The evolution of the spa package and how to keep up

Spa packages are not what they used to be. Colleen Glaeser, owner of Karkloof Safari Villas & Spa in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, explains how to put your own spin on the evolved concept 

Guests are now looking for so much more from their spa experience when on holiday than just a treatment here and there. For the few hours they can relax and unwind, they want to truly experience tranquillity and become enveloped in their surroundings.

The strongest spas understand that it needs to be an experiential journey to rest and restoration. At Karkloof Safari Villas & Spa we make the most of our environment so guests can not only indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments but enjoy the wonders of nature at the same time.With our safari and spa packages, guests can start off with a massage, relax in the hydrotherapy area and enjoy a lunch out on the deck, as well as venture off the beaten track on safari. Traditional spa packages used to include a glass of champagne in between treatments, but now at a property like ours, they can experience something much more unique and special. 

Being in the bush and venturing into nature on safari is such a relaxing and calming experience that adding a spa experience to the mix was a natural fit. People are looking to escape the stresses of busy work schedules when they go away, and a spa day in the city doesn’t always lend itself to tranquillity. For us, a spa in nature offers a truly relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern-day living, and it’s a model other properties can use too when putting together spa packages with a twist – how can you create a truly restorative experience within your setting?

Karkloof safari

Work with what you've got

Coupling spa together with adventure-style activities gives our guests the best of both worlds, but for destinations like ours in the current wellness tourism market, it’s crucial that the spa element isn’t an afterthought. Our spa is an important part of who we are, and one of the main reasons we have become the destination we are today. The facilities are extensive and beautiful and not something often found outside of big cities. Being centred in natural beauty, wellness forms a core part of our ethos. 

We made sure every touch point caters to wellness and reminds guests of the power of nature, from the villas’ menu to the spa treatments. Every part of the journey with us lends itself to mindful practices. Built to embrace the natural environment, our spa’s 17 generous treatment rooms all have vistas over the native bush. 

Our core business is safari and that needs to be kept in mind when marketing the spa. Our strategy focuses on appealing to a niche group of guests who seek out this type of experience. This way, we often find that guests who come and stay at the villas love to visit the spa too, and those who come to the spa also want to venture through the magnificent reserve we call home. 

Something for everyone

We are fortunate in that locals enjoy venturing through the Kwa-Zulu Natal countryside and visiting us for a spa day. Just because you’re a destination resort, if there are locals nearby, day spa packages shouldn’t be forgotten. You don’t want to miss out by not catering to this type of guest. 

Even when altering the traditional spa package concept, you still need to carefully think about the different client groups you accommodate and what they want from their experience, offering flexibility to tailor the package wherever possible. We normally have two game drives a day – one in the morning and another in the afternoon – and so plan our guests’ safari and spa package itineraries based on this, but otherwise we are quite flexible with timings.

Owing to the game drive element, most of our spa packages are designed for two or more people to remain cost-effective for our business.Each of our six packages are different in their offering, speaking to a diverse mix of clients and allowing them to make their own decisions. Some may prefer to sit back and relax at the hydro area between treatments, while others love to venture off on a morning safari and spend the rest of the afternoon in the spa. Consider options that can meet everyone’s needs. 

Colleen Glaeser is the owner and managing director of Karkloof Safari Villas & Spa. She also holds senior positions at several software companies and is a motivational speaker. 

Images: photography by Chris Allan 

Get more advice on how to create memorable outdoor spa experiences here