Panelists weigh in on the issues impacting the efforts of spas in their pursuit of top talent and the things they can do to retain their expertise
When is the right time to renovate your spa business? “When you know, you know,” says Sonia Imerti, owner of Oakville, Ontario’s Pretty in Pink Spa. “It’s kind of like when people say, ‘is there a right or wrong time to have a baby?’” she says. “You just have to go with your gut.”
Pretty In Pink grows up
That was Imerti’s headspace when she decided to do a major renovation and rebranding of her spa business, which originally opened in 2011 as an all-natural spa that catered to young clients and specialized in hosting birthday parties and mother-daughter dates. “Fast-forward the clock six-and-a-half years, those girls that originally started coming to us were now well into their teens and still coming, but we weren’t able to accommodate them on the weekends because we were so busy with birthday parties and all that stuff,” Imerti says. She had to make a quick decision to switch directions and transform her spa into a place that could accommodate an older clientele. “We had to make a hard, fast decision that we need to grow with our clientele and that our hearts are still with our original clientele,” she says.
Planning began in late 2017. Not only did Imerti want to update the spa to reflect her more mature clientele, the space itself needed updating after years of wear and tear. Imerti did most of the designing and worked with contractor John Vucina who had worked on a personal project for her. “He made it the most stress-free, seamless project I have ever worked on,” she says. The renovations included changing the flooring, replacing the merchandise shelving, adding two new treatment rooms, and changing the structure of the mani-pedi stations so that they were more accommodating of adult-sized clients.
Pretty in Pink is now open for business with a new logo, website and image. Instead of birthday parties, the spa is focusing on its adult clientele and building itself as a wellness and holistic centre in the community.
The renovations have not just helped Imerti cater to her changing clientele; it has also influenced her business approach. “Now that we’re very focused on who we cater to, that’s really helped me as well in my retail, in my purchasing because now I really know who my market is,” she says. “We really hope to be well-received by the community and appreciated.”
Scandinave’s Infinity Expansion
Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant in Quebec has just completed a new expansion, which Marketing Director Angelique Papadopoulos says was dubbed, Infinity. “The reason it’s called Infinity is because of the huge [outdoor] pool,” she says. “It’s a hot tub, and it’s got an infinity edge, and when you’re sitting in it, the water looks like its overflowing. In the summer you’ll have the view of the river in front of you, so you’ve got this endless flow of water.” The expansion even had its own tagline, Papadopoulos says: “More space, more relaxed.” The Infinity expansion includes an outdoor deck that overlooks the Diable River and is the site of a hot tub, icy plunge pool and a fire pit surrounded by 13 Adirondack chairs. Indoors, the spa has added a brand new three-tiered, gas-heated sauna (the old sauna was wood-heated), eucalyptus steam room, and a cold double bucket shower. Altogether, the new outdoor and indoor installations total 6,500 square-feet of new spa space.
“Tremblant is a growing region and we’ve steadily grown throughout the years,” Papadopoulos says. “It was time to provide some new installations and some more space. We really wanted to give the client an even better experience, so that their relaxation experience would be in a spacious environment.”
Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant’s Infinity expansion represents a $2-million investment. Shareholders have been planning this expansion for the last three years, Papadopoulos says. Construction began in June 2017 and the new areas were opened just before Christmas in December 2017 in a soft launch. “In the lead up to all of that, throughout the spring season from about April up until November when we were finishing all the construction, we were advertising,” Papadopoulos says. “Anyone who came to the spa obviously saw there was something going on. We had a lot of barriers hiding the construction zones and to compensate for some of the disruption the construction caused, we had promotional rates all summer which normally we don’t do in high season.”
After the opening in December, the spa held a big press event on January 18, 2018. The event was attended by 150 people, including local partners, members of the chamber of commerce and the city. The new section of the spa was closed for the day so that visitors could tour the facility and take pictures. They were invited to try the baths or to return at a more convenient time. “Obviously, we’ll be talking about [the expansion] for the next nine months or so,” Papadopoulos says. “We’re in a tourist region and there are a lot of people who won’t be planning to come here until the summer, so it won’t really resonate with them if they see the message now.”
- Have a plan. You’ll need to have a detailed plan for what you want to change or build in your spa business. That way, you can make sure you have all your financial ducks in a row.
- Communicate with clients. Let your clients know what you’re planning to do long in advance. Get them as excited about the coming change as you are! Offer promotions that are tied to the renovation to build goodwill. This will ease them into the period when the spa is in transition and any inconvenience that it will cause.
- Throw a party! There’s nothing like a celebration to kick off your new and improved spa. It’s a great way to renew community and client engagement in your business.