Creating a Wellness Spa: Easier Said Than Done?

Marti Morenings

It seems that everywhere I look; I see “wellness” and “integrative medicine” listed as top spa trends. Consumers across the globe are seeking a holistic spa experience that addresses mind, body and spirit. This is good news as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t help but think of the difficulties day spa owners may have implementing the types of practices and programs that make a spa a “wellness spa.”

Trends point to an integrated model, but in reality, the execution is “easier said than done.” Clearly it is less work to deliver the 50-90 minute massage or facial and let the client go on their way. However, that is not the future of spa according to most experts.

What can you as a spa operator or sole practitioner do to become more holistic in your approach? Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Start with your clients: Going holistic makes perfect sense if you start from your client’s point of view. Begin each treatment with an intake form to uncover challenges and desires. Integrate juicy tidbits for healthy living and recommend products to extend the service at home. Organize a group hike or yoga in the park.

2. Embrace Traditional Spa therapies: Never underestimate the importance of your own spa services. Spa is wellness by nature. Consider enhancing your traditional massages and facials with European-inspired spa therapies such as manual lymph drainage, connective tissue massage, aromatherapy. Get creative with the use of herbs, seaweed and muds.

3. Partner with like-minded professionals: Instead of trying to do everything yourself, join forces with complementary wellness practitioners. Consider specialist in yoga, acupuncture, meditation, nutrition, sports and wellness coaches.

4. Focus on Home Care: Let’s face it—what happens once your customers leave your spa is most important to their health and appearance. It is our obligation to suggest home care regimens so that the spa client sees the spa and the spa practitioners as their healthy lifestyle gurus. The good news is retail also increases your bottom line. It’s the ultimate win-win.

I agree with the research, the spa industry should and will move in the direction of wellness. Wellness works from a business perspective as well. Offering an authentic, customized and therapeutic experience for each client is the quickest path to repeat business and precious word of mouth referrals.

How do you impact the health vitality of your clients on a daily basis? Care to share?


5 Responses to “Creating a Wellness Spa: Easier Said Than Done?”

  1. Paula Says:

    Visit Paula

    Thank you for this informative article Marti! I agree with your thoughts and recommendations as I am a Beauty Nutrition Expert that helps Spas build profitable wellness based programs. The most successful ones (both for the client and business) are those who incorporate their unique spa philosophy/branding into their wellness program. So I couldn’t agree with you more!

    Thanks again for sharing,

  2. Kathryn Stolle Says:

    Visit Kathryn Stolle

    Great article! I’d just like to add that one of the first steps is helping both spa owners AND guests understand the concept of wellness. It’s (mis)used so broadly. From the get-go – or at least when I started out 20 years ago, spas were about body, mind and spirit and a holistic approach to providing treatments. I think that – unfortunately – too many spas have lapsed back into a salon mentality – provide the treatment and out the door with the client – to make ends meet. And as you said, it’s easier said than done to go the wellness route.

    Wellness will provide those spas savvy enough to make the effort with a competitive edge in a market that is moving steadily in that direction. Those who embrace it will stay ahead of the game….

  3. Marti Morenings Says:

    Visit Marti Morenings

    Thank you both for commenting!

    Paula – it is good to hear that resources exist out there for the spa that needs help to create a wellness component, and I have heard great things about your expertise in this area!

    Kathryn – I agree that the term wellness has been mis-understood and hopefully comments such as yours will encourage forward-thinking spa owners/directors to investigate the benefits – not only for the health of their clients, but for the future health of the spa.

  4. Patti Biro Says:

    Visit Patti Biro

    Bravo Marti for helping spa owners and go-ers begin to get a toe hold on the concept of wellness. I especially applaud you for reinforcing the idea that many of the treatments currently offered are centered in wellness principals-and often have a large body of clinical research to support their use. First and formost guests will define what “wellness” means for them and that may not be a static definition-but one that evolves over time!

  5. Marti Morenings Says:

    Visit Marti Morenings

    Thank you for your great remarks Patti. To further your comment about the clinical research for spa treatments, the new Evidenced-Based Medicine Portal for Spa & Wellness Therapies (see the link below) is an incredible resource for spas who are serious about incorporating wellness, or even to simply verify the efficacy of their treatments:

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