Meeting the demand for spa wellness experiences
Gemma Barratt, group spa director for the Daniel Thwaites group, tells us about the £100,000 investment into the new relaxation area at Bristol’s Aztec Hotel & Spa.
When considering how the offering at the Aztec Hotel and Spa could be elevated to meet the rise in demand for wellness experiences post-Covid, the team decided to create a dedicated relaxation and wellbeing space for spa guests to sit down, relax and take time to be in the moment.
Working with interior designer Rachel Wootton to create a calming space while keeping the room consistent with the rest of the spa area, the project, which took around eight weeks to complete, officially opened in March, 2022.
Pedicure area design inspiration
“It’s not just a space for relaxation, as the lounge also houses the spa’s mani-pedi stations.
“We have three mani-pedi stations in the Relax Lounge,” explains Barratt. “They used to be part of the four treatment rooms but it’s now in a dedicated space within the lounge.
“This area has different flooring as well.”
The mani-pedi stations offer a space for spa guests to socialise, as many guests come to enjoy the spa facilities together.
“Having the stations in one space means visitors who came as a group can still spend quality time together while having their treatments,” adds Barratt.
Relaxing spa lighting
In the age of Instagram, we all know how important lighting is for a selfie, but it can also change the mood of the room.
The spa has pre-set lighting settings across its treatment rooms and the relax lounge so the therapists can keep the lighting consistent across the spa.
“In the treatment rooms, there’s a welcome light input for when the guests are having their consultation, which changes to a warm and dark treatment light during the treatment to help clients relax. When it’s coming to the end of their treatment we switch on a ‘wake up’ light,” says Barratt.
“The Relax Lounge also has different light settings for different times of day or events.
“Lighting and music make a real difference.”
Turning a spa into an event space
The Relax Lounge provides more than an area for spa guests to take a moment and can be used by the spa and hotel as event space.
“We held the launch event in the lounge and changed the lighting and music. The guests could mingle in the lounge and go off to have manicures and pedicures or mini treatments,” says Barratt.
The lounge was deliberately built with movable furniture to adapt to the clients using the space. “We can always accommodate people if they want to sit in a large group or move things about to make the event space. We plan on having more events on evenings we won’t be taking treatments.”
Successful spa retail
“Retail can bring in a lot of money for spas when done right, but it can be hard to find the balance between making products accessible and retaining the relaxing spa feel.
“Our retail space isn’t like a shop – there’s not a load of products lined up on shelves. We actually store a lot of our retail products in a hidden area, and if someone wants to make a purchase the spa host will go and get the products for them,” explains Barratt.
The spa has small tables with a few products out, inviting guests to try. “It’s very touchy-feely. After a treatment, guests will have recommendations from their therapist and can come to the round tables to try out the products, or head to the Beauty Station to look in the mirror while applying them to see how it sits on their skin.”
Keeping spa guests hydrated
It’s extremely important for spa guests to stay hydrated – especially when they’re in and out of saunas and steam rooms. Many spas, including Aztec, offer complimentary drinks and snacks.
“It’s a nice bonus for guests – we replenish it constantly, so food isn’t left sitting out and it stays fresh. It also gives guests less to think about – they don’t have to go and order food and wait for a bill, it’s all included.”
The offering is a new addition, brought in as part of the refurbishment. “When we started planning the lounge, we asked ourselves what was missing. The spa guests had a section where they could grab a coffee but it was missing that luxury feel that the new area has.”
How do you provide wellness experiences in your spa? Let us know in the comments...