Steve Kass has gained a reputation as an innovator and expert consultant, while having his feet firmly planted on the ground.
As founder and former CEO of American Leisure, Kass has been responsible for the conceptualisation and design of iconic projects in the US and internationally, specifically in the spa, fitness, lifestyle and wellness communities markets.
Following the sale of American Leisure in 2015, Kass launched his own boutique consultancy, Steve Kass Consulting, through which he will continue to work as a global leader and innovator, offering a world-class service to clients. Kass speaks exclusively to Spa Business about his goals and ambitions.
Tell us about the venture
The purpose of Steve Kass Consulting is to offer my services internationally as a concept and design consultant for the real estate and hospitality industries.
And your current projects?
We’re working on luxury projects with some of the largest residential builders and hospitality companies in the world, including Lennar, Tishman Speyer and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
We’ve been brought on board to be a part of the design team on a 50,000sq ft spa and wellness facility that will service 1,500 luxury apartments in Long Island City, US.
Other projects include the Spa at the Kimpton Hotel in the Cayman Islands, the new Four Seasons Hotel, New York City and the Four Seasons in Houston, Texas. All these jobs are exciting and I love the challenge. We get an opportunity to work with some very talented people.
What’s the need?
It used to be that when you were selling a residence, it was enough to give people a roof over their heads, but as a great quality of life has become essential, people want much more from the places they live in.
Developers who are building homes, condominiums, communities and hotels are recognising that it’s advantageous to offer not only spas, but also other facilities for leisure and recreation, such as fitness, wellness and community social spaces. Creating wellness communities like these is my area of expertise: I partner with developers to deliver these components of the scheme.
Why should they choose you?
In many cases, the experts who conceptualise high-end spa and wellness facilities create aesthetically beautiful designs and features, but it’s difficult or impossible to actually build them.
With experience of successfully operating hundreds of facilities, Steve Kass Consulting offers a highly effective alternative, by delivering the wow factor – new concepts, new ideas and new design features – while at the same time ensuring those features are operationally sound and can actually be built for a sensible budget.
At what stage do you get on board?
We like to get involved in projects early on, at the stage where the goals and aims are being defined. Then we present how our ideas, plans and designs will contribute to the success of the sales and enhance the bottom line of a project.
Is there a focus on adding value?
One of my proven strengths is forecasting trends and demand in facility design.
On new projects we typically start with the basics of what we know is expected as a minimum requirement. Then we get creative and work to see how much value we can add within the budget to elevate the bottom line and social value of the scheme.
How much room is there for innovation?
In all of the facilities we’re currently designing we add social components, such as bowling alleys and gathering spaces. We’ve also devised the concept of the ‘Living Lobby’ which offers – among other things – social activities and has proven to be successful. In all cases we create custom solutions.
What does this new direction mean for you professionally and personally?
It has allowed me to step away from being a CEO of a company with varied responsibilities, to really focus on what I love to do the most: conceptualise, design and create world-class facilities.
It also allows me to apply the many lessons I’ve learned through working with some of the world’s most respected architects, interior designers and engineers.
What are your goals and ambitions for Steve Kass Consulting?
To continue to be part of high-level teams working together to create outstanding luxury wellness-related projects and wellness communities.
We’re very proud of the company we keep, such as Clodagh and David Rockwell, to name but a few. We continue to work with clients repeatedly, because what we bring to the team are fresh ideas that work, innovation and effective solutions.
What’s the bottom line?
I hope Steve Kass Consulting will continue to make a difference and to do work that enables developers to sell their properties more quickly. Also that we bring added value which results in them being able to get higher margins on their investments.