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Monday, 01 February 2021 10:43

Sensational Senses: Incorporating the Five Senses into Spa Design

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First impressions can make or break a business relationship. Therefore, it is important that each client’s five senses are engaged in a positive manner upon entering the spa space.These senses are sight, scent, sound, touch, and taste.Utilizing what is known about the senses, skin care professionals can tailor an exceptional experience to each client and create a loyal client base.



There are many different avenues to consider when deciding on decorative elements within a space. Medical spas generally take a more clinical design approach to accompany a myriad of medical aesthetic procedures, such as crisp white linens and streamlined furniture accents. Another common theme in spa design encompasses a more zen-like atmosphere with softer earth tones and textures. Candles, rolled towels, and florals are also typically seen in this theme.

Additionally, destination spas attract clients by offering services in a unique setting. The entire experience is customized based on a particular theme from the names of signature services to the interior décor. People have always been drawn to places that offer something different and unique.Think about the ideal client that will be drawn to a particular spa aesthetic. There is likely an untapped resource of clientele that have never stepped foot into a spa before because they did not feel it was their style. Dare to be different but remember, no matter which theme is chosen, consistency must be maintained throughout the space to create a cohesive design. Each room should flow seamlessly into the next.Elements of a specific theme can also be included in the menu of services by creating specially titled spa packages.Consider stocking retail items that can also be incorporated with the theme. The great thing about designing a spa theme is that there is no limit to imagination.

Once a theme has been decided upon, social media pages should also reflect the aesthetic of the business. Potential clients spend a substantial amount of time searching on social media platforms for a spa that calls to them based on how visually appealing the spa is, among other factors.The color scheme that is represented within the spa environment should be reflected in the business logo, website, and social media posts. What the potential client sees online should be what they see when they enter the business. If the color scheme presented on social media is vastly different from the color palette within the interior design, it can become confusing for the client.Choosing three to four colors that are complementary to one another provides room for creativity while maintaining a cohesive appearance.

Incorporating the five senses into the spa design will help the client feel completely immersed in the experience from the moment they enter the door. So, how can one translate the five senses into a spa theme? Breaking down each one individually will give a better understanding of how to add different design aspects to create an overall feeling of wellness in the mind, body, and spirit.


What does the client see when they first enter the spa? When an individual first enters a room,their eyes instantly begin scanning from wall-to-wall to determine the type of atmosphere they are in and how they feel about that space. Is it clean? Are there any focal points the eyes are drawn to? Are there any pictures or wall features? Engaging clients visually is crucial to generating a positive first impression.Take into consideration how certain colors can make one feel when determining a color palette.Does the tone invoke a sense of calm or serenity? How does one go about choosing a color scheme? 

Choosing the right aesthetic aspects for a spa is largely dependent on the theme and style being portrayed. Ayurvedic service-based spas may incorporate warm, rich tones, and bold decorative elements such as copper accents. Spas that have a more calming style might consider a softer palette. Pastel blues and greens have been shown to have a soothing effect on the mind and can reduce feelings of anxiety. Adding in natural elements, such as plants and warm woods, can also soften the appearance of a room. Research suggests that plants are natural mood boosters, and certain plants can also purify the air making them a great choice for spa decor. The arrangement of furniture in the lobby and treatment rooms should provide ample space for the client to walk around comfortably.Avoid cluttering too many items together in the space, as this can be unsightly and create a sense of chaos and disorganization. This pertains to the retail area as well.For a first-time facial client, seeing shelves stocked with dozens of skincare products can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially for a client looking to begin a homecare routine. Products on the shelves should be arranged neatly to allow for easy shopping and arranging products in order of use can also be less intimidating for the client.

Determining the correct lighting for space can also set the tone of how a client will feel upon entering the spa. Popular fixtures seen in spa design are chandeliers, lamps, or pendant lights. A wide variety of lighting styles are available to suit many different themes. When possible, utilizing the natural light from windows can provide proper illumination of the space and all design features within. Consider using soft or even dimmable lighting sources in the treatment room to promote a sense of relaxation. There are many different energy-efficient lighting options available today, as well as bulb color choices, ranging from warm to cool tones to provide the most impactful lighting for space.


The second sense that is generally activated for the client is sent. The olfactory nerve carries sensory information to the brain based on a sense of smell.This is what ties certain scents to memories. As with many wellness modalities, focused and intentional breathing plays a major role in delivering oxygen to vital organs and reducing stress. A common phrase heard from clients is, “It smells so good in here.” Aromatherapy can assist in enhancing the well-being of each client as they enter the spa. Different aromas can also have a direct effect on mood. Lavender is a popular choice in the spa as it is associated with a sense of stress relief and relaxation. 

One way to add aromatherapy in the spa is the use of essential oils. Scented candles or wax melts may also be used but can become overwhelming when burned for prolonged periods of time.Essential oils can be diffused, added to massage mediums, or used to scent steamed facial towels. Placing an essential oil diffuser in common areas prepares a calming environment for the guest. Essential oils have continued to gain popularity for their potential health benefits, so retailing essential oils for clients to use at home is another way to increase spa revenue. Create a unique experience for the clients by providing the ingredients and let them take part in the process of blending their own aromatherapy rollerball or aroma mist. 


Studies have shown that sound therapy can heal, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Music and meditation have been incorporated in holistic healing therapies for many years using varying vibrations and frequencies.The use of different frequencies, such as singing bowls, in sound healing has even been shown to improve mental health and is commonly used in chakra alignment and reiki sessions.Playing soothing music can create a relaxing atmosphere and instills a feeling of calm and comfort. Inviting the client to participate in a moment of calm meditation prior to receiving service can better prepare their mind to get the most out of their time in the treatment room. Music streaming apps provide a wide variety of spa music tailored to suit any theme.Spas that include private meditation rooms can also consider providing noise-canceling headphones while the client relaxes to eliminate all outside sounds to inhibit deep relaxation.

Fountains are also commonly used in spas because the sound of water has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind. These can be added as a wall feature or a simple tabletop fountain. When thinking of a vacation or place where one can be at peace, most individuals typically think of the ocean or another body of water. The sound of water can be healing, reduce stress, and make the client feel more grounded and connected with nature.


Spa professionals are aware of the healing power of touch while performing services in the treatment room. So, how do they incorporate touch into the spa design? Textures can play a major role in the design of the space. Many spas incorporate natural elements, such as wooden or stone wall features in their design. Waiting area furniture should be comfortable for the client to relax in while awaiting their appointment.When it comes to spa linens, choosing sheets, blankets, and robes that are soft to the touch will leave an impression on the client. Heated pads on the treatment tables can relax muscle tension and provide a more pleasant experience during a spa treatment.Avoid materials that feel uncomfortable on the skin. During warmer months, offer clients a cool towel for their neck, hands, or feet as they enter the spa.Alternately, provide a warm towel during cooler months.

The retail area should be equipped with testers to allow clients to sample products such as scrubs, skincare, and lotions. The ability to try out a product and see how it feels on their skin first can often lead to an increase in retail sales as well. For instance, if a client wishes to sample a body moisturizer, offer to provide them with a relaxing hand massage while using the product they are interested in. This not only makes the client feel valued but also more likely to purchase the product.


Offering clients an enhanced refreshment, such as an herbal tea or spa water can also be an integral part of a spa theme.This is where creativity can really come into play.Create a signature tea blend or spa water recipe.This can also be a great conversation starter to discuss the benefits of hydration. Consider placing recipe cards at the beverage station,so that clients can recreate the flavor at home. Adding a mint or chocolate on the treatment table as a little treat for the client seems like a small gesture but can leave a positive impact on their expectationsand the caliber of service they will receive.Many spas also offer a complimentary glass of wine or champagne with a service. Always be sure to check alcohol laws and the in the client’s age area before serving any alcoholic beverages to a client.

By incorporating these five senses into a spa theme, skin care professionals can achieve a better understanding of how specific design elements can impact a client’s perception. When brought together, a sixth sense is awakened.How a client feels while visiting a spa is determined by how each individual sense is entranced by the surrounding elements. There are endless possibilities when deciding on the overall aesthetic of a spa atmosphere – be creative.Do something that has not been done before but always maintain consistency, not just within the spa, but across all platforms. Maintain authenticity and superior customer service offered to each client.Designing a space that clients will want to continue to visit is a key factor. It is important to remember that creating a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing but that also offers clients an unforgettable experience is vital to the success of any spa.




Wendy Piedad


Wendy Piedad is the owner of Wand & Willow Day Spa in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She began her career in spa management in 2006 and became a licensed massage therapist and aesthetician in 2014. Her training embodies a more holistic approach, as she works to address the mind, body, and spirit in her treatment room. In addition to her other certifications, she is also attuned to Reiki Level 1 and is currently enrolled in a RYT 200-hour course. Her business philosophy is to create a unique, magical experience and to help clients see the magic within themselves. 

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