Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.2 | Transitions

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Transitions

In the United States, many spas followed the classical European tradition of taking the waters. Such historic spas as the Greenbrier, Saratoga Springs, The Homestead, Glenwood Hot Springs, and French Lick and West Baden Springs were all centered around mineral springs. As traditional medicine developed more treatments, drugs began to replace traditional water cures, leading to the waning of spas in America.

The renaissance and renewal of wider public interest in spas, especially in the United States and Canada, can be directly linked to the emergence and development of the health movement and fitness boom of the 1960s and 1970s. As the fitness fascination took hold, some spa professionals began to notice that there were “fit” people who were not “well.” This shifted the paradigm from merely being physical toward a focus on wellness and emotional well-being, which in turn, opened and broadened the way from fitness clubs to the contemporary spa.

One of the central figures in this shift from fitness to spa was Sheila Cluff, a professional figure skater and high school physical education teacher. Cluff introduced “cardiovascular dance” to the world in the 1950s. Later her methods were refined by fitness practitioners, including Dr. Kenneth Cooper and Jacki Sorensen, and would come to be called aerobics. Cluff went on to found The Oaks at Ojai in 1977. This American fitness movement would lead many people to see and think about spas in a new and wider light than the classical European model with its primary focus on the waters.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.3 | Today's Spa Industry

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Today’s Spa Industry

An increasingly hectic daily life with ever increasing pressure to earn more and more money has spurred the growth of the spa industry. Specifically for women, pressure was at a zenith in the 1980s with baby boomer women breaking out of traditional roles in droves and pursuing careers as well as family life. The “I can have it all” attitude of the time, which persists today, was a lot to sustain, and combined with the information overload of the 1990s, created a “perfect storm” of stress in the daily lives of millions. The antidote: Spa.

Relaxation and stress reduction always have been and continue to be the primary drivers of spa visits. As technology grew exponentially, and people became constantly accessible and available, stress and the need for relaxation increased. People began feeling less human and more like numbers or bytes of data. The high-tech world needed to be balanced with high-touch. This remains the foundation for the relevance of spa today and into the future.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.4 | Proliferation of Spas

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Proliferation of Spa

As the twenty-first century dawned, the term spa was more clearly understood than ever, the spa lifestyle was more incorporated into the mainstream culture and the idea that the word “spa” could add value to nearly any business concept resulted in a proliferation of the word “spa” in many unlikely applications.

Spa had come to connote luxury, enhanced value, pampering, nurturing, and health. The term spa began to show up in surprising places. Legitimately, dental practices, airports, hospitals, malls, residential communities, private clubs, and other businesses all began to incorporate elements of the spa experience into their business models.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.5 | Branding the Spa Experience

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Branding the Spa Experience

Branding is the natural hallmark of a maturing industry. The spa industry is no exception. As it developed and grew, certain brands naturally evolved. There was also increasing interest on the part of investors and owners to brand the spa experience to increase market share and profitability. The first recognized spa brand was The Red Door, which evolved from the original concept Elizabeth Arden established in the early 1900s. Other brands, such as Canyon Ranch SpaClub and The Golden Door, grew out of the strong name recognition they had earned as popular trendsetters.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.6 | New and Emerging Spa Concepts

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

New and Emerging Spa Concepts 

As the number of spa locations has increased dramatically over the past two decades, a flurry of classifications have become necessary to categorize the array of spa experiences being offered in the market. It also became necessary to distinguish spas from those businesses that simply offered one or two spa services as an adjunct to their main business.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.7 | Spa Culture and the Service Ethic

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Spa Culture and the Service Ethic

To characterize excellent service before the proliferation of spa, one might use words like professional, detached, smiling, gracious, and polite. Many of these words can still be used to characterize excellent service today, however, consumers might add: caring, personable, engaged, empathetic, and genuine to that list.

When spas became a part of hospitality, the service ethic changed as a result of shepherding guests through a variety of intensely personal experiences. It had the effect of closing the distance between the server and the served. Spa technicians were more than specialists, they were entering a gray area that was part servant, but also part therapist, part healer, part hand holder, part confidante. Spa therapists learn things about the people they work with, and being known opens people up to a different experience of service, and different expectations of being served.

Spa culture continually challenges the service ethic to be more aware, more empathetic, and more sensitive to the core components of leisure: reconnection and total well being.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 3.8 | Conclusion

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Conclusion

Spa professionals are healers for people and society. They are also business people. While spas continue to embrace their origins and roots as places of healing and spiritual renewal, spas are maturing as a business, industry, and profession. Increasingly sophisticated and profit-focused organizations are entering the market, influencing the others in the market to think more about the financial bottom line and how to generate a sustainable profit. Manufacturers and product distributors have become more creative and innovative in their marketing and branding. Investors are more aware of spas and why they are worthy of investment.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4 | Trend Analysis: Possibilities and Predictions

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

From almost the beginning of time, spas have provided renewal, regeneration, and rejuvenation. They have been special places where people go to find themselves. They go to rest, reflect, and rediscover themselves so they can later re-enter the world with a refreshed body, mind, and spirit. Over the centuries, spas have evolved, experiencing sometimes rapid proliferation into mainstream culture. During the past two decades, spas have witnessed a rapid growth and expansion around the world.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.1 | Understanding Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

The growth and changes in the spa world over the past decade have created a highly competitive environment for spas and resource partners (vendors).

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.2 | Key Market Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Spas are deeply affected by the world around them and by the same market conditions that affect any other business. Three primary market issues shaping the world of spa are human resources and staffing, the uneven application of standards for the industry, and increased competition from both within and outside the industry.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.3 | Social Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Future spa guests will be more informed, knowledgeable, sophisticated, demanding, secure, aware, worldly, and better traveled than ever before. Vast amounts of information about spa alternatives will be at their fingertips. They will be able to quickly evaluate the array of spa offerings and judge which ones best suit them. Their purchases will be better attuned to their expectations, resulting in enhanced satisfaction.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.4 | Market Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

While no one knows for certain which trends will continue to have a widespread effect on the industry, it is possible to identify some that seem to have a lifespan that transports them beyond a fad. They are the trends that are shaping today’s industry and are likely in one form or another to sculpt aspects of the future.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.5 | Technology Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

To say that technology is changing things in a pervasive manner is almost cliché. Even in the spa world—a place that offers its guests a temporary escape from the tether of technology in their lives—technology has created new ways of doing things, from administrative tasks to retail sales to treatments both medical and traditional.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.6 | Treatment Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

At the heart of every spa are the treatments that are offered to guests. It is the treatment itself that guests come to the spa for.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.7 | Industry Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Some of the major changes in the spa industry have had to do with ownership structure, investor attractiveness, and spa mergers and consolidations. All three are indicators of a maturing industry. Spas are facing many of the challenges that more traditional businesses face while still keeping their focus on the mission that makes spas unique.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.8 | Environmental Trends

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Spa professionals are focusing more and more on activities extending well beyond the walls of their spa and the typical business goals. There is a continued return to the roots of spa, the roots where people see the spa as serving social purposes and improving the quality of life. This stems partly from more stringent government and legal requirements and partly from a feeling of social responsibility. 

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 4.9 | Developing a Future Orientation

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Part of survival—whether personal, spiritual, or business—is planning for what comes next and ensuring that one’s actions today are providing for the future. Today’s spas are flourishing and successful and in a perfect position to prepare for even greater things ahead. This is true both on the aggregate level of the spa world and the individual spa.

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 5 | The Spa Service Experience

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Service is so integral to what a spa does that many menus list treatments as services. A spa delivering poor service risks not staying in business for long. 

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 5.1 | Service and the Spa Experience

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Service is generally defined as “work done for others.” However, most people in the industry would impose a quality factor into that definition. There is an expectation that the service is done well and appropriately and even beyond that, quality service means exceeding the guests’ expectations. 

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Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction

Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 5.2 | Intangible Services Versus Tangible Products

Textbook | Category: Spa Operations

Management experts long ago learned that there are fundamental differences between the way that service businesses manage and market their services and the way that manufacturing businesses manage and market their products.

 

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