Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction
The modern spa era saw spas shift from their ancient medical and spiritual emphasis to today’s corporate model that primarily focuses on beauty, fitness, and wellness. While wellness and relaxation have always been the cornerstones of a spa’s holistic experience, the historical European model had come to emphasize taking the waters and retreating to pastoral and natural setting for weeks and even months at a time. Food was luxurious and abundant, and doctors routinely recommended spas as a way to cleanse and heal the body away from the rigors of everyday urban life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While spas are a service business by classic definition, consumers today want more than just services. Now, consumers are looking for an experience that is memorable and lasting.
In Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore, the authors explain that an experience can engage guests in a number of dimensions.
The bottom line for spas is delivering on the promise that a spa makes to its owners, employees, and guests.
Every spa will offer its own unique experience to its guests just as every guest will participate in a unique experience at every visit.
A menu of spa services can be confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the terminology used to describe the array of treatments available. However, a look into the traditions from which the treatments come, their countries of origin, or the people who developed techniques can shed light on the unique language found within a spa.
Spa treatments come from all over the world and have been developed over the centuries by people from many cultures, religions, and medical perspectives. Many modern spa therapies have their origins in one or more of the long-standing traditions described below.