Spa professionals have a duty to provide atmospheric transportation to those clients who walk through the spa doors looking for respite into another world – one that is welcoming, calming, and rejuvenating. These people enter entrusting the spa professionals with their physical and mental well-being for the scheduled time they visit a spa. It is important to remember, in this day and time, where there is practically a spa on every corner, that the client has a multitude of choices as to where they will spend their hard-earned money. Spa owners wanting those patrons to choose their retreat location need to ensure that clients are offered a relaxing haven of luxurious experiences where each person entering feels like royalty during their visit. Additionally, these royal visitors should walk away with joyful memories of a spa day they will never forget because it changed their lives for the better. This article will share some unique ideas to help aspiring spa owners create amazing designs that stand out and set them apart from the crowd, even in the eyes of the most avid spa junkie.
SPA DESIGN BASICS
Although there are many aspects of creating a perfect beauty business, when it comes to the plan being spa specific, there are several points that must have special attention brought to them during the design phase. How the floor plan will come together is crucial to traffic flow in the spa, and this portion of the design is called the layout. From the moment the client pulls into the parking lot and proceeds to walk towards the door to the reception area, they need to feel a sense of calm and belonging. Many businesses do not step out before expecting people to step in. The first place to start when beginning a spa design is the exterior. Proper signage that alerts would-be patrons to the spa’s existence is at the top of the list. Next, look around the parking lot; do the spaces provide enough room and does the path to the door offer a welcoming feeling? If the answer is no, then this may be the time to consider paying a visit to the local nursery to pick up some beautiful blooming plants to line the entrance. First impressions only happen once.
Offering a hydration station is another great way to make a stellar first impression to clients who may be coming in after a long day at work or a difficult drive over. Using therapeutic-grade essential oils with cheerful, yet calming, fragrances, such as a wild orange and lavender mix, in a diffuser to heighten the senses can elevate the spa experience. A good description of how a reception area should feel to the client is like an inviting living room – it is comfortable, clean, bright, and welcoming.
Since the spa is in the business of selling beauty, it is a good idea to choose the art for this area, as well as the other rooms, accordingly. Designers should be on a mission to acquire artwork that shows beautiful faces and relaxing spa scenes. This is not to say that if the owner is a collector of Blue Dog paintings that these cannot be displayed. However, the reception area should be considered a place where the sale begins by setting the mood and, although the previously mentioned famous art is nice, it would really be of no help to a client as they try to wind down and concentrate on making important decisions, such as what rejuvenation package to purchase. It is an important factor that the spa surroundings are focused on the beauty industry and the individual theme of the spa, rather than an out of place painting or a corporate poster stating positive affirmations. As clients progress through their appointment, each room entered along the journey should elicit more of the same warm, feel good sensations, which would certainly be an indicator that the floor plan layout flows properly; and, adding the right design aspect, such as lovely artwork, could be just the element needed to ensure this happens.
EVERY DETAIL MATTERS
In the not so distant past, consultation rooms were often outfitted like a corporate office – desk, computer, and chair on the opposite side – putting out the statement, “We are ready to do business.” That is certainly an old world setup, because people do not want to go to a spa to be sold a bill of goods, but rather they want to be catered to, as it is now mainstream for just about everyone to participate in self-care regularly, since these services are no longer just for the wealthy. In today’s modern spa society, the consultation room should be open, with comfortable seating for a personal conversation, where the client is given the opportunity to list out their beauty desires as the treatment coordinator listens attentively, while making notes on a touch screen handheld pad. The furniture, colors, and textures in this room should be softer, and on the neutral side, helping the client begin their journey down relaxation road, eventually ending up in the comfortable and soothing treatment room for their scheduled service. An important factor for the consultation area that should remain high on the list of must-haves is the photo station. This special place is where great before and after pictures can be taken, which happens to be one of the most important components of selling aesthetic services.
Once the consultation is complete, the next stop along the way could be a relaxation station, or lounging area, where clients change clothes, store their personal items, and wait to be taken back for their scheduled service. This calming area is another way a spa can set the stage for the beautiful production to come by using dim lighting, a soothing water feature, and soft music that leads clients into a state of relaxation. It is common for people today to want their cell phones attached to their bodies. However, the relaxation station should most certainly be a cell phone-free zone. The negative energy from phones buzzing, ringing, vibrating, flashing, and whatever other tasks smart phones can accomplish have no place in a spa where relaxation is the goal. This could be easier said than done, as there is a real problem that exists called separation anxiety from a phone – it is a real thing, so do not underestimate the lengths one might go to for a Facebook or Instagram fix, no matter the spa policy. Stand firm spa owners, no electronics allowed, as it does truly bother those who came looking for a brief retreat from the outside world.
LESS IS MORE
Now that the phones are gone and clients have started to drift down relaxation lane in the lounging area, being transported to another place and time through the serene music, delightful essential oil scents, and the dim mood lighting, it is time they are escorted by their therapist to a treatment room for their selected service. These special areas should be decorated in the spirit of less is more, being clutter-free and only holding the necessary supplies for the treatment and not much else. Maybe a plant to add a touch of nature, some simple hooks for clothing items, and a flameless candle for ambiance can be added. Here in the treatment room is where the true magic happens and plenty of space is needed for the immense amount of positive energy to be exchanged between the client and beauty professional. Color theory is an important factor all over the spa, but especially in here. A soft blue or other pastel hue will serve to bring a sense of calm to the experience. Some spas have a main music system that pipes the same music into each area, whereas, others may provide individual controls, so that the music might be matched to the type of service.
Using minimalistic principles here can be good, but it is important to realize that the supplies do need to be stocked in such a manner that the provider never has to get up leaving the client feeling abandoned. A great way to ensure the skin care professional has everything they need is for the designer to sit in the planned space with everything in place and reach around to discover if there are any changes that need to take place before the first client is served. Another good rule of thumb is to experience the views in each room from the client’s perspective to see what they see, such as lying on the treatment bed and looking around. As silly as some may think this seems, it truly could be one of the most enlightening experiences a spa owner could have. Who knew there were cobwebs in the vent above the facial bed? Avoid this issue by performing this task prior to the grand opening and, then, approximately every three to six months after the fact.
THE BEAUTY BAR IS NOW OPEN
Some spas offer separate makeup stations and retail areas that provide opportunities for clients to receive makeovers or try samples of various retail products offered. Whether it is a stand-alone makeup station or a multi-purpose area where makeup and retail share square footage, it needs to be bright, with an open concept, so that there is ample room to move about. Greenery should be considered in this area, as clients are basically being transported back to reality here, with the brightness turned up a notch, so that they can clearly see their makeup applications or hands-on product displays. Flowers might be a nice touch here, as they work to liven up the area and create a sense of happiness.
Mirrors are another important consideration for both the makeup station and the retail area, as they provide clientele with immediate feedback through the looking glass. Special lighting should be added in this location to help soften facial features. This is also an area where proper ventilation and temperature control is important to ensure products are not affected adversely. One great idea to entice clients into purchasing retail products is to create a mix and match beauty bar where different products are placed in appealing containers. A clever marketing display showing discount pricing for bulk purchase should be placed next to fun shopping bags boasting catch phrases, such as “hello gorgeous,” which encourage the clients to get excited about filling them up. The colors used for this rejuvenation station should be fun and bright in an effort to draw the eye in the direction of the beauty bar. Bring sparkle to the beauty bar by hanging a spectacular chandelier in the room. Although area rugs should never be used in treatment rooms due to sanitation regulations, here in the retail space, area rugs or patterned flooring designs could be used to direct the traffic flow towards the retail station and add to the ambiance.
ALL GREAT THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
The flow of the entire visit is important, but the way the appointment ends, and the connection remembered after the fact, may serve to be the most vital of all when it comes to repeat business and creating a loyal following. Maybe this is because it is the last interaction and, therefore, the one that stays most vivid in the mind, or it might be because the follow up call or e-mail may be the only one that they have ever received from a spa. Place a love note box by the exit where clients can leave thank you sentiments for service providers if they want to. Also, have a connection card interactive display for clients to provide their valued opinions about their spa experience and what they would like to add to their wish list of services for future visits. Many businesses do nothing regarding follow up, others only send automated e-mails asking for a review, but the type of follow up mentioned here is one which creates a very personal connection specific to the client’s individual appointment, as well as to their future needs which they personally notated. This is crucial because it will make them feel heard and cared for personally, and elicit a response on their part, which continues to build a relationship between them and the spa. Honestly, relationships are the most important thing to humans, whether it is with a loved one, a pet, a co-worker, or a spa, and everyone seeks them out. Understanding this is how the big marketing giants create brand superstar power for their clients. Spa owners can use this knowledge to their advantage to gain loyal clients and create a waiting list of sanctuary seekers looking to find their euphoria through fabulous spa treatments offered in a spa eutopia.
How can one accomplish the mountain of tasks mentioned above? Well, it is simple in today’s cloud-based highway system of internet hot spots. There is certainly an advantage to be gained by using spa specific software, free social media platforms, and website designs to impress everyone who visits. Of course, each of these interfaces must be in line with the calming spa ambience and professional demeanor and must be user-friendly for the client in order to make a huge impact. The ultimate goal when planning any sanctuary-type design would be that the client is ushered through their in-person spa time with ease and comfort, creating an unforgettable, relaxing, experiential day. In order to accomplish this, the spa design needs to be well thought out, in compliance with all regulatory agencies, and unique, so that it makes a major impression in the minds of all who visit. Spectacular spa looks definitely fill spa books.
Alissa de Jongh, ND, founder of Glace’ Skin Therapy and professor of facial aesthetics at Houston Community College, is a board-certified naturopathic doctor who was recognized by the American Naturopathic Medical Association with the 2018 Higher Achievement Award. In 2014, she joined Houston Community College as a professor of facial aesthetics in the consumer arts and sciences department teaching and preparing student aestheticians for careers in the medical and luxury spa industry. Dr. de Jongh, along with her husband Dr. David de Jongh, DDS, has a private practice integrative wellness and dental spa concept in Houston, Texas. drdejongh.com