Member Perspectives: Viva Las Vegas
by Jamison Stoike

Some call it Sin City. at ISPA, We call it Spa City.

Las Vegas is home to staggering number of world-class spas, making it a perfect home for the 2019 ISPA Conference & Expo. In advance of this year’s event, Pulse is spotlighting three ISPA members representing three different slices of the Las Vegas spa market. Canyon Ranch spa + fitness at Venetian Resort Las Vegas is a massive spa for a massive hotel, providing endless amenities for hundreds of spa-goers daily. At the other end of the Strip, Four Seasons Las Vegas caters to those travelers seeking a quieter, boutique on-Strip experience. And to understand what it’s like off the Strip, we’re taking a look at Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa, who cater primarily to a local clientele.

Canyon Ranch is one of the most well-known names in our industry and a prominent worldwide leader in spa, and their spa within The Venetian Las Vegas—Canyon Ranch spa + fitness—has size and amenities in accordance with the name.

“We have two gyms, a thirty-foot rock wall, two restaurants in the spa and one in the Grand Canal Shoppes, nutritionists on staff,” says Deirdre Strunk, vice president of spa, fitness and beauty. And she wasn’t finished, either. Inside this 134,000-square-foot spa—
that’s greater than the area of two American football fields—spa-goers can also expect to find four locker rooms, an herbal laconium, experiential showers, a salt grotto, a conservatory, sauna, steam room, relaxation lounges and 100 treatment rooms, plus a cadre of teachers, instructors and trainers.

Staffing this space are more than 400 team members, of whom approximately 225 are service providers.

Strunk sums it up nicely: “It’s a one-stop shop. We’re everything under one roof.” The scale of Canyon Ranch spa + fitness, obviously, serves as a major selling point of the spa. “We have a lot of flexibility because of our scale,” says Strunk. “We do a group every year that organizes 1,000 treatments in a day… we’ve done a 500-person boot camp, a 500-person yoga session. We have the ability to build customized full-wellness programs, not just massages or facials.”

Canyon Ranch spa + fitness serves both The Palazzo and The Venetian Resort, which combined are the secondlargest hotel in the world. The majority of the spa’s guests come from the hotel, and business is particularly busy during Las Vegas’s ‘convention season’ from January to May. When business slows down, especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Strunk will drive bookings by engaging with the spa’s local clientele. Local clients receive a year-round discount, but Strunk will\ increase the discount during certain periods and push out the news via an email database of local spa-goers.

Given Canyon Ranch spa + fitness’s ties to Canyon Ranch’s Tucson and Lenox locations, it’s no surprise that cuisine is important to the spa experience. The spa’s recently renamed café, Truth and Tonic, will offer healthy café food and on-tap kombucha. Meanwhile, the flagship Canyon Ranch Grill features a seasonal menu. “People come from all over, even other hotels, because they want to get a healthy meal,” Strunk says, adding that they offer many vegan options and use only organic ingredients.

From traditional massages to advanced hydrotherapy and fresh spa cuisine, Canyon Ranch spa + fitness aims to provide its guests with a top-to-bottom approach to wellness.

At the south end of the Strip, next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, you’ll find Four Seasons Las Vegas, offering 400 rooms to guests seeking a mixture of on- and off-Strip experiences. According to Spa Director Shannon Mariani, the hotel’s relatively boutique experience is a major drawing point for its guests, as is the legendary Four Seasons reputation.

These discerning hotel guests comprise the majority of the customers at the hotel’s spa, which has 13 treatment rooms and 14,000-square-feet of space. The spa’s small size affords it some unique privileges; for example, the spa has total control of its own retail and does all of its buying, which Mariani says “is one of the more unique things about us.” Guests come to her spa seeking a more tranquil experience, which—given the absence of a casino—is easy to attain. The lack of a casino has also made the spa successful with locals who might typically avoid the Strip; locals comprise a moderate amount of business for the Four Seasons’ spa, and local customers receive a 20 percent discount year-round as well as more aggressive discounts during the holiday season.

Given her spa’s unique positioning as a boutique, casinoless on-Strip experience, Mariani markets her spa through a unique, staff-centric message. “My employees are my bells and whistles,” says Mariani, “they’re the ones that make the experience unique, and so we try to tell our customers about that story.” At present, Four Seasons Las Vegas is seeing the most success through Instagram, which Mariani attributes to the visual nature of the platform: “you’re able to see exactly what you’ll get when you come in for a
treatment.” To help increase local business, Four Seasons Las Vegas also advertises in several of Las Vegas’s local magazines.

The strong reputation of Four Seasons’ working environment has further helped the spa retain its employees, even in a highly competitive local labor market. The spa still has employees who were hired when the spa opened in 1999, plus many more employees who have transferred from another Four Seasons location. Overall, Mariani cites a very positive work environment as the main reason people stay, although she did make particular note of Four Seasons “Comp Nights”—which employees can use to stay complimentary at other Four Seasons properties—as a powerful incentive for employees to stay. Says Mariani, “You get to travel and stay at five-star properties in amazing locations all over the world for free…I’m convinced that people don’t leave the company after they go on their first trip!”

Of course, there’s more to Vegas than the Strip. Step beyond the tourist areas and you’ll find a city with more than two million residents who work, live and relax year-round in Sin City. Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa, located six miles southeast of the Strip in Henderson, Nevada, caters to a primarily local clientele despite being located in a hotel.

“A strong seventy percent of our clientele is local, thirty percent are hotel guests,” says Director of Spa and Salon Jane Cox. For Cox, who spent 18 years working at spas on the Strip, this represents a major change. “It’s more of a family feel… we’re able to work with our locals on a regular basis,” she says. A key aspect of Green Valley Ranch’s strategy is its membership program—something you’ll only find off-strip, says Cox—which it uses to build its local clientele and encourage frequent visits.

Due to the local-heavy customer ratio, the spa’s marketing functions independently from the resort’s, although sometimes their timing and messages align. When marketing towards hotel guests, Cox says that the spa does “in-room advertising, and we try to touch the guest before they arrive through the reservation process.” For locals, Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa often advertises in local luxury magazines and maintains frequent contact via e-blasts.

Green Valley Ranch’s spa is 40,000-square feet, comprising 23 treatment rooms and the usual mix of non-coed and coed saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and lounges. The spa’s ace in the hole, according to Cox, is its outdoor pool that is accessible to spa patrons only, a relative rarity in the Las Vegas spa scene. Green Valley Ranch serves food and beverage poolside, which allows guests to “have a full day’s experience: relax, enjoy a treatment, have lunch by the pool,” says Cox.

Much like Four Seasons Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa bills itself as a more boutique and personal experience. “I think that guests want more of a personal feel from the moment they valet their vehicle,” Cox notes, “that’s what we excel at: making the members feel like they’re a part of our family.

“We recently had a guest who was out for a month after a knee surgery, so we called him and checked in to see how he was doing. It really makes a difference when your spa calls you to make sure you’re okay,” adds Cox. “I think in today’s society we want to feel special, we want to feel a connection.”