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In the best of hands

Expert staff the key to Dol-ás Spa’s success

By Sean Tarry
A number of changes have occurred over the course of the past few years, impacting just about everything around us. As a result, most industries and sectors have been affected, presenting challenges to overcome in order for many businesses to remain successful. However, none were challenged more so than those operating within hospitality, most specifically—the spa industry. Social distancing protocols and other similar rules severely limited and, in most cases, completely debilitated any spa establishment’s ability to provide the services that they’re known for. When restrictions were lifted, a period of hesitancy on the part of the consumer followed as they collectively refrained from venturing back out into public spaces. However, as we have now well and truly moved beyond the worst of the impacts posed by COVID-19 and into a post-pandemic world, many spa operators across the country are actively working to ensure the experiences they offer are second to none.
For Joann Patriquin, spa director of Dol-ás Spa at Fox Harb’r Resort, those experiences are rooted in the abilities and execution of her talented staff. Spa Inc. recently sat down with Patriquin to learn more about her staff-centric approach, the benefits the customer receives as a result, and some of the factors and challenges impacting the success of spa establishments across the country.

Spa Inc.: Achieving success within today’s hypercompetitive market is a challenging and complex task. In your estimation, what are the most important factors related to running a successful spa operation today?
Joann Patriquin: A successful spa operation is all about your team and their expertise. Our professional therapists are an integral part of the Fox Harb’r Resort experience. They are immensely skilled and committed to offering the best treatments to our valued guests. Our therapists deliver a five-star luxury service. To ensure consistency, we train every season. Even if a therapist has been with us for 10 years, we train again at the start of every season. A luxury spa can have lovely products and strict protocols, but without a talented team delivering at the highest levels, it will not succeed. People often say guests first, but I believe it’s therapists first. Because our team is the most important aspect of our success, I put them at the very top. They each work with me to make decisions and help ensure our guests receive the ultimate elevated experience from the moment they step into our world. We employ only licensed skincare specialists and registered therapists. They are highly qualified and well educated in their fields. This gives guests the confidence to know they are in the best of hands.

SI: The industry has been faced with a number of hurdles to overcome over the course of the past few years. What do you think are the biggest obstacles currently facing spa operators?
JP: For us, our biggest challenge is the fact that we’re in a rural community and we operate seasonally. That means we have to get creative with staffing. Across the industry, recruitment and retention is a challenge. This is true for most roles in hospitality. Turnover is very expensive, particularly for the spa business. For our part, we combat this by promoting a healthy workplace balance and by creating an environment that therapists seek out to build their careers. And, our team members also enjoy competitive wages, educational opportunities to assist with licensing, discounts, and more.

SI: Catering to the needs of the guest is obviously of paramount importance within the spa industry. However, as markets and economic factors change, so, too, do consumer tastes and preferences. With this in mind, what is today’s spa-goer seeking from their visit?
JP: Dol-ás means ‘escape’ in Scottish Gaelic, and that’s exactly what today’s discerning spa-goers are looking for: a personalized luxury experience to take them away from the everyday stresses that impact their bodies. Spas are continually moving into the wellness space, supporting mental health through customized treatment offerings and specialized retreats. Our mental health is challenged on a daily basis and spa-goers are seeking out holistic support. What a spa does best is help guests relax and recharge. An effective spa gives guests a
much-needed mental health break. The boost you can get from a 60-minute treatment is amazing. Guests leave feeling recharged and rejuvenated.

SI: Looking ahead to the next one to three years, what do you anticipate will be the biggest differentiator between top-class spas and the rest of the industry?
JP: I believe for a top-class spa to ensure success, it must be responsive to the ever-changing guest demographic. It’s more than just offering the latest trend treatment. Trends will come and go, but I believe that wellness is here to stay. A spa must embrace the wellness aspect and make certain it’s a core part of the overall offering. For us at Dol-ás Spa, we offer therapies and services that are preventive in nature, meaning we aren’t just trying to treat or maintain a condition. That might mean a specialized treatment to enhance golf mobility and avoid injury or a skincare solution that promotes new and healthy cell reproduction. We want to be a part of the preventative option. We see real value there beyond just offering the basics.

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