When it comes to the perfect spa environment, every spa strives to be different, and offer the perfect retreat for clients and staff alike.
But will that environment speak to your key demographic…the clients that will keep coming year after year for personalized, unique services? Every client was, at one time, a first-timer, and what was it about your spa that keeps her returning since that initial introduction to your spa?
It’s likely that the predominant “feel” of your environment brought her in, something about your spa spoke to her in a way that assured her that she would leave healthier, more relaxed than when she first walked through the door.
“Nature is one of the most relaxing environments known. Both water and the earth have the ability to nurture and promote tranquility,” says Rudy Gonzalez, Public Relations and Marketing Director at An Albert Luiz Salon & Spa in Sugar Land, Texas. “And earth and water are incorporated into our services as well as in the visual presentation of our two locations.”
Spa Utopia, with three locations in British Columbia, Canada, features an ambiance “reminiscent of Ancient Rome, with towering pillars, crumbling stone, and Greek statues,” says Sherri Abu-Ulba, Marketing Director at Spa Utopia. “The design began as a dream for our president, Awni Abu-Ulba, and he made it a reality.”
What does the overwhelming theme say to potential clients?
“Our spa says ‘we know what we’re doing,’” says Abu-Ulba. She continues, “I think that most people see the amount of thought and passion that was put into the design of Spa Utopia, and think, ‘if the treatments are anything like the environment, I want to experience it!” continues Abu-Ulba.
SpaHalekulani, Honolulu, recently named by Forbes.com as one of the “Hottest Hotel Spas,” worldwide, builds its environment on its natural environment, the beaches of Waikiki. Spa Director Gloria Williams-Ah Sam, says “Our décor and treatments are influenced by the traditional healing practices of Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and Asia.” The natural beauty of the area speaks to clients – mostly visitors to the Halekulani Hotel – who frequent the spa for its renowned massage, body and facial treatments, and hair and nail treatments.
Everything from uniformed staff members to the state of the front desk speaks to potential clients, giving them a feel of professionalism and a dedication to cleanliness, and with every part of the spa, you have the opportunity to reinforce those ideas.
“You can’t have a menu of wonderfully written services, without education and protocols. You can’t have a clean and sanitized spa that lacks atmosphere. You can’t have a stunning interior, but poor customer service,” says Abu-Ulba. A newcomer to the spa experience may feel less pampered, and more pressured, resulting in a less-than-relaxing treatment if the staff is less than professionally friendly. If a client feels afraid to ask questions about the treatments they receive, it’s possible she won’t return for another treatment, or will speak negatively about the experience.
“People notice different things, so you must pay attention to the details,” Abu-Ulba stressed. One of those details is cleanliness and a dedication to following the area’s prerequisites for cleaning and sterilizing equipment.
“I absolutely feel a spa’s cleanliness does attract new clients” says Williams Ah-Sam. Cleanliness, professional appearance, décor, and equipment are a few of the details that should be considered. Both Spa Utopia and SpaHalekulani benefit from nightly cleaning by professionals, and at Spa Utopia, a professional after-hours maintenance staff repairs or replaces parts as needed.
At SpaHalekulani, the hotel provides its cleaning staff throughout the day to ensure the ambiance isn’t interrupted by a lack of linens or overflowing trash cans. “Our spa receives a thorough nightly cleaning from our hotel housekeeping staff, and restroom clean-ups throughout the day,” says Williams Ah-Sam, and An Albert Luiz Salon & Spa employs a full-time housekeeper to keep things clean throughout the day.
But if a staff isn’t available to maintain a spa’s cleaning schedule, the small details must still be remembered throughout the day. Clients are becoming more and more knowledgeable about spa services, as well as any, although remote, hazards of visiting an unclean spa. It is the responsibility of spa staff to provide the most sterile yet inviting environment that will keep clients confident that each treatment is safe and healthy. It’s becoming common practice to allow clients to observe the cleaning habits of the staff when it comes to spa pedicure chairs. Allowing a client to voice concerns or questions before she puts her foot into a spa pedicure may put her mind at ease throughout the treatment. Thorough answering of questions will show that your staff and spa is concerned about her well-being and interested in keeping her health at the fore-front.
Spa Utopia reinforces cleanliness by allowing clients to see it throughout the spa, “We have tent cards on each treatment bed that states the bed has been sanitized…and placed on every bed when all the linens have been changed and the room has been cleaned.”
Further, every technician verbally reassures every client that the equipment has been cleaned and sanitized, and for manicures and pedicures, implements are sterilized in the dispensary as well. Prior to every treatment all the tools are sprayed with disinfectant in front of the guest. Every pedicure spa is routinely cleaned according to the area’s health or state boards as required.
Spas are also stepping up the cleanliness factor with updated equipment that has been shown to make cleaning and sterilizing easier. While spa manufacturers have evolved the equipment to make a pedicurists’ work less tedious, there are still responsibilities involved to maintain cleanliness, “We adhere to all industry sanitizing regulations, and have recently purchased pipe-free pedicure chairs,” says Williams Ah-Sam of SpaHalekulani.
While cleanliness is key, what will a squeaky massage table, stained linens or a non-functional pedicure spa say to clients? While a spa may have spent thousands on a beautiful environment, it’s the daily upkeep that will speak volumes to potential long-term clients. A plentiful supply of plush linens will maintain the idea of luxury for each client each time she slips into a posh robe, and routine maintenance can prevent downtime on equipment.
When equipment begins to age, or no longer fits in with the aesthetic of the spa, Williams Ah-Sam suggests spas research equipment manufacturers, and look for companies with a strong reputation within the industry. When updating or replacing equipment, Williams Ah-Sam suggests researching a number of different criteria, including costs, reliability, and feedback from others within the industry. She continues, “Make sure you research the company history and the relationship with the sales representative.”
Although it can be costly to update a spa, Abu-Ulba suggests keeping the overall theme timeless, and Gonzalez suggests minimalism may be the key to reaching out to new clients. “Keeping clean, uncluttered treatment rooms are essential for getting longevity out of the spa environment.”
Gonzalez continues, “It’s our commitment to grow and evolve for them that keeps our clients coming back, and our commitment to customer service helped us to establish ourselves in the community. In our community it’s the reputation that keeps them coming in.”
As public relations coordinator with European Touch, Lisa Olson is expanding a portfolio filled with writing for national publications and making and maintaining contacts throughout the industry. Educated and experienced in researching and writing industry-specific articles, Olson has become knowledgeable in subject matters and issues specific to the beauty industry. Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, European Touch is known as the leading manufacturer of pedicure spas, introducing the first spa pedicure chair to the market in 1985.