Latest
issue
GET SPA BUSINESS
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital editions of Spa Business and Spa Business insider magazines and the FREE weekly Spa Business and Spa Business insider ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Features   Products   Company profilesProfiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise    Subscribe  
Resort Spa
Sands of time

The opening of the Oitavos hotel and spa, part of a Portuguese beach estate came 90 years after it was first envisioned and challenges traditional design conceptions

By Tom Walker | Published in Spa Business 2012 issue 1


Located in the sporting estate of Quinta da Marinha within the protected Cascais Sintra Natural Park on Portugal’s Estoril coast, the family-owned Oitavos hotel and spa has a fascinating birth story.

“All you see around you – the golf course, the hotel, even the roads, trees and vegetation – are the result of a 90-year-long family project,” says general manager Miguel M Champalimaud. “My great-grandfather Carlos Montez Champalimaud discovered this site in 1908 and bought 900 hectares (9sq km) of land here in 1920: when it was barren and dominated by sand dunes. His dream was to transform the wild and uninhabited landscape and establish a tourism and leisure resort here.” 

Partly due to delays caused by WWII, Carlos never saw his dream become a reality, but his work was continued enthusiastically by his son, Carlos Sommer Champalimaud, who created a vineyard and an equestrian centre after the war. The project was then completed by Carlos Sommer’s son Miguel (the father of Miguel M) who oversaw the design and launch of the Oitavos Dunes golf course (in 2001), a large health and racquet club (in 2004), and finally The Oitavos hotel and spa in September 2010.

90-YEAR-OLD DREAM
Carlos Montez would be proud of the results –
the health club has 4,000 paying members, and the golf course has gained international recognition. And at the centre of the impeccably groomed fairways of the golf course sits the Champalimaud’s prize possession – The Oitavos hotel and spa.

The hotel might have been first envisaged more than 90 years ago, but the final result – a somewhat otherworldly steel and glass structure in the shape of the letter Y – is anything but traditional. Designed by Portuguese architect and artist José Amaral Anahory, the 142-bedroom hotel took four years to design and three years to build to ensure that it met the family’s expectations. In addition, the investment totalled €40m (us$51.4m, £33.1m), with funding coming from cash flow via other family businesses, added to the selling of plots of land in Quinta da Marinha for residential development and a bank loan.

Anahory was given a brief to “bring the outside inside” and to make the hotel take a backseat to nature – rather than dominate it. His solution was to use large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout to open up the view to the guests. Nowhere is Anahory’s concept of creating bright, open spaces more evident than at the spa, which occupies the ground floor of the five-storey building.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN
“Natural light is definitely our unique selling point,” says spa manager Rita Rosado. “Many spas, especially at hotels, are either underground, tucked in a basement or confined to a windowless space. Here we have opened the spa to the elements and, rather than creating a dimly-lit space with warm tones, we rely on brightness, the nature and sun to help the healing process.”

As a result, no matter where guests are in the spa – even the treatment rooms – they are treated to sweeping views across the undulating dunes and a breathtaking vista of the Atlantic Sea. This, says Miguel M, was always part of the plan. “My father knew the land – he grew up here – so he knew exactly where the best location for the hotel would be. When the golf course was designed, he had already identified this plot so it was left empty for the hotel.”

The 800sq m (8,600 sq ft) spa has 10 treatment rooms and therapies include those by organic seaweed company Voya to highlight the relationship that The Oitavos has with its Atlantic surroundings. Due to its proximity to the ocean, the indoor and outdoor spa pools also feature seawater and are heated by the warm-air expelled by the hotel’s ventilation system. A large relaxation area, a sauna and a steamroom complete the spa facilities. For the more active, there’s also a large health and fitness suite adjacent to the spa with more than 20 exercise stations supplied by Star Trac.

French skincare brand GERnétic is also used at the spa. In addition to a full menu of body treatments, facials and bath therapies, is the spa’s signature four-handed massage.

TEAM WORK
Rosado has been working for the Champalimaud’s since 2004. Previously she was the spa manager at the family’s health and racquet club, which has four treatment rooms. “I was lucky enough to land the role,” she says. “It was very exciting to be part of something this big and new – especially when you got to see it all open for the first time.”

To help with the hotel launch, the family appointed Seattle-based management and consultancy company Columbia Hospitality. The team – led by Stephen Roughley, who spent eight years as director of operations at JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa – took up residence for nearly two years, 12 months before the opening of the hotel and for the first 10 months of operating.

Within the spa environment, Rosado worked closely with Columbia’s dedicated spa consultant, Melanie Silver, whose CV includes seven years as director of spa at Ritz-Carlton St Thomas on the British Virgin Islands. “The biggest pre-opening challenge was recruiting and establishing a great team,” says Rosado. “It wasn’t that there was a lack of talent – it was more to do with charting individual personalities and making sure they clicked with each other. I believe having a great team is the most important aspect of having a great spa. Each team member must be clear about their own individual roles but also aware of what’s going on around them. We want to be with our clients at every step of their spa journey and to achieve that I believe the team has to work as one.”

Visiting the spa, it’s clear to see this approach works. On arrival, every member of staff seems to know who you are and what treatments you’re about to have, creating a genuinely welcoming atmosphere.

Alongside her ambition to make sure everything runs like clockwork, Rosado also wants her team to be spontaneous. “I always encourage the team to add little touches to treatments and to make the guest really feel that they are experiencing something unique. For example, a therapist might give a head massage to a guest who’s having a seaweed bath to further ease away tension.”

A WIDER AUDIENCE
The spa was drawn into the hotel plans at an early stage with the rationale that it was needed to complete the offer. “It was essential to embrace spa visitors and to make the experience at The Oitavos relaxing,” says Miguel M. “The motivating factor was the possibility of having such a diversified offer that’s inclusive of gastronomy, golf, a riding centre, the beach and a spa.”

Early on, it was also decided that the spa would be an independent profit centre and although it features heavily in the hotel’s marketing, Rosado says it’s also actively marketed to affluent locals as a stand-alone day spa. To support this, a new set of day packages will be introduced, some of which will combine access to the spa with lunch at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant.

As for hotel guests, in its first year the spa’s capture rate has bounced around the 25 per cent mark – a figure that spa director Rosado is happy with, but one that she will work to improve. “We want to grow the capture rate by 15 per cent in the next year,” she says. One key audience she’s identified to help with this is business guests – 50 per cent of the hotel’s customers – who are attracted by the spa’s express treatments, such as the 25-minute Swedish massage.

According to Miguel M, the hotel’s conferencing and corporate hospitality business has proven stronger than expected. So much so that the hotel will shut for a month at the beginning of 2012 to increase conference space by converting an unused space on the first floor.

However, this does not mean that the hotel’s focus will change from leisure to business. “We want to make the split 60-40 in favour of leisure,” says Miguel M, adding that the average stay for a leisure customer is currently four days compared with only around 1.5 days for business customers.

FUTURE HORIZONS 
The overall occupancy rate at Oitavos was 45 per cent for the first year – which was according to the expectations set for the first 12 months. The target for 2012 is to increase occupancy to 50 per cent – a sign that the family does not want to run before it can walk. Although the target might seem modest, the family is only expecting to start seeing a return on their investment within the next 15-20 years.

When questioned about future plans, Miguel M rules out expanding the hotel – but not the possibility of opening a second site. “There are no expansion plans for The Oitavos. This is the way it was designed and this is the way it will stay. As for a second site, at the moment we have no plans for that either. We need to concentrate all our energy and efforts on making The Oitavos successful. But why not in the future? Why not? If our concept and take on luxury proves successful then I can’t see any reason why we couldn’t replicate it in another place in some way.”


The Oitavos hotel & spa by numbers
* Hotel prices range from €275 (us$353, £227) for a superior room to €1,380 (us$1,773, £1,140) a night for a suite
* The domestic market accounts for 30 per cent of overnights stays
* 50 per cent of hotel guests come from central and northern Europe, with a large number of these arriving from the UK, Germany and France
* Number of staff at the hotel overall: 130
* Number of therapists: seven.
* Cost of a four hand massage:
€175 (us$225, £145) for 50 minutes,
€270 (us$347, £223) for 80 minutes
*Voya facials range from €89-170 (us$114-218, £74-180) for 50 and 80 minutes respectively; while the 170-minute Land to Sea package costs €296 (us$380, £244) and includes a seaweed bath, massage, facial and wrap

Huge floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the hotel and spa open up the stunning views to guests
Portuguese architect Anahory spent four years designing the 142-bedroom hotel to ensure it met the owners’ expectations
The spa journey is a smooth process – on arrival every member of staff knows who you are and what treatment you’re having
THE Champalimauds
The modern spa features 10 treatment rooms, a large relaxation area, a sauna, a steamroom and a health and fitness suite
The use of seawater in the spa pools reflects its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean
A new set of day packages is being launched in a bid to attract affluent locals to use the facility as a stand-alone day spa
The spa is marketed alongside the hotel but remains an independent profit centre
Seaweed wraps by Voya emphasise the spa’s location by the ocean
The company aims to boost the hotel’s occupancy rate from 45 per cent in the first year to 50 per cent capacity in 2012
Leisure customers enjoy longer stays at the hotel and spa than business customers
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

From digital trends to real-world sustainability, Spa Life has it all
Spa Life International® Conventions are intimate, business-focussed events, created exclusively for senior spa and wellness professionals looking for a more targeted, cost- effective way of doing business. [more...]

Metawell: unlocking the possibilities in a new era of wellness
A decade ago, the Gharieni Group began pioneering the integration of advanced wellness technologies into its spa and treatment beds. This innovative approach has since become one of the industry's most significant disruptions and groundbreaking trends. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Aescape

Founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Eric Litman, Aescape is the world’s first commercially availa [more...]
G.M. COLLIN

G.M. COLLIN develops superior skin care products, from preventive care to combating the first signs [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

22-22 Jun 2024

World Bathing Day

Worldwide,
22-24 Jun 2024

IECSC Las Vegas

Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, United States
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
SPA BUSINESS
SPA OPPORTUNITIES
SPA BUSINESS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
Resort Spa
Sands of time

The opening of the Oitavos hotel and spa, part of a Portuguese beach estate came 90 years after it was first envisioned and challenges traditional design conceptions

By Tom Walker | Published in Spa Business 2012 issue 1


Located in the sporting estate of Quinta da Marinha within the protected Cascais Sintra Natural Park on Portugal’s Estoril coast, the family-owned Oitavos hotel and spa has a fascinating birth story.

“All you see around you – the golf course, the hotel, even the roads, trees and vegetation – are the result of a 90-year-long family project,” says general manager Miguel M Champalimaud. “My great-grandfather Carlos Montez Champalimaud discovered this site in 1908 and bought 900 hectares (9sq km) of land here in 1920: when it was barren and dominated by sand dunes. His dream was to transform the wild and uninhabited landscape and establish a tourism and leisure resort here.” 

Partly due to delays caused by WWII, Carlos never saw his dream become a reality, but his work was continued enthusiastically by his son, Carlos Sommer Champalimaud, who created a vineyard and an equestrian centre after the war. The project was then completed by Carlos Sommer’s son Miguel (the father of Miguel M) who oversaw the design and launch of the Oitavos Dunes golf course (in 2001), a large health and racquet club (in 2004), and finally The Oitavos hotel and spa in September 2010.

90-YEAR-OLD DREAM
Carlos Montez would be proud of the results –
the health club has 4,000 paying members, and the golf course has gained international recognition. And at the centre of the impeccably groomed fairways of the golf course sits the Champalimaud’s prize possession – The Oitavos hotel and spa.

The hotel might have been first envisaged more than 90 years ago, but the final result – a somewhat otherworldly steel and glass structure in the shape of the letter Y – is anything but traditional. Designed by Portuguese architect and artist José Amaral Anahory, the 142-bedroom hotel took four years to design and three years to build to ensure that it met the family’s expectations. In addition, the investment totalled €40m (us$51.4m, £33.1m), with funding coming from cash flow via other family businesses, added to the selling of plots of land in Quinta da Marinha for residential development and a bank loan.

Anahory was given a brief to “bring the outside inside” and to make the hotel take a backseat to nature – rather than dominate it. His solution was to use large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout to open up the view to the guests. Nowhere is Anahory’s concept of creating bright, open spaces more evident than at the spa, which occupies the ground floor of the five-storey building.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN
“Natural light is definitely our unique selling point,” says spa manager Rita Rosado. “Many spas, especially at hotels, are either underground, tucked in a basement or confined to a windowless space. Here we have opened the spa to the elements and, rather than creating a dimly-lit space with warm tones, we rely on brightness, the nature and sun to help the healing process.”

As a result, no matter where guests are in the spa – even the treatment rooms – they are treated to sweeping views across the undulating dunes and a breathtaking vista of the Atlantic Sea. This, says Miguel M, was always part of the plan. “My father knew the land – he grew up here – so he knew exactly where the best location for the hotel would be. When the golf course was designed, he had already identified this plot so it was left empty for the hotel.”

The 800sq m (8,600 sq ft) spa has 10 treatment rooms and therapies include those by organic seaweed company Voya to highlight the relationship that The Oitavos has with its Atlantic surroundings. Due to its proximity to the ocean, the indoor and outdoor spa pools also feature seawater and are heated by the warm-air expelled by the hotel’s ventilation system. A large relaxation area, a sauna and a steamroom complete the spa facilities. For the more active, there’s also a large health and fitness suite adjacent to the spa with more than 20 exercise stations supplied by Star Trac.

French skincare brand GERnétic is also used at the spa. In addition to a full menu of body treatments, facials and bath therapies, is the spa’s signature four-handed massage.

TEAM WORK
Rosado has been working for the Champalimaud’s since 2004. Previously she was the spa manager at the family’s health and racquet club, which has four treatment rooms. “I was lucky enough to land the role,” she says. “It was very exciting to be part of something this big and new – especially when you got to see it all open for the first time.”

To help with the hotel launch, the family appointed Seattle-based management and consultancy company Columbia Hospitality. The team – led by Stephen Roughley, who spent eight years as director of operations at JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa – took up residence for nearly two years, 12 months before the opening of the hotel and for the first 10 months of operating.

Within the spa environment, Rosado worked closely with Columbia’s dedicated spa consultant, Melanie Silver, whose CV includes seven years as director of spa at Ritz-Carlton St Thomas on the British Virgin Islands. “The biggest pre-opening challenge was recruiting and establishing a great team,” says Rosado. “It wasn’t that there was a lack of talent – it was more to do with charting individual personalities and making sure they clicked with each other. I believe having a great team is the most important aspect of having a great spa. Each team member must be clear about their own individual roles but also aware of what’s going on around them. We want to be with our clients at every step of their spa journey and to achieve that I believe the team has to work as one.”

Visiting the spa, it’s clear to see this approach works. On arrival, every member of staff seems to know who you are and what treatments you’re about to have, creating a genuinely welcoming atmosphere.

Alongside her ambition to make sure everything runs like clockwork, Rosado also wants her team to be spontaneous. “I always encourage the team to add little touches to treatments and to make the guest really feel that they are experiencing something unique. For example, a therapist might give a head massage to a guest who’s having a seaweed bath to further ease away tension.”

A WIDER AUDIENCE
The spa was drawn into the hotel plans at an early stage with the rationale that it was needed to complete the offer. “It was essential to embrace spa visitors and to make the experience at The Oitavos relaxing,” says Miguel M. “The motivating factor was the possibility of having such a diversified offer that’s inclusive of gastronomy, golf, a riding centre, the beach and a spa.”

Early on, it was also decided that the spa would be an independent profit centre and although it features heavily in the hotel’s marketing, Rosado says it’s also actively marketed to affluent locals as a stand-alone day spa. To support this, a new set of day packages will be introduced, some of which will combine access to the spa with lunch at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant.

As for hotel guests, in its first year the spa’s capture rate has bounced around the 25 per cent mark – a figure that spa director Rosado is happy with, but one that she will work to improve. “We want to grow the capture rate by 15 per cent in the next year,” she says. One key audience she’s identified to help with this is business guests – 50 per cent of the hotel’s customers – who are attracted by the spa’s express treatments, such as the 25-minute Swedish massage.

According to Miguel M, the hotel’s conferencing and corporate hospitality business has proven stronger than expected. So much so that the hotel will shut for a month at the beginning of 2012 to increase conference space by converting an unused space on the first floor.

However, this does not mean that the hotel’s focus will change from leisure to business. “We want to make the split 60-40 in favour of leisure,” says Miguel M, adding that the average stay for a leisure customer is currently four days compared with only around 1.5 days for business customers.

FUTURE HORIZONS 
The overall occupancy rate at Oitavos was 45 per cent for the first year – which was according to the expectations set for the first 12 months. The target for 2012 is to increase occupancy to 50 per cent – a sign that the family does not want to run before it can walk. Although the target might seem modest, the family is only expecting to start seeing a return on their investment within the next 15-20 years.

When questioned about future plans, Miguel M rules out expanding the hotel – but not the possibility of opening a second site. “There are no expansion plans for The Oitavos. This is the way it was designed and this is the way it will stay. As for a second site, at the moment we have no plans for that either. We need to concentrate all our energy and efforts on making The Oitavos successful. But why not in the future? Why not? If our concept and take on luxury proves successful then I can’t see any reason why we couldn’t replicate it in another place in some way.”


The Oitavos hotel & spa by numbers
* Hotel prices range from €275 (us$353, £227) for a superior room to €1,380 (us$1,773, £1,140) a night for a suite
* The domestic market accounts for 30 per cent of overnights stays
* 50 per cent of hotel guests come from central and northern Europe, with a large number of these arriving from the UK, Germany and France
* Number of staff at the hotel overall: 130
* Number of therapists: seven.
* Cost of a four hand massage:
€175 (us$225, £145) for 50 minutes,
€270 (us$347, £223) for 80 minutes
*Voya facials range from €89-170 (us$114-218, £74-180) for 50 and 80 minutes respectively; while the 170-minute Land to Sea package costs €296 (us$380, £244) and includes a seaweed bath, massage, facial and wrap

Huge floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the hotel and spa open up the stunning views to guests
Portuguese architect Anahory spent four years designing the 142-bedroom hotel to ensure it met the owners’ expectations
The spa journey is a smooth process – on arrival every member of staff knows who you are and what treatment you’re having
THE Champalimauds
The modern spa features 10 treatment rooms, a large relaxation area, a sauna, a steamroom and a health and fitness suite
The use of seawater in the spa pools reflects its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean
A new set of day packages is being launched in a bid to attract affluent locals to use the facility as a stand-alone day spa
The spa is marketed alongside the hotel but remains an independent profit centre
Seaweed wraps by Voya emphasise the spa’s location by the ocean
The company aims to boost the hotel’s occupancy rate from 45 per cent in the first year to 50 per cent capacity in 2012
Leisure customers enjoy longer stays at the hotel and spa than business customers
LATEST NEWS
One&Only’s new oceanfront spa in Greece offers treatments inspired by Greek mythology and Ayurveda
One&Only Resorts has introduced a new three-storey spa on the picturesque Greek island of Kéa, located at its recently launched oceanfront property, One&Only Kéa Island Resort and Private Homes.
Report identifies diversity, equity and inclusion challenges in health club sector
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the European fitness industry is examined in a new report which provides eye-opening findings and a starting point for change.
RLA Global: Wellness hotels experience positive growth trend globally in 2023
Hotels incorporating wellness amenities experienced a significant boost in Total Revenue per Available Room (TRevPAR) in 2023, according to the latest Wellness Real Estate Report by RLA Global, produced in partnership with P&L benchmarking firm HotStats.
World leaders gather at luxury Italian wellness retreat Borgo Egnazia for G7 Summit
The 2024 G7 Summit is now underway at a destination spa resort in Puglia, Italy, with leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US convening to address some of the world’s most urgent issues.
Minor devises new medi-wellness concept for Anantara, debuting in Phuket in Q3
Minor Hotels CEO Dillip Rajakarier has unveiled plans to introduce an innovative medi-wellness concept to the group's Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas brand, with ambitions to expand the concept to additional resorts in the future.
Global Wellness Day 2024 shatters records as 1 billion people unite for wellness and nature
Global Wellness Day (GWD) marked its 13th anniversary on Saturday, 8 June and was reportedly celebrated by a record-breaking 1 billion people worldwide, making it the most successful year yet.
Deepak Chopra-backed wellness resort Ameyalli to open among historic Utah hot springs
Wellness industry figure Deepak Chopra is co-developing a new wellness community and resort focused on wellbeing and longevity in Utah’s Heber Valley, centred around natural geothermal springs.
László Puczkó joins Ensana as senior health spa advisor
European health spa operator Ensana has announced the strategic appointment of Dr László Puczkó as senior health spa advisor.
EU funds Great Spa Towns of Europe youth project to foster intercultural dialogue among spa towns
The Great Spa Towns of Europe (GSTE) has announced the successful approval of its funding application under the European Town Twinning Programme. This funding will support a year- long project named INTERSPACE, aimed at fostering intercultural dialogue among communities within the GSTE network.
Gen Z women are more engaged with physical activity than previous generations, finds Ernst & Young research
According to new research from Ernst & Young, the gap between female and male engagement in sport and physical activity is narrowing, with Gen Z adult female engagement figures on the rise.
Welsh coastal hotel The Quay unveils new-look spa after £1m makeover
North Wales’ four-star The Quay Hotel & Spa in the Deganwy Marina in Conwy has invested £1 million (€1.2 million, US$1.3 million) refreshing its 580sq m destination spa with new wellness facilities.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve to land in South America with tropical retreat in Rio de Janeiro
Marriott is set to bolster its exclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio with a brand new property in South America in Costa do Sol, Rio de Janeiro.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

From digital trends to real-world sustainability, Spa Life has it all
Spa Life International® Conventions are intimate, business-focussed events, created exclusively for senior spa and wellness professionals looking for a more targeted, cost- effective way of doing business. [more...]

Metawell: unlocking the possibilities in a new era of wellness
A decade ago, the Gharieni Group began pioneering the integration of advanced wellness technologies into its spa and treatment beds. This innovative approach has since become one of the industry's most significant disruptions and groundbreaking trends. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Aescape

Founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Eric Litman, Aescape is the world’s first commercially availa [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

22-22 Jun 2024

World Bathing Day

Worldwide,
22-24 Jun 2024

IECSC Las Vegas

Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, United States
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS