A journey outside the comfort zone at a psychedelic-assisted therapy retreat.
Before COVID-19 upended the industry, all types of spas were thriving in Canada, riding a swelling wave of consumer interest in health and wellness. To remain relevant in this rolling ocean of competition, especially during uncertain times, spa owners need to focus on expanding value for their clients. Many spas have seen an immediate uptick in revenue after making a few small changes to their business, which can be as simple as adding a new service or putting a “perks” plan into place.
Mia Mackman, managing director at HVS Spa & Wellness Consulting, explains, “While skincare and massage services make up the majority of traditional treatments, as an industry, it’s time to raise the bar when it comes to solely offering conventional amenities and services.” She notes that some powerful options are programs that support personal development and transformation, such as alternative therapies and healthy living strategies – services built around mind, body and spirituality. “Altogether these aspects are fixed to the fervour surrounding well-being. They also epitomize new opportunities for growth,” Mackman says.
A holistic approach was embraced by one of Canada’s award-winning hotel spas, Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. The spa features acclaimed skincare products, including Kerstin Florian’s botanical-based luxury line. “Willow Stream Spa curated an entire wellness menu of treatments and signature experiences, and complements those with exceptional luxury-focused service,” explains spa director Jordan Daw.
Customizing spa treatments by using unique natural and local ingredients enhances the customer experience, a technique that spas like Willow Stream leverage to set themselves apart. Daw explains, “Bespoke offerings that include a body treatment that uses fresh seaweeds from the nearby Salish Sea, and facials that include organic honey from the hotel’s hives, cannot be replicated anywhere else.”
One of the leading factors in creating spa success is offering a unique experience. The Spa Four Seasons Montreal, located in the heart of downtown’s Golden Square Mile, is an exclusive and intimate haven, where guests are immersed in peace and serenity. Its customized treatments include the only Kneipp Hydrotherapy facility in Canada (you can read more about Kneipp in “Science of the Spa”), involving a walk over polished stones to massage acupressure points on the foot, with an interplay of hot and cold water on the skin.
Experts suggest that when spas are considering introducing new add-ons, understanding your client profile is key; for example, hotel spas in big city centres cater to distinctly different guests than resort or destination spas.
Dol-as Spa has the advantage of being located at Fox Harb’r Resort in Nova Scotia, famous for its stunning golf course and five-star accommodations. The spa offers traditional services and treatments, but it also caters directly to its clients – most of whom come into the spa after a day at the links. “We designed specific massage treatments to reach our sportier guests. Our GolFORE’s massage helps avid golfers release tension in the hands, forearms and lower back. Our Fox Harb’r Foot Ritual is a very unique, 20-minute treatment for our golfers; relieving tired feet and lower legs with a jetted foot soak, soothing foot balm and massage. This is ideal for anyone, especially the golfer that wants to get in another nine holes,” says spa director Joann Patriquin. She notes that reflexology, a more recent addition to the spa’s menu, is offered as both a standalone service or as an add-on. “Our feet reach every part of our body; it rebalances our nervous system, dissipates tension and stress that can be held in our feet,” Patriquin explains. Dol-as Spa is also launching a new foot treatment this year, the Soothing Stone Pedicure, which some spa guests have likened to a full massage after a pedicure. A foot soak, exfoliation, a hydrating masque and basalt stone placement relax tension and stress through the foot and lower leg.
Customers clearly value convenience, whether it’s being able to schedule their appointments online or expecting a full suite of services delivered under one roof. In the 12 years since beauty industry veteran Celine Tadrissi opened the award-winning Hammam Spa, a modern interpretation of traditional Turkish baths in downtown Toronto, she’s been successful enough to develop a skincare line and expand her business to another flagship location, Hammam Spa by Céla, located in the city’s Bayview Village Mall. In partnership with renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Sean Rice, the new location offers services ranging from medical-grade facials and potent chemical peels to injectable options.
For history buffs, Le Monastère des Augustines – a seventeenth-century monastery transformed into a retreat in the heart of Quebec City – is known for its unique approach to health and wellness. Carefully restored and redesigned, the space offers guests a unique experience in holistic health, merged with a rare opportunity to connect with the Augustinian Sisters’ remarkable heritage. In addition to its massage packages, the retreat offers personalized support including tools, nutritional advice and follow-up at home to help their clients’ progress towards wellness.
Making the most of a unique location, spas like The Northern Lights Resort and Spa in the Yukon deliver an experience like no other. This is one of the only places in the world where guests can follow up their massage with the sky’s greatest light show. Here, nature lovers can enjoy a Finnish or infrared sauna, spend some time in the relax room, get a massage or just relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi while admiring the swirling colours of the aurora borealis.