Brand That Spa! Trendy Offerings Spread Across Chains

(Originally published Sept. 26, 2005)

The biggest spa trend among hotel companies these days is to develop an in-house spa brand that can be offered at multiple sites and destinations. To accomplish this, chains either are forming partnerships with existing well-known spa companies, or are creating spa brands of their own.

"In the past, hotels built spas because they had to have one in order to attract guests," said spa industry consultant Glenn Colarossi. "There wasn't much expectation that the spa would be a profit center. But now that every hotel has a spa, hotels want to differentiate their spas and make them profitable."

Among the leaders in this practice is Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which is introducing the Bliss spa brand at selected W Hotels and the Remède spa brand at certain St. Regis hotels.

Meanwhile, Wyndham Hotels, which began opening Golden Door spas at several resorts a few years ago, recently announced the creation of a new spa brand called Sasura that it plans to implement at hotels throughout the company.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts continues to bring Willow Stream, its in-house spa brand, to additional properties, and has formed a spa management training partnership between Willow Stream and Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. And Noble House Hotels & Resorts not only is expanding its in-house brand, SpaTerre, to additional Noble House properties, but has recently signed spa management agreements with hotels outside the company.

While Colarossi sees some operational advantages in hotel-branded spas, he also sees some potential pitfalls.

"Spa brands make for consistency, but hotel guests often want a unique experience," he said. "The spa needs to be tailored to the location. It should not be a cookie-cutter operation."

According to Patrick Colee, chairman of Seattle-based Noble House, the creation of the SpaTerre brand, currently at nine of the 12 Noble House properties, has been well received by meeting planners and guests.

"We feel it offers guests a consistency of service, but beyond that it has enabled us to run better spas," he said. "We now have nine spa directors who get together and keep each other up to date about what's happening in the spa world. It means better training and more expertise."

Earlier this year, Noble House added SpaTerre facilities to three properties in Florida, including the Grove Isle Resort in Miami. While the spas offer similar products and treatments, they also maintain their own style and atmosphere.

The 6,000-square-foot Grove Isle facility features an Asian-inspired décor along with seven treatment rooms, a meditation area, a salon, a Watsu pool with waterfall, and outdoor massage areas with bay views.

Another new SpaTerre is at The Shores Resort, formerly the Hilton Daytona Beach, which opened in March after a $20 million renovation. The spa facility offers five treatment rooms, a salon and fitness center. The other new SpaTerre is at the Ocean Key Resort in Key West, a 2,550-square-foot facility with six treatment rooms, a salon and a fitness center.

Several Bliss spas are opening at W hotels this year and next, the result of Starwood's 2004 purchase of the Bliss Spa and Toiletries Co., a company that runs fashionable day spas in New York and London.

The first opened in January at the W New York, a 23,000-square-foot facility with 17 treatment rooms, a grooming studio, steam showers and overnight Spa Lofts.

Next to come was a 5,000-square-foot Bliss spa at the W San Francisco, which opened in July with eight treatment rooms, a beauty boutique and heated outdoor terraces.

In October, the third Bliss spa will open on the eighth floor of the W Chicago–Lakeside, offering 16 treatment rooms and lounges with expansive views of Lake Michigan. Additional Bliss spas are set for W hotels in Dallas and Los Angeles next year.

Starwood's purchase of Bliss, which included the Labratoire Remède brand of skincare products, was the inspiration for pairing its new Remède spa brand with selected St. Regis hotels. Guests at the spas are able to order champagne, truffles and other luxurious items off a gourmet menu.

The first Remède opened in December at the St. Regis Resort, Aspen, while the second was scheduled to open this month at the St. Regis Hotel, New York.

The new St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco will include a Remède Spa when the property opens in November. Another Remède Spa is scheduled to debut at the new St. Regis Fort Lauderdale and Residences next spring.

Finally, Wyndham's new Sasura brand is a scaled-down or "boutique" version of the Golden Door spa brand that the company acquired several years ago. More intimate in size, the Sasura spas will feature some signature Golden Door treatments as well as some that are unique to the brand.

The first Sasura opened in July at the Wyndham Buttes Resort, Tempe, Ariz., with more set for selected properties over the next 10 years.