Spa spending |

4 mins

Spa spending

Thermal features and pools are key to spas in 2023, but rising energy costs are making them more expensive to run. Lollie Hancock finds out how to cut costs without compromising on quality

The rise in interest in wellness coupled with the cost-of-living crisis has placed spas in a difficult position, as what would seemingly be the ideal time to invest in more thermal and water features comes with a high initial price tag and ongoing operating costs that could affect your business. For many, plans for expansions and upgrades were put in place long before the current cost-ofliving crisis. As a result, many spas have undergone major construction and refurbishments, meaning their offering is centred around features that come with costly upkeep and bills. Add in the need to become more sustainable, and spas can be left in a tight position.

Spa consultant Nicki Kurran expands, explaining, “Spas are notoriously high in energy consumption and while many already focus on being sustainable and aim to minimise their impact on the environment, the rising cost of utilities is making energy-saving measures even more essential to ensure businesses can continue to trade.”

But what can be done to help keep costs down without lowering standards?

Case study: Hoar Cross Hall

Staffordshire’s Hoar Cross Hall is a finalist in the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2023 Sustainable Spa of the Year category. Its two most impactful sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) revolve around its usage of energy and water. The spa monitors energy consumption monthly and can compare this with previous years.

The spa has outlined plans to implement biomass as an oil replacement for heating, using wood byproducts of timber manufacturing from the local National Forest. This renewable, sustainable source of energy is expected to allow the spa to reduce its carbon emissions for heating by over 95%.

Start with the build

Spas can begin to investigate energy saving from before they even start the build, working with contractors to create beautiful yet cost-effective elements.

“For new builds, renewable energy sources are looked into during the early stages of the project, with expert mechanical and electrical consultants advising on the best options for the particular needs of the business,” explains Kurran.

“This is why it is imperative to have operational experts as a part of the project team, so the operational needs are fully understood by everyone.”

Splitting your spa into “zones” is another great way to keep on top of costs, as well as allowing you to create a clear spa journey.

“I have worked on two projects where the design was zoned so the spa could open in sections as the business required. Energy saving was not the main driver for this decision, but those properties can use the space zoning for energy management now,” explains Kurran.

“On one project, both treatment rooms and hotel bedrooms were designed in blocks and whole blocks could be closed without impacting the journey around the property. In the other, we were able to use the zoning to lock down areas within the spa for private use by VIP clients and groups who wanted a private experience.”


“Operationally, one of the most frequently suggested methods for existing spas to cut energy costs is to turn down the temperature of pools,” shares Kurran.

While this may sound like an easy win because the volume of water in swimming pools is significant, it’s not always that simple, as Kurran explains: “Before doing this, the impact of the guest experience needs to be carefully considered. If you believe the pool water can be lowered without compromising your guests’ experience, then do it slowly and just by half a degree at a time.

“You may be surprised how different just one degree can feel, and raising the temperature back up once it has been lowered will use more energy and take time.”

Kurran advises starting outside the pool itself, suggesting that you look at whether you are managing the pool hall air temperature effectively. “The air should be slightly higher than your water temperature,” she explains. “So ensure there are no draughts or doors being left open, impacting on the air temperature, and indirectly using more energy to warm the pool water.”

To manage heat loss, particularly out of hours, Kurran recommends considering liquid pool covers, which slow evaporation from the water’s surface, and using pool covers at night so that you can reduce the air temperature out of hours.

Kurran also reviews hydrothermal spa area usage on a seasonal basis. “This time of year, when the mornings are still dark, there are less early risers visiting spas, so maybe opening facilities an hour later until spring is an option,” she suggests. “If evenings can be quiet, close facilities earlier on the quietest evening and promote twilight spa visits on the others to increase use on those days.”

Case study: Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa

Also a WSW Awards Sustainable Spa of the Year finalist, Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa in Wiltshire has reduced its gas and electricity bill by 42% since February 2019 by implementing a number of small changes to make a big difference.

From removing gas from the kitchen in favour of induction to installing all LED lighting, small changes have led to bills being cut almost in half.

Within the spa itself, the team has moved to Ecoknit towels and robes, which has reduced laundry energy consumption by 40%.

In addition, shower water consumption has been reduced by 20% thanks to the installation of Aquardio technology and flow-restricted showerheads.

This article appears in February 2023

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This article appears in...
February 2023
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