the end of each course, each member undergoes an examination and receives a degree and a final certificate. 

Healthy Cuisine. Lefay Vital Gourmet uses fresh ingredients like extra virgin olive oil (Lefay has its own organic production), citrus fruits from the lake and locally grown herbs. Concerning purchasing policy, preference is given to companies that operate according to the standards envisaged by international environmental and quality certification systems preference is given to local suppliers, especially those who adopt organic farming methods.

4) What are you most looking forward to at MR&H this year?

I am looking forward to meeting wellness experts, entrepreneurs and visionaries of the Mediterranean area to share the present situation of the industry and shape its future. My expectations are focused on participating to a forum for dialogue among the industry leaders and fostering relationships in a spirit of collaboration, facilitating the growth of the wellness branch and supporting its progress.