24 Jun 2019 Spa Business: uniting the world of wellness
 
 
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Spa Business
2014 issue 1

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Spa Business - Spa inclusive

Business analysis

Spa inclusive


Does offering a daily spa treatment as part of a hotel’s standard room rate make good business sense? We ask three operators about their experiences

Neena Dhillon

Fusion Maia Da Nang, Vietnam

‘Why didn’t anyone think about it before…?’ is the witty tag line for a resort that’s differentiating itself in the fiercely competitive Asian market by wrapping up spa treatments into its room rates. Guests of Fusion Maia Da Nang in Vietnam (see SB13/3 p54) aren’t required to book a spa package or elevated rack rate to receive complimentary treatments. Instead every guest qualifies for two daily treatments. Ironically, one of the biggest challenges for Fusion Maia Da Nang, which describes itself as ‘Asia’s first all spa inclusive resort’, has been persuading people that its offer is genuine, as general manager Michelle Ford explains: “At the beginning, we had to convince the industry there was no catch. The product had to be experienced first hand by journalists, travel agents and sales representatives to help spread word of mouth.”

Since the ‘spa inclusive’ concept has been factored into the 87-villa resort from its launch in 2010, there is a sizeable treatment facility on-site including 16 double treatment rooms, two beauty salons with 12 stations each, steamrooms, saunas, whirlpools, yoga studio, retail boutique and library. A permanent team of 80 therapists man the spa, open daily between 10am and 10pm (although it opens two hours earlier during peak periods). Guests can choose any treatment, regardless of length (typically 30 to 50 minutes), or any Natural Living wellbeing activity such as yoga, meditation or fitness. Once they’ve completed their two guaranteed treatments, they can request additional complimentary therapies on the day, subject to availability. Functioning at maximum capacity, the spa delivers up to 45 treatments per hour.

So, how is this all achieved?
Ford explains that they started by offering a small menu of popular treatments. This allowed time for the large team to be fully trained during the launch phase. The range of signature treatments has grown in tandem with the development of senior and master therapists and specialist consultants over the past three years. New options such as a bamboo (lymphatic drainage) massage, marble stone trigger point therapy and rose crystal chakra treatment are being added to the existing list of 20-plus massage, bodycare, beauty and holistic treatments.

With the recent introduction of a resident doctor specialising in naturopathy, Fusion Maia Da Nang will also offer advanced alternative therapies such as acupuncture that come with a fee attached.

Elsewhere the team doesn’t push retail products because selling is not part of the destination’s philosophy. Indeed the spa-inclusive concept, in combination with activities such as yoga and meditation, brings a distinctive atmosphere of overall wellbeing to the resort, according to Ford. This has contributed to a steady increase in occupancy, with over 70 per cent reached in the third year of operation.

Treatment costs have been taken into consideration from the outset when it comes to setting room rates. Specifically, the resort’s founders have accounted for the costs – namely electricity, oils and therapist time – of four treatments per room, per day. Yet Ford points out that Fusion Maia still offers great value – US$429 (€314, £258) a night – compared to other pool villa resorts in Vietnam and Thailand, including direct competitors. Early calculations based on resort occupancy also mean that the spa team is prepared operationally, as Ford confirms: “Our spa capacity was built on the basis of a 100 per cent capture rate so we have the facilities and staff to deal with demand. We don’t need to make adjustments for peak periods or differing capture rates.”

Consistency of demand – the spa has achieved the predicted near-100 per cent capture rate – has meant that staff scheduling is fairly straightforward. While there were early challenges in training a sufficient number of therapists with the required skill sets, the 80-strong team now includes a contingent of 10 therapists who cover annual leave, maternity cover and compensation days. Ford adds that specialist trainers also “show therapists how to restore and balance their own energy as part of our staff wellness programme.”

Another obstacle that quickly had to be overcome was the development of a software system capable of booking a complex variety and high volume of treatments. “ESP Online has customised elements and introduced additional features to its software system in response to the needs of our operation,” Ford explains. “We use colour to highlight different guest profiles, such as first timers who need a consultation; we’ve found ways of inputting bookings into the system faster; reports are adjusted to highlight the arrival times of guests into the resort; and we run from reservation screens only because we don’t have a billing component.”

At Fusion Maia, the spa inclusive concept is an integral part of the brand’s DNA. It’s been responsible for generating a crucial marketing buzz, which helps to drive up demand and occupancy, in turn covering the costs of the spa operation.

 



The spa has 80 therapists and can deliver up to 45 treatments an hour
 


Although the cost of treatments has been added to the room rate, Fusion Maia’s prices are still competitive and the inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
 


Fusion Maia’s prices are still competitive and the inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
 


Fusion Maia’s inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali

Another Asian resort that’s adopted an inclusive approach, since its 2007 opening, is Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali. Here a daily 50-minute treatment is included in the basic room rate and guests are free to choose from the full menu of locally-inspired natural therapies, body wraps, massages and skincare options. “Spa is part of the holistic philosophy of our intimate resort, which has been conceived to be fully inclusive with a focus on promoting wellbeing,” explains spa manager Yuyun Cindarsih. “It was only natural to include a treatment.” The offer is unique to Bali, with none of the resort’s sister Spa Villages – all owned by YTL Hotels – offering a treatment as part of their basic daily rates.

“The inclusion has improved the overall satisfaction of our guests. We’ve been able to measure this by the level of positive customer feedback we receive when compared to our range of properties. It’s also shown in our average occupancy, which reached 80 per cent in 2013.”

Guests at the resort are given the flexibility to combine their complimentary daily treatments for a longer therapy time, or extend, upgrade and add treatments on the day at a charge (full prices apply after 50 minutes). About 70 per cent of customers are enticed to pay for another treatment as a result of the policy. Only three to four people per year choose not to take up their free treatment and Cindarsih confirms that the spa generates revenue from up-selling and retail.

The spa has ample capacity for the resort’s 31 guests rooms. Comprising seven treatment rooms staffed by six therapists and a spa manager between 9am and 9pm, it handles a maximum of 42 treatments per day, with this limit reached approximately four to five days of the week. At peak periods, part-time therapists are brought in to assist the team, avoiding staff burnout.

Careful thought has been given to covering costs. Cindarsih outlines: “Therapist time, electricity, products, natural ingredients, prepping welcome and post-treatment rituals, laundry and set-up items such as candles and flowers. This is the breakdown of individual costs for each treatment, which have been incorporated into our room rate. Costs, which have been factored into our business model from the outset, are generally low so we still have a reasonably competitive rate of US$350-plus (€256, £211) per night, full board. We also contain costs by using local ingredients and growing herbs and roots ourselves.”

 



The spa has seven treatment rooms, is open 12 hours a day and can easily accommodate guests at the boutique 31-key resort
 


About 70 per cent of guests are enticed to pay for another treatment as a result of the flexible, spa-inclusive policy
 
 


The spa delivers a maximum of 42 treatments a day.
 
 


Part-time staff are brought in for peak periods
 
The BodyHoliday, St Lucia

As therapists’ wages and product prices fluctuate around the world, this can have a bearing on the feasibility of an inclusive approach. Set in the Caribbean, The BodyHoliday in St Lucia has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. When the family business was founded, no comparable destinations were offering the same unique approach to health, fitness and wellbeing – it’s award-winning ethos is ‘Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind’. A decision was taken early on to include spa treatments as part of the room rate.

“By giving away treatments daily, you do end up sacrificing revenue and in this part of the world, spa is an expensive service to provide,” says Andrew Barnard, deputy managing director of SunSwept Resorts, which owns The BodyHoliday. “We began with two daily treatments but reduced this to one because the revenue loss was too much. So you have to make sure it’s right for your business model.”

But there are also advantages, explains Barnard: “Aside from the marketing value, the inclusive treatment factor contributes to our proposition as the number one wellness destination in the Caribbean.”

An impressive wellness centre comprising 33 treatment rooms serves the 154-key resort. Open daily between 9am and 6pm, the centre employs 65 therapists who complete approximately 250 treatments per day. Nearly all guests take up their free treatment from a choice of seven, 50-minute facial, body and massage therapies. These are just a taster of the extensive range of treatments available on the à la carte menu. Over 20 per cent of guests book additional paid-for treatments but Barnard explains there’s also a number of other sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities available on a complimentary basis. “Our male guests, for example, might take their treatment but will then get involved with water sports or try an activity to manage stress such as yoga,” he says.

While the wellness centre does generate revenue from upgraded treatments and associated retail sales, Barnard points out that offering something for free doesn’t necessarily guarantee additional purchases. “It’s all about perceived value,” he comments. “If a customer has paid £200 for a facial, then a £50 cream to take home becomes relative in terms of value. But when the treatment is free, the same £50 cream can be perceived as expensive. This can then lead to more resistance to purchase.”

Despite these challenges, Barnard acknowledges that visitors who come to The BodyHoliday seeking wellness do see the value in having a complimentary daily spa treatment. In fact, some have come to expect it. “It’s a cost we will continue to factor into our room rate,” concludes Barnard. “It is associated with our brand and is one of the factors that has helped us to carve out our niche in the marketplace.”

 



Inclusive treatments contribute to The BodyHoliday’s image as the top wellness destination in the Caribbean
 


Inclusive treatments contribute to The BodyHoliday’s image as the top wellness destination in the Caribbean
 


Neena Dhillon is a spa,
hotel and travel journalist
Email: ndhillon@spabusiness.com


Originally published in Spa Business 2014 issue 1

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd
Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Business analysis
Spa inclusive

Does offering a daily spa treatment as part of a hotel’s standard room rate make good business sense? We ask three operators about their experiences

By Neena Dhillon | Published in Spa Business 2014 issue 1

Fusion Maia Da Nang, Vietnam

‘Why didn’t anyone think about it before…?’ is the witty tag line for a resort that’s differentiating itself in the fiercely competitive Asian market by wrapping up spa treatments into its room rates. Guests of Fusion Maia Da Nang in Vietnam (see SB13/3 p54) aren’t required to book a spa package or elevated rack rate to receive complimentary treatments. Instead every guest qualifies for two daily treatments. Ironically, one of the biggest challenges for Fusion Maia Da Nang, which describes itself as ‘Asia’s first all spa inclusive resort’, has been persuading people that its offer is genuine, as general manager Michelle Ford explains: “At the beginning, we had to convince the industry there was no catch. The product had to be experienced first hand by journalists, travel agents and sales representatives to help spread word of mouth.”

Since the ‘spa inclusive’ concept has been factored into the 87-villa resort from its launch in 2010, there is a sizeable treatment facility on-site including 16 double treatment rooms, two beauty salons with 12 stations each, steamrooms, saunas, whirlpools, yoga studio, retail boutique and library. A permanent team of 80 therapists man the spa, open daily between 10am and 10pm (although it opens two hours earlier during peak periods). Guests can choose any treatment, regardless of length (typically 30 to 50 minutes), or any Natural Living wellbeing activity such as yoga, meditation or fitness. Once they’ve completed their two guaranteed treatments, they can request additional complimentary therapies on the day, subject to availability. Functioning at maximum capacity, the spa delivers up to 45 treatments per hour.

So, how is this all achieved?
Ford explains that they started by offering a small menu of popular treatments. This allowed time for the large team to be fully trained during the launch phase. The range of signature treatments has grown in tandem with the development of senior and master therapists and specialist consultants over the past three years. New options such as a bamboo (lymphatic drainage) massage, marble stone trigger point therapy and rose crystal chakra treatment are being added to the existing list of 20-plus massage, bodycare, beauty and holistic treatments.

With the recent introduction of a resident doctor specialising in naturopathy, Fusion Maia Da Nang will also offer advanced alternative therapies such as acupuncture that come with a fee attached.

Elsewhere the team doesn’t push retail products because selling is not part of the destination’s philosophy. Indeed the spa-inclusive concept, in combination with activities such as yoga and meditation, brings a distinctive atmosphere of overall wellbeing to the resort, according to Ford. This has contributed to a steady increase in occupancy, with over 70 per cent reached in the third year of operation.

Treatment costs have been taken into consideration from the outset when it comes to setting room rates. Specifically, the resort’s founders have accounted for the costs – namely electricity, oils and therapist time – of four treatments per room, per day. Yet Ford points out that Fusion Maia still offers great value – US$429 (€314, £258) a night – compared to other pool villa resorts in Vietnam and Thailand, including direct competitors. Early calculations based on resort occupancy also mean that the spa team is prepared operationally, as Ford confirms: “Our spa capacity was built on the basis of a 100 per cent capture rate so we have the facilities and staff to deal with demand. We don’t need to make adjustments for peak periods or differing capture rates.”

Consistency of demand – the spa has achieved the predicted near-100 per cent capture rate – has meant that staff scheduling is fairly straightforward. While there were early challenges in training a sufficient number of therapists with the required skill sets, the 80-strong team now includes a contingent of 10 therapists who cover annual leave, maternity cover and compensation days. Ford adds that specialist trainers also “show therapists how to restore and balance their own energy as part of our staff wellness programme.”

Another obstacle that quickly had to be overcome was the development of a software system capable of booking a complex variety and high volume of treatments. “ESP Online has customised elements and introduced additional features to its software system in response to the needs of our operation,” Ford explains. “We use colour to highlight different guest profiles, such as first timers who need a consultation; we’ve found ways of inputting bookings into the system faster; reports are adjusted to highlight the arrival times of guests into the resort; and we run from reservation screens only because we don’t have a billing component.”

At Fusion Maia, the spa inclusive concept is an integral part of the brand’s DNA. It’s been responsible for generating a crucial marketing buzz, which helps to drive up demand and occupancy, in turn covering the costs of the spa operation.

 



The spa has 80 therapists and can deliver up to 45 treatments an hour
 


Although the cost of treatments has been added to the room rate, Fusion Maia’s prices are still competitive and the inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
 


Fusion Maia’s prices are still competitive and the inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
 


Fusion Maia’s inclusive offer is a key differentiator
 
Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali

Another Asian resort that’s adopted an inclusive approach, since its 2007 opening, is Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali. Here a daily 50-minute treatment is included in the basic room rate and guests are free to choose from the full menu of locally-inspired natural therapies, body wraps, massages and skincare options. “Spa is part of the holistic philosophy of our intimate resort, which has been conceived to be fully inclusive with a focus on promoting wellbeing,” explains spa manager Yuyun Cindarsih. “It was only natural to include a treatment.” The offer is unique to Bali, with none of the resort’s sister Spa Villages – all owned by YTL Hotels – offering a treatment as part of their basic daily rates.

“The inclusion has improved the overall satisfaction of our guests. We’ve been able to measure this by the level of positive customer feedback we receive when compared to our range of properties. It’s also shown in our average occupancy, which reached 80 per cent in 2013.”

Guests at the resort are given the flexibility to combine their complimentary daily treatments for a longer therapy time, or extend, upgrade and add treatments on the day at a charge (full prices apply after 50 minutes). About 70 per cent of customers are enticed to pay for another treatment as a result of the policy. Only three to four people per year choose not to take up their free treatment and Cindarsih confirms that the spa generates revenue from up-selling and retail.

The spa has ample capacity for the resort’s 31 guests rooms. Comprising seven treatment rooms staffed by six therapists and a spa manager between 9am and 9pm, it handles a maximum of 42 treatments per day, with this limit reached approximately four to five days of the week. At peak periods, part-time therapists are brought in to assist the team, avoiding staff burnout.

Careful thought has been given to covering costs. Cindarsih outlines: “Therapist time, electricity, products, natural ingredients, prepping welcome and post-treatment rituals, laundry and set-up items such as candles and flowers. This is the breakdown of individual costs for each treatment, which have been incorporated into our room rate. Costs, which have been factored into our business model from the outset, are generally low so we still have a reasonably competitive rate of US$350-plus (€256, £211) per night, full board. We also contain costs by using local ingredients and growing herbs and roots ourselves.”

 



The spa has seven treatment rooms, is open 12 hours a day and can easily accommodate guests at the boutique 31-key resort
 


About 70 per cent of guests are enticed to pay for another treatment as a result of the flexible, spa-inclusive policy
 
 


The spa delivers a maximum of 42 treatments a day.
 
 


Part-time staff are brought in for peak periods
 
The BodyHoliday, St Lucia

As therapists’ wages and product prices fluctuate around the world, this can have a bearing on the feasibility of an inclusive approach. Set in the Caribbean, The BodyHoliday in St Lucia has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. When the family business was founded, no comparable destinations were offering the same unique approach to health, fitness and wellbeing – it’s award-winning ethos is ‘Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind’. A decision was taken early on to include spa treatments as part of the room rate.

“By giving away treatments daily, you do end up sacrificing revenue and in this part of the world, spa is an expensive service to provide,” says Andrew Barnard, deputy managing director of SunSwept Resorts, which owns The BodyHoliday. “We began with two daily treatments but reduced this to one because the revenue loss was too much. So you have to make sure it’s right for your business model.”

But there are also advantages, explains Barnard: “Aside from the marketing value, the inclusive treatment factor contributes to our proposition as the number one wellness destination in the Caribbean.”

An impressive wellness centre comprising 33 treatment rooms serves the 154-key resort. Open daily between 9am and 6pm, the centre employs 65 therapists who complete approximately 250 treatments per day. Nearly all guests take up their free treatment from a choice of seven, 50-minute facial, body and massage therapies. These are just a taster of the extensive range of treatments available on the à la carte menu. Over 20 per cent of guests book additional paid-for treatments but Barnard explains there’s also a number of other sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities available on a complimentary basis. “Our male guests, for example, might take their treatment but will then get involved with water sports or try an activity to manage stress such as yoga,” he says.

While the wellness centre does generate revenue from upgraded treatments and associated retail sales, Barnard points out that offering something for free doesn’t necessarily guarantee additional purchases. “It’s all about perceived value,” he comments. “If a customer has paid £200 for a facial, then a £50 cream to take home becomes relative in terms of value. But when the treatment is free, the same £50 cream can be perceived as expensive. This can then lead to more resistance to purchase.”

Despite these challenges, Barnard acknowledges that visitors who come to The BodyHoliday seeking wellness do see the value in having a complimentary daily spa treatment. In fact, some have come to expect it. “It’s a cost we will continue to factor into our room rate,” concludes Barnard. “It is associated with our brand and is one of the factors that has helped us to carve out our niche in the marketplace.”

 



Inclusive treatments contribute to The BodyHoliday’s image as the top wellness destination in the Caribbean
 


Inclusive treatments contribute to The BodyHoliday’s image as the top wellness destination in the Caribbean
 


Neena Dhillon is a spa,
hotel and travel journalist
Email: ndhillon@spabusiness.com

 


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