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Massage Today
May, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 05

Building a Successful Spa: Step Five: Design

By John Fanuzzi

Before I get into this month's topic, I would like to apologize for some confusion about last month's article on budget - particularly with respect to the spreadsheets. A number of other pages are needed to give the full overview, and it simply would take up too much room to print.

I would invite those who would like some clarification to e-mail me at the address listed at the end of this article.

This month's topic is design. After perhaps months of preliminary planning - from birthing the original idea, to exploring the feasibility of such a project, to putting the finances in place to proceed - you are now ready for the next step: putting the ideas on paper. Generally, interior design firms or architects can do everything from construction documents, which include floor plan , electrical, lighting, interior finishes and furniture, to construction management; however, I strongly advise you to speak with a professional spa consultant first.

The reason a spa professional should be on the job before a designer is that he or she has the familiarity with the equipment as it relates to the planning requirements. He or she also can lead you to sources of information, such as attending a major spa trade show where you can pick the brains of an abundance of experienced owners, spa directors, educators, and manufacturers. I often see spa consultants meeting their clients at trade shows, specifically to pick out equipment. This should be done before final drawings on your spa are made.

The spa professional assists the designer, who may not be familiar with the wide variety of equipment used in a spa. Building a spa requires knowledge of specialty equipment that is not in your designer's normal line of residential and commercial jobs. If your designer does not know what equipment is available, how can he or she provide the proper space and flow requirements?

A good spa consultant has a design background and can help with the preliminary floor plan, including room sizes, traffic flow, adjacencies, and room use requirements as they pertain to the proper equipment and mechanical requirements. He or she can advise you on the benefits and drawbacks of certain modalities, which ultimately equate to more or less revenue per square foot.

Spa consultants should also be familiar with the proper space, plumbing, electrical, and ventilation requirements for certain equipment. Some of the specialty equipment includes wet rooms with vichy showers or hydrotherapy tubs, steam, sauna, and pedicure units, and a multitude of therapy tables.

I have had customers building a small operation who did not hire a professional, who thought they wanted a full wet room with a vichy shower, but didn't realize that a water containment table in a dry room would work fine, save money, save cleanup time, save laundry, and also not limit that room to only wet treatments. I usually recommend this to smaller day spas with less than six treatment rooms. I also recommend a floor drain and hand sink in every treatment room, so your facility is versatile enough to accept wet/dry tables and multifunction massage, facial, and pedicure chairs.

For those of you who have no background in building and design, let me explain some of the basic design components that all need to fit together and get coordinated. On jobs requiring an architect, such as new construction or additions, a set of contract drawings is issued for each of the components, including: structural (if required), architectural, plumbing, and heating ventilation / air conditioning (HVAC). If the structural components of the building are already in place, such as in a space that is leased in a shopping mall, then architectural interior design drawings are the primary requirement. On most remodels, individual sub-contractors usually present their own shop drawings to dovetail with your architectural needs.

The next step is to choose an interior designer who will evaluate, edit and draft your floor plan for proper building code requirements. This person must be sensitive enough to work within your budget, to acquire the most aesthetic value for the money and resonate with your theme. He or she will also select the proper interior finish materials and furniture. Ideally the designer will create the space to set the mood and be functional. Using spa consultants and professionals from the design community will save time and money, and create a more professional space. In the end, when you have to live with the results, you will be a happy camper. You may also get less gray hair in the process.

Next month we'll be ready for the construction - bring your tool belt.

Only Victory,

John Fanuzzi

Click here for previous articles by John Fanuzzi.


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