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Massage Today
February, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 02

Building a Successful Spa: Step Two - Theme/Spa Personality

By John Fanuzzi

Last month we initiated a 12-step process designed at opening a spa, starting with conception of the spa. Now let's talk personality!

As we move forward in the process after making that first commitment, the earthy decisions will start to accumulate.

Before you even decide on location, design and operational details, it is a good idea to consider the spa personality or theme, if you have not already done so. Do you want to have exotic Italian tile with painted murals? Will you focus on a specific ethnic or cultural atmosphere, reflected in particular modalities such as Ayurvedic treatments accompanied by Indian music? Would you like Greek marble columns with statuary and clouds painted on the ceilings? Contemporary with a full spread of treatments is common. How about Oriental massage with Asian therapists, or multicultural rooms with a variety of multinational therapists? Are you Zen, are you clinical, are you wholistic? Will you need a yoga or fitness room?

Have you considered a retreat setting? If so, what about housing or local hotels? This could be a good choice if you are interested in creating a restorative or anti-aging clinic. People will come to the middle of nowhere to get away. Perhaps a farm, one in which its outer restoration plays a role in the clients' restoration, would work well.

Do you want your spa to reflect a sense of "sacredness," such as the feeling of an ashram, in which spirituality and self-growth are part of the attraction? How about a certain smell when you walk in the door? Is there a clothing or uniform image you'd prefer?

If you choose an ethnic theme for your spa, the location could be even more crucial. The more exotic might prove impractical, when you consider having to find or train specialized therapists. You must also consider your budget. Do you want real marble of faux-painted? Carpet or tile floors? The options are endless.

Whatever you decide, the thread of the theme should penetrate everything in the spa, from products to treatments, colors, smells, uniforms, aprons, robes, and even ethnic therapists if that applies. The keywords are continuity, cohesiveness and uniqueness. You are defining who you are, and what your message and purpose are. In essence, you are defining the image and the perception that the public will get when they visit your facility. In economic terms, how you define your spa's theme and personality equals marketing dollars well-spent.

When spa consultant Monica Brown took on the job of developing the Hershey Spa, she flowed right in with the theme of the Chocolate Giant -- Chocolate. The result was a line of skin and bath products that smell just like chocolate. What a unique signature for such a company. (I have smelled the products and they do smell just like chocolate -- you almost want to drink the bathwater). That sounded like a no-brainer, but to a closed mind, the opportunity could have been missed, and the Hershey Spa would have become a traditional services spa instead.

Tara Grodesk, of Tara Spa Therapies, has been known for her "regional specialties" that reflect the needs of the local environment. For instance, in a cold harsh dry climate, such as at the Peaks at Telluride or in ski country such as here in Montana, she would perhaps promote an alpine menu, with treatments and products that would warm the bones, hydrate the skin, and feature some sort of a fireplace setting to lounge around. A Southwest theme might take into consideration the clay, aloe vera, sage, and adobe indigenous to the region. A tropical climate would invite a feeling of cooling, which might include ingredients in the products such as mango, citrus or coconut. An urban oasis in New York would create the sense of a "lunch-hour getaway" from the fast-paced city life. These seem like obvious points, but sometimes they are overlooked because people rely on familiarity with a certain product or a place, rather than thinking about the wants and needs of the people who truly matter: the clients who will frequent the spa.

In rural areas, consider a restorative retreat for lifestyle changes. Clients will travel to get away to pattern new habits. Here you might include cleansing diets with fasting; colonics; liver flushes; dark-field microscopy; blood and urine analysis; iridology; and classes on self-improvement and spirituality. If people could spent a week and return home transformed, just think how quickly all of their friends would be knocking on your spa door.

Next month, we'll take the third step toward opening a spa by addressing Location, Location, Location.

Only Victory,

John Fanuzzi

Click here for previous articles by John Fanuzzi.


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