The Harrogate Spa: a destination spa offering authentic wellness
There’s a new kid on the wellness block breaking the mould and making its mark – The Harrogate Spa, which soft opened at the DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic Hotel in November 2019.
The business is a shining example of how spa and hotel can work together to create a wellness experience for customers that benefits both departments. “We’re the only building in the centre of town that can facilitate this amount of space for a spa, which is one of our USPs,” says spa director Lynn Roach.
“Harrogate has such a rich spa history – [bathing in the town’s mineral waters was part of a daily routine prescribed by doctors in the 19thcentury] – so we wanted to bring wellness back to the area in an authentic way.”
What facilities does it have?
The 12,838sq ft spa is situated in the heart of the historic spa town Harrogate, offering traditional and advanced treatments as well as an extensive thermal suite, with an indoor pool, Himalayan salt sauna, steam room, rasul, ice fountain and experience shower.
It has six treatment rooms, including two doubles, 16 staff and a menu of professional treatments from brands Carita, Espa, Jessica, Technogym and Thalgo.
What is the spa's USP?
Although Roach thought about incorporating the town’s unique waters into the spa, the concept was a better idea on paper than in reality. “We looked at using Harrogate’s healing waters but it’s very high in sulphur and the smell isn’t compatible with the aromas we wanted,” she explains.
The spa has instead focused on offering an environment that brings the outside in, helping clients to reconnect with nature, which is a big trend now.
In the main area, large glass windows let clients enjoy the town’s beautiful architecture and green landscapes, while the treatment rooms feature rich green and brown colour schemes, and rituals formulated with botanical and algae ingredients.
“People are so busy that they struggle to unwind, which is why we wanted to focus on the earth’s elements because nature grounds you,” says Roach.
But the biggest nature feature at the spa will be the zen garden, which is opening in the first quarter of 2020, along with the glass elevator at the spa entrance. The garden will be filled with plants, day beds and water features, and there will also be a terrace area with an array of seating so clients can dine outside.
Why does it have a membership model?
“I put together a business plan which said, ‘if we had X amount of treatment rooms and a membership model with a structure like Y, then we would be able to make this much return on investment’. The owners listened to my ideas, believed in me and gave me the financial support to get the job done, which is amazing.”
The model intricately blends the spa and hotel operations, thinking of “the business as a whole, which I think is missed in the industry sometimes,” she explains. For example, Roach is working with the events team to create half- and full-day spa packages that utilise the hotel’s restaurant and bar facilities too, making it a “joint experience”.
Although hotel guests can enjoy the spa facilities for a small fee of £15–£25, a big chunk of revenue will come from exclusive memberships. “Before we opened the spa, the hotel had a membership model where clients could use the gym, so we had to keep that. This base is our bread and butter because it takes care of our facility charges,” explains Roach.
The new membership model costs £85 per month for off-peak use and £105 per month for unrestricted use of the gym and spa facilities, as well as giving members 15% off treatments. At the moment, the business has 70 members and is planning to cap it at 400.
“We’re very conscious of not overcrowding the spa which is why we’ve limited the membership model and decided to charge hotel guests to use the facilities,” explains Roach.
“Once we’ve reached this target then we will strategically open the door to day spa guests to further increase revenue, while always monitoring the footfall.”
How much did it cost to build?
Although the hotel originally set aside a budget of £500,000 for the spa build, which started in February 2019, Roach says the final spend is now closer to £2 million.
“The owners are good business people and they really listened to me when I told them what I thought the space should be – i.e. the feel, layout and ethos.”
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