In a spa experience, it can often be the small yet meaningful gestures that clients really remember. From specially selected herbal teas to soothing aromatherapy scents, these extra touches can help to create a wellness journey that leaves clients refreshed, relaxed and excited to return.
Spa directors from some of the UK’s top spas – including some PB Awards winners – share their secrets to crafting the ultimate wellness journey.
Sarah Johnson, head of spa at Rudding Park, Harrogate
“Try completing your massage or facial therapy by sweeping a light dusting of magnesium powder to your guest’s feet, absorbing excess oil and boosting mineral levels.
“Dry your guest’s swimwear during their treatment – after a cosy massage, popping a warm and dry swimming costume back on rather than a wet and cold one is always well received.
“Utilise your thermal suite to offer new experiences. Aufguss, yoga, and herbal salt sessions are a great way to engage guests and create memorable experiences.”
Ashley Ashton, spa director, Rockliffe Hall, Darlington
“Here at Rockliffe, we find that adding finishing touches to a guest journey is paramount to creating memorable moments and adding surprise and delight to any experience. We look at ways to adapt our current processes by tweaking them.
“Using our relationship with our brand partner Comfort Zone, we create a welcome experience of a fabric bracelet with drops of their signature Tranquillity fragranced essential oil to start guests’ spa journey. The guest will then become familiar with this aroma when using our showers because the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are also Tranquillity, and when having their spa treatment, we begin the treatment touch with three deep breaths of Tranquillity.
“Partnering with Camellia’s Tea House, we provide a warmed tea at the end of all treatments, but also as an iced version if the guest wants to enjoy a poolside refreshment. We ensure that essential oils and wellbeing teas are available for the guest throughout their journey.”
Katrina Sutherland, owner of The Country Spa, Caithness
“I encourage all of my clients to arrive early or to stay after their appointment so that they can relax with a complimentary, refreshing herbal tea and enjoy some precious time to truly unwind and recharge.
“I also like to assess and treat the client for what they need, and not always entirely what they have booked. As therapists, we have access to wonderful products and treatments that clients are not always aware of, so if a client needs special attention in a particular area, then I will adapt what they have booked so that I can offer that service even if they haven’t requested it because I know it will enhance the feeling of wellness. This can be implemented for any treatment.
“For example, a client booked for a facial, but her hands were so sore that I added a warm hand treatment with Repêchage’s Hydra Dew Pure Elixir Balm while I performed her facial. This improved her overall wellbeing because she left the spa with a glowing complexion and comfortable hands.”
Gemma Barratt, group spa director at Daniel Thwaites
“Consider providing infused waters and herbal teas. Don’t take the good stuff away – everyone enjoys a latte – but make this the welcome drink and then let the guest go on their wellness journey with other refreshments throughout the day; find the balance.
“Quiet zones and relaxation rooms should be just that. Encourage guests to switch off and control noise levels. Asking someone to not go on their phone can actually be quite stressful for people these days because they struggle to just sit and let their mind rest, but you can encourage meditation, reading, sleep or listening to music on headphones. You could allow phones on silent, but no social media.
“We have opening and closing rituals for treatments, and adding a personal recommendation at the end of treatment – not just a product recommendation – is a great idea.
“Have someone within the spa who is available to talk to the guests – sometimes this is what a guest needs more than anything. A genuine farewell and desire to welcome guests back is key. Training for the team is essential but they should also feel that they can be themselves and let their natural personality shine through, allowing for real hospitality.”
Becky Woodhouse, founder and chief executive of Pure Spa and Beauty
“During our initial client consultations at Pure, we like to spend some time before each treatment to understand our clients’ needs a little better. To help build a clearer picture of their overall health and wellbeing, we’ll find out if there are any pre-existing health conditions, allergies, or scent preferences.
“We like to pair this initial conversation with our signature Pure foot ritual, which we created to help clients wind down from the outside world once they step into a Pure Spa. Our therapist will soak the client’s feet in a soothing, warming water bath to cleanse and soften the feet, after which they are scrubbed with a combination of the client’s preferred oil and our own Himalayan salt, packed with skin-healthy minerals.
“Some of our clients have said this signature foot ritual really helps set the tone, giving them an opportunity to slow down, gradually moving into a state of rest and relaxation ahead of their main treatment, be it a hot stone or vegan massage, while also giving them a chance to get comfortable with their therapist.”
Phil Murphy, managing director at Hoar Cross Hall, Staffordshire
“On arrival, our guests can enjoy an immune-boosting ginger and pineapple shot which provides powerful wellness support to soothe everyday digestive distress. At our refreshment stations we have infused water, including energy-boosting lemon and ginger, and balancing mango and passionfruit which is packed with antiinflammatories and antioxidants.
“Treatments begin with heated mitts which encompass the shape of the feet with pressure points that release tension, followed by foot rocking which opens the hips in order to balance, relax and ground the body.
“Our highly trained skincare specialists in our spa boutique are also able to provide tailored workshops specific for clients’ individual needs, from skincare concerns to wellness therapies to boost immune systems.”
Emma Pridding, spa director at The Spa at Carden, Cheshire
“We try to go above and beyond to offer many luxury touches to guests, including blankets and hot water bottles to keep warm in the winter months, then iced water and sun protection in the summer. Our spa ethos is to engage with customers and make each experience extra special.
“As part of giving back, we have opened our doors and over the past year provided several free ‘tea and therapy’ days for up to 16 people diagnosed and recovering from cancer, at the spa’s own expense.
“My tip to the industry is to always look with a fresh set of eyes and strive to achieve more.”