Author Archive

How Do You Make Your Retail Area Stand Out?

By Guest Blogger | Sep 28, 2010

“When presenting our retail area to guests, we always use well-lit space. Whether a beautiful custom display case or a niche in a wall, we want the retail to really pop. We find lighting the products attracts attention, and we support the lighting by presenting colorful and unique packaging for our products. A bright and cheerful color stands out under the lighting and attracts guests to the displays. Lastly, we always have a featured product for the day, and guests are encouraged to sample it. Through combining these techniques, our retail space has become an excellent source of added revenue.”—Jaime Milanick, spa director, The Spa at Hammock Beach Resort (Palm Coast, FL)

Blissed Out at Banyan Tree Sanya

By Guest Blogger | Sep 15, 2010

I was fortunate to visit the Banyan Tree, Sanya (China), as they had kindly agreed to host a one-day spa management conference for Wynne Business. This beautiful property is comprised of a huge and dramatic pavilion/lobby with open-air restaurants and bars on several levels and winding walkways leading to the 49 villas. After a day of teaching, I was looking forward to enjoying a spa service at one of the largest spas in the region.

My treatment began with the Hydrotherapy Experience circuit of water treatments, one of only two in the entire Banyan Tree chain and certainly the most elaborate water amenity area in Hainan—in fact, the resort won an award for this very feature at the Spa China Awards earlier that week. To begin, my Thai therapist, Kitty helped me into a sarong. The first step is the Rain Shower Corridor, a succession of five different showers in a tiled hallway; you step under each one in succession, and enjoy the varying pressures and sprays. This step lasts a few minutes, and you are now fully drenched. Next, Kitty escorted me into a Thai Herbal Steam chamber, a completely tiled room where she had set up a towel on a bench for me. Once she had me settled in the warm, fragrant steam, she brought me a bottle of cold water and a washcloth encrusted with ice. She also left me with a Tibetan chime and instructed me to ring it when I was ready to move to the next step. The next step was a Swiss shower and the Warm Dip Pool. After a relaxing soak in the hot bubbling water, I moved to the Spa Jet Pool, which was temperate water and also had four hydro-massage jets arcing out of the wall above the level of the water, so you could position yourself for a nice head, neck, and shoulder massage.

After these soaks, I was escorted to the Hammam room. While it was designed with a belly stone in the center, it was more of a steam room with tiled seating around the sides. When I was finished steaming, Kitty escorted me to the warm shower. After this final cleansing, I changed into a robe and slippers and sat in the relaxation area, sipping tea and gazing at the water wall. Now it was time to move onto the hands-on portion of the treatment, so Kitty escorted me outside to the treatment villas, of which there are eight ringing a small lake. Each Villa has two separate treatment suites, each containing a large treatment room with two tables, a shower, a toilet, a seating area, and another adjoining room which houses either two vichy tables or a Thai massage mat. The two sides of each Villa are connected by a kitchen/dispensary containing all of the back-of-house needs. The back wall of the villa is floor to ceiling glass, covered with sheer curtains, with the option of black-out curtains as well. There is also a large outdoor tub, set into the waters of the lake, which is reached by a few stepping stones. The treatment rooms are named for local flowers, such as chrysanthemum and osmanthus.

Kitty seated me in a comfortable chair, which was surrounded by orchids. She offered me a beverage, and then I was shown a tray of seven  different varieties of incense and I was able to choose the one that I wanted (bergamot). My treatment began with a relaxing footbath, after which Kitty escorted me onto one of the treatment tables. She performed a full body scrub, and then let me relax while she prepared a shower. After rinsing, I returned to the table for an incredibly relaxing Balinese massage. In the Thai fashion, Kitty’s size belied her strength; she performed a complete body massage, scalp massage, then massage of each of my feet, with a combination of effleurage and pressure points, actually climbing onto the table and using her body weight on occasion, and after two hours of working on me, did not appear to be the least bit tired. She was warm and gracious throughout, regularly inquiring as to my comfort and needs. After the service was completed, she again seated me in the comfy chair and brought me a bowl of chopped fruit with some yogurt to pour over it, a delicious snack which I enjoyed as she neatened up the treatment room.

Spa Director Annie Jiang and her team are very well-trained and prepared to deliver the ultimate in guest care. After my service, I was so relaxed I asked for one of the ubiquitous electric buggies to drive me back to my villa so I could melt by my personal pool. The Banyan Tree Sanya definitely provided a high-quality, polite, and friendly staff and spectacular property, and I hope to return in the future.—Written by Lisa Starr, who is in China to attend the China Spa Summit

How Do You Make Your Retail Area Stand Out?

By Guest Blogger | Sep 13, 2010

“Here at The Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda, we have been very successful so far this year and have increased our retail sales by 65 percent over last year. When it comes to retail, I think the basics are most important. You need to have clean, neatly organized shelves everyday. You need to ensure all of your retail items are restocked daily. Simple things like items missing a price tag could result in a lost sale. Product testers on the retail shelf also play an important role, as customers like to touch, feel, and smell the products they are interested in. Here at the Willow Stream Spa, we like to give an added touch of personalized service. Following each spa experience, our therapists will place a small tray in the retail area with products personally chosen for each client. Retail areas can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating with lots of products from which to choose. The personalized retail trays make it easy for customers to find the products recommended for their needs. Finally, success comes from creating a retail culture within the spa team. Retail needs to be talked about everyday and encouraged with all staff members. Also, be sure to celebrate your successes.—Kenneth Ryan, executive director, Spa & Leisure Operations, Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Southampton (Bermuda)

How Do You Make Your Retail Area Stand Out?

By Guest Blogger | Sep 2, 2010

“Our savvy guests desire products that are clean for the earth while also luxurious and results oriented, so we feature the local Vapour Organic Beauty makeup line, the El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa private label, Naturopathica eco-certified facial skincare, and SpaRitual vegan nailcare. Guests can also take the healing aspects of our spa home with them. Our signature Sagrado High Desert Body Treatment features a locally produced Living Spa exclusive product available in our retail store that infuses the essence of cedar and sage oils, reminiscent of Taos after a summer rain.”—Monica Munoz, spa director, The Living Spa at El Monte Sagrado (Taos, NM)

Mandarin Oriental Sanya Spa Soothes and Impresses

By Guest Blogger | Sep 2, 2010

What’s the best solution for jet lag? Why, a few hours in a spa, of course! After a 30-hour journey to Sanya on Hainan Island, China, I checked into the Mandarin Oriental Sanya, overlooking the South China Sea, and headed to the spa for some rejuvenation. Like all Mandarin properties, this one does not disappoint. The level of training and attention to detail are evident immediately.

Guests arriving at the spa are escorted to a seating area and offered a refreshment. Then, the front desk staff comes to you, and reviews your service options. I had booked a two-hour Time Ritual, which is a signature service at this resort. The Time Ritual is just that; you book an amount of time, and then what you do during that time is customized on the day of your visit, according to your immediate needs. This is certainly much easier to accomplish when the therapist is able to perform body treatments, massages and facials. I was escorted to the private spa suite, of which there are 16 at this property. As is common in Asia, the spa suite is a self-contained unit with bathroom, steam shower, changing area, greeting area, and treatment area. Upon entering, I was seated on a banquette and was treated to a foot and lower leg scrub and bath by my Balinese therapist, Geria. My treatment began with a Pearl Powder and Rice Milk body scrub. I then enjoyed a 10-minute steam and shower and returned to the table for a full-body massage. Geria’s expert hands had me feeling “like buttah” in no time. The treatment ended with a mini-facial, using products from Aromatherapy Associates. I must admit that, as a client, it’s enjoyable to have one person be able to perform all of the services without having to get up and move to another room. However, the facial is not done in the way we would consider standard in the west; there is no mag lamp, steamer, or any other equipment used, just the skilled hands of the therapist. So while there are no extractions or what we might consider serious professional skincare, the massage felt great and my skin was glowing.

Upon completion of the service, I put on my robe and enjoyed a cup of ginger tea while Geria busied herself straightening up. I chatted a bit with Geria, who was open with me since she knew I was a spa professional. She has three kids in Bali, but can’t get therapist work there because she does not have a university degree. So she leaves her kids with her husband and lives here in Sanya in a company-owned dormitory; she is able to go home for a visit once a year for three weeks. Makes a one-hour commute seem attractive.

The spa treatment areas are woven through open pavilions with comfortable seating areas and beautiful flagstone pathways, which float on channels of water. But unfortunately, it’s too hot and humid to sit outside. Geria escorted me back to the reception area, where I was offered more refreshments. Settling your bill is discreetly done in a separate small room, which has a retail display and a desk. I say retail display; there are shelves with small collections of products, but the overall impression is more that of a collection of objects than a store. As is common in many five-star properties, if you want to purchase retail products you need to say so. But all in all, it was a terrific experience. Other than the outdoor relaxation areas, there is no real “spa” area to hang out in, but that’s okay, because my room is so nice I’m going to return there and utilize the huge bathtub that adjoins my balcony, while enjoying the sounds of the sea.

—By Lisa Starr, who is in China to attend the Spa China Summit. Check out the blog for more on her experiences there.

Signing Off: Leo

By Guest Blogger | Aug 2, 2010

“Leos (July 23-August 22) exude their warm-hearted nature to everyone around them and also love when others shine their attention on them. Spas are one of their favorite places; they love to lap up luxury, be pampered, and feel like the queen or king that they are. Energetic in nature and often burning both ends of the candle because of all of the activities in which they engage, Lions also know when what they need is to relax. As Leo is a fire sign, they are often drawn to heat and experiences that inspire the passion that resides within.”—Stephanie Gailing

Stephanie Gailing, MS, CN, is a professional astrologer and nutritionist with more than 16 years of experience. The author of Planetary Apothecary: An Astrological Approach to Health and Wellness (Crossing Press, 2009), Gailing writes “Signing Off,” a monthly column for American Spa that gives guidance on using the stars to cater to clientele. To check out Gailing’s blog, click For further insights on Cancers, turn to page 96 of American Spa’s July issue or click here.

How Do You Think Spas Can Improve Their Skincare Menus to Give Their Clients More Value?

By Guest Blogger | Jul 27, 2010

“One suggestion is to have a separate menu for men’s and teen’s skin treatments. The spas I have advised on this simple but effective approach have noted higher activity with respect to these two important client demographics to boost their clientele. Another suggestion is to have a smaller menu printed for these two categories, which you can then hand out to your female clients to take home to their husbands, boyfriends, teens, friends, and co-workers. The point is to get your message out to as many individuals about the treatments your spa offers. And what better way is there? Think about how you take a food menu home or to the office and order accordingly because it is so convenient and right there at your disposal. It makes total marketing sense that can translate into dollar cents.”—Christine Heathman, CEO, president, and founder, Glymed Plus Skincare

What Are Some of the Most Effective Ways You’ve Managed to Improve Customer Service?

By Guest Blogger | Jul 6, 2010

“Spa Mirbeau’s staff is committed to providing professional and personalized service that exceeds our guests’ expectations. We maintain a detailed guest history, which includes preferences on beverages, products, therapists, and treatments; escort every guest when possible; and anticipate the guest’s needs with an ‘offering before being asked’ approach to service. We also provide testers with brief demos for all spa products that are carried in our retail store. Operationally, the spa managers and supervisors conduct daily role-playing sessions with our staff to ensure that their comfort level is to a point where all service steps are delivered in a comfortable and natural manner. Training alone can inform your staff on what to do, but if the delivery is awkward then it undermines the effort made to exceed the guest’s expectations.”—Chris Pulito, general manager, Mirbeau Inn & Spa (Skaneateles, NY)

What Are Some of the Most Effective Ways You’ve Managed to Improve Customer Service?

By Guest Blogger | Jul 1, 2010

“The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples maintains excellent customer service by instilling in our team the importance of our Ritz-Carlton credo: ‘….the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.’ I believe continuous education is the most important ingredient to a successful and aligned team. It provides consistency in service and instills in each employee an understanding of wellness and balance. Throughout the year, we bring in a variety of experts, from a professional development coach to wellness gurus and spa management consultants to ensure that each member of our spa team never stops learning, and in turn, our guests receive first class service.”—Michelle Kelthy, spa director, The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples (FL)

Signing Off: Gemini

By Guest Blogger | Jun 2, 2010

“Geminis (May 21-June 21), the butterflies of the zodiac. graciously flit through life seeking the facts, figures, and details that can help them collect and share knowledge. With a deep curiosity and wide attention span, adaptable Geminis are generalists rather than specialists. They appreciate a smorgasbord of stimuli—focusing in on one area for too long leads to boredom, which is the bane of their existence.”—Stephanie Gailing

Stephanie Gailing, MS, CN, is a professional astrologer and nutritionist with more than 16 years of experience. The author of Planetary Apothecary: An Astrological Approach to Health and Wellness (Crossing Press, 2009), Gailing writes “Signing Off,” a monthly column for American Spa that gives guidance on using the stars to cater to clientele. To check out Gailing’s blog, click For further insights on Geminis, turn to page 96 of American Spa’s June issue or click here.

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