Mourning the Past You – Your Spiritual Spa Journey

21 11 2009


I follow many tops spa blogs, and have collaborated with the talented and motivated authors of several of them.  Which is why I was pleased to find an unexpected post and link from A Girls Gotta Spa. Not necessarily related to spas as we think of them, but transformation and mourning.  ( in a sense)While we often seek spiritual connection and more self awareness, many don’t place the connection of the real grieving process, and true mourning that goes into creating a true YOU.  Letting go of the past to discover the future.

As we go through transitions in our life, whether expected or not, whether our choice or seemingly thrown upon us, like a ton of bricks……it is important to mourn the past.  Just as you would a death, because ultimatley the same emotions will arise.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Guilt
  5. Depression
  6. Acceptance

The past year for me has been a down and dirty, true grit, in your face, life changing transformation just like that. I’ve grieved, and I’ve found some eye opening changes. I found some of my own words of late from an interview of Lady Gaga, in one of my fav beauty blogs. Famous singer/song writer Lady Gaga’s talks about becoming her

In her new album “Fame Monster” she says she “wrote about fear”, and that she is “holding onto my solitude, and wrestling with my thoughts”. Her words, pose a pretty candid look into who she was and who she is. Well said for her own experiences, it is something we should all be delving into.

She also mentions, interestingly enough, something I’ve thought much about this past year, for myself and others. “MASKS”. We all wear them, and peoples’  image control can make us believe they are something they are not, and make us believe we are the masks we wear ourselves. Only exposing what’s behind the mask, can take you deeper.


For me, I’ve recognized that the struggle against certain changes, were actually an opportunity to recognize more of myself, and pursue my true talents even more. When I finally ceased to resist, more rapid transformations came that lead to  more opportunity.

Transformation is not easy or uncomplicated. Grieving, is even less so. Your beliefs will be disrupted, relationships affected, emotions erupt, doors closed, others opened, and on and on. If you’re expecting otherwise, and not willing to do the real work, you will be sorely disappointed.

Changes may not always come in the ways we want or expect, but if we trust ourselves, and keep a keen eye out for new angles, we will be able to enhance our personal development.

These words about fear and masks, grieving and transformation, have been said by many in their own ways, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and coutless others…..but solidfying it in YOUR words is what matters.

While this post is not all about Lady Gaga, or myself, it is about an opportunity. More spas are connecting with individuals spirtuality, and creating workshops and programs that allows people to do transformational work. This is something we know well in the spa and wellness industry.

Thanks Lady Gaga, thanks Girls Gotta Spa, and thanks to you!  If you feel the new you is just not in the cards, take another look. Just when you want to give up, it will be there.

If you’d like to find more on retreats for spiritual spa journeys, you can check out;

Spiritual Spa Collection

Day Spa for the Mind

On the Joy Path


Is “Luxury” Taboo? Purposeful Leisure Companies Are New Trendsetters

24 04 2009


Nothing is Taboo

Nothing is Taboo

Spas and resorts are paying attention to the economic trends at the luxury level. The tell – tell signs of  expansion or retraction here can be like the canary in the mine. Most spa trends, casino and hotel spas being an example, show upward growth. However, lately, many spa and hospitality planners are more apt to err on the conservative side. When it comes to gifting, purchasing and luxury related healing therapies, spa and hospitality budgets are shrinking. Especially with corporate goodies, which were extravagant when bookings were at a high in fat times.    


Will luxury goods, services and high end destinations take a bigger hit in 2009?  Will it be taboo to partake of luxury services and products? Or can we have faith that spas and leisure are here to stay and amid the slowdown people will evolve to create their own ‘purposeful leisure’ options? More people are combining  pampering, getaways, and other leisure time with a ‘give back’ mentality that changes leisure into a purpose driven result. Guilt free. The growing trend in ‘Volun-Tourism’, showcases that. Choices are endless with packages to volunteer  in a Cambodian orphanage to cleaning up international reefs.  Leisure with a purpose seems to be a newly revived social trend that spa and hospitality venues can tap into for wealth building.  Creating activities and packages with this theme, has already increased the revenue of trendsetters and marketing innovators.   


Luxury Travel Vacation

Luxury Travel Vacation

Take a look at charity driven travel as told in  Forbes Traveller  by author Rebecca Ruiz. “Buying travel packages or event tickets through charity auctions is not a new trend, but it can be a useful tool for conscientious travelers who like the idea of combining a vacation with altruism. Once aware of the option, says Founder and CEO Kelly Fiore, “Why would you do it a different way?”.  In short, people purchase items, services and travel from a charity related site or event. The win – win is the client receives great items, and the charity gains useful funds. A  desire for guilt free indulgences, travel, luxury and products, can be developed into a grand PR opportunity for your spa or leisure location. 

 Ok,  some of you may be saying ANY of YOUR leisure time IS purposeful.  This concept is nothing new. Your right.  It’s relative to your perception. In business perception is imperative to growing. With media continuing to highlight the downturn, and overindulgence frowned upon, business solutions may not be so obvious. Do remember, one item  that will never be overindulgent or taboo, is excellence in client service.  Time to expand your perception.

So how do we utilize this purposeful social trend to not just indulge, but to create purpose for ourselves and our spa clients?  Tracking the current trends in luxury travel and purchasing  to get creative, and jump on board with new options would be one way. If you can’t get creative on your own, using media conscious tools or a PR consultant to collaborate on regional to international marketing campaigns could be the difference between  business recognition or obscurity. 



Corporate Luxury Gift

Corporate Luxury Gift


Let’s consider what you need to produce the results your want from your clients. Would you have use for the uber –luxury items in this video.?  If this doesn’t fit your client profile, don’t worry. As with all products and services, stop and ask yourself if this is something your clients can use?

   Your clients – everyday people, professionals, tycoons, and celebrities all have the same capacity to be stressed, just for different reasons. We are in a unique time, and one I believe we can use to forge new positive pathways with staying power.  Statistics show that people continue to use leisure services and spa treatments to decompress. Many spas are still ringing in positive sales quarters, despite some luxury taboos. Industry trend setters continue to keep a close watch on the current economics and client responses within the spa, luxury and leisure industry.  Susies spa blog cites this reponse, “most spas say that bookings are up or holding steady” and “weekend bookings are still at capacity.” While I am sure that these spas have been affected somewhat by the economic downturn, there is resiliency. Why? Another trend in our top 10 – Stressing De-Stress.”  Susie Ellis, SpaFinder.   

 This is a bit of a spoof since most small and medium size spa and leisure companies, won’t be in the market for this type of  luxury. But instead of laughing it off, take the time to understand the entire scope of luxury (comfort), from high brow to low brow. 


Volun-Tourism Globally

Volun-Tourism Globally

Industry resiliency will reflect the client’s desire for value drive, relevant and results oriented, leisure fun. Including, spa, wellness, travel, volun-tourism, and other comfort products. While smaller, weaker brands may suffer the worst, and smaller spas may be hit the hardest. More established spa brands such as Champney’s, and Mandarin Oriental are expected to stay strong through the downturn.  Subsequently, newly  established spa locations and markets will also struggle to stay in the eyes of the consumer and industry marketers. 


 While larger brands can push ever more spending on publicity, smaller competitors will push to do the same, overspending. This may push them out of business.  If you are amid the small to medium size brands, operate as such, and don’t expect that you will have the media budget of a corporate brand. Even in a downturn, people will de-stress, and working with a local brand can be a value judgement for the client.  A revived purposeful leisure trend, enables people to explore new markets, with the ‘give back’ mentality.  Affordable luxury, or should we say well-being, still drives the market. New collaboration and package opportunities for individual businesses are ripe.

Though taboo luxury, has seen declines from the world’s top luxury trade fair in Basel, to  big layoffs at the  Greenbrier Resort , West Virginia, and fashion at the Christian Lacroix show in Paris. It will do no good , not to take a look at the positives. The new trend in leisure with a purpose just may be contributing to human growth as a whole.  No matter what your global positioning is, take a moment to participate in your own purposeful leisure activity. Your effects could be global.

To find our more, or brainstorm on our own purposeful leisure, get in touch with Lotus Effects

It seems spa and leisure trends can go two ways. Even more excessive pampering of the wealthiest clients, or deep discounting in an attempt to save falling sales. The businesses that fall into the gray matter in between may be feeling most of the pinch, with the deep discounters coming in a fast second. Luxury is still alive and well, but many are now taking a more conscientious look at defining that luxury. With societal opposition to opulence, many companies are opting to disengage from using the word luxury, for more relatable words such as, comfort and well being.  This can endear people to their brand, while still allowing them to provide a high level of comfort..



The “What Not to Wear” for Your Spa Design – Group West Design Architects

25 05 2008


If you’ve ever watched witty and sometimes brutal show host Stacey London from ‘What Not to Wear’, you can understand the work it takes to make someone over and entice them to listen to an expert, who knows what is best. This process is not that different from creating the individual spa layout, design choices and floor plan that will ultimately affect everything from your spa’s functionality, to how much revenue you generate per square foot. Each spa, resort, or destination spa concept sets out to engage the clients senses with colors, textures, sounds, and an individual style. It may be harder than you think to illicit the client response and branding style you want.

So how do you avoid the mistakes of ‘What Not to Design’ in your own spa make over or start up? We’ve put together a few tips and tricks from our collective experience in launching spas and our partnership with morally responsible architects, Group West, who specialize in resort, hotel and casino design. Group West is a long standing company that has spent significant time working with green building techniques, indigenous tribes, and organically grown concepts. Our collaboration provides holistic spa development for all concepts.


1. Look for a team that has synergy – Your design team should be able to provide your vision in a tangible format. Interior designers, architects, spa consultant, and contractors should all have a flow that works with your personal style. This will make it easier for them to also work as one, especially if they are all from separate companies. To take some of the stress off you, look for a base company that can provide a team that has contacts with or an existing relationship with all of the above team components. A team with specific experience in the spa and wellness industry will understand the dimensions and idiosyncrasies of spa development, equaling success.

2. Use color and texture as cost effective substitutes – The pop of a color with depth, like blues, reds and greens can be a cheap replacement to wall decor, paintings, fibers, glass etc., and with the right accents can evoke a great emotion. Shapes also are in trend to create movement of the eye, direct clients to areas for more purchasing, and shape unique design without going over the top with costs. Shape can be used with an exotic curve from lounge furniture, receptions desks and more, wall insets for art or product on display, differently shaped door frames, arches, layers of wall design or bright material with pillows and floors. Consider alternative texture elements, such as copper, grass, micro fiber, glass, metal, recycled materials and more. A good designer will have contacts to vendors with attractive elements, and guide you to reserve costs where you can, so you still have the budget for equipment and advertising.

3. Consider art as an organic element for design – Use images, photos, local artists, and natural elements to launch a creative spa design or begin with a strong branding presence. I know several photographers and artists who have captured unique images across the globe, and are willing to sell there photos and art to you. One artist lived with 131 families around the world, photographing their lives. She has compiled an especially appealing library of images that are serene faces of women in Indian garb, to mothers and babies at peace by a river. The style and setting can fit with many spa concepts, depending on your story. There are strong stories in eco elements, indigenous roots and serenity with such art. One client contracted an artist to do specific photos for their medical spa concept that set them apart from anyone else. Get creative, hire someone to get specific with your signature vision, and find those unique connections that will create client comments and attention with your spa design. Here are a few references; Artist; Helene Tremblay, Artist Dominique Normand 424.222.0390

4. Consider the health of your environment – Air quality and design should go hand in hand, since healthy surroundings support the spa concept. Use an air washer, that can keep air clean and smelling good at the same time. The humidifying and purifying technology of air washers can help keep skin healthy, and air borne illness down among other things. This element will also need to be considered in your original design with heating and air conditioning. Typically your spa environment should have 25 cycles per hour for healthy air quality. Your designer should coordinate technical needs with the contractor. Your not going to skimp on your facilities hygiene, so why would you consider the air quality any less important. It will keep clients and staff satisfied.

5. Sound proofing, electrical and water pressure are not the place to be frugal – You will want to combine professional lighting with natural lighting to reflect your purpose, highlight sales/products, and compliment the client. This is especially true if you are including a make up bar, or hair color stations. Client psychology can be played on with correct lighting. You will want ample illumination of product, and work lighting that varies from subtle to day light, depending on the therapy, i.e.; waxing needs day light, massage, low light. Lighting choices can also be reflected by the building layout, where east, west lighting may come it etc., Shelf lighting, display lighting, room dimmers, ample wall uplighting are all things to discuss with your spa design team. Coordinate with a chief electrician to ensure enough voltage for all of your equipment, and particular layout that includes wall sockets, and possible floor sockets under the massage table among others. They should help provide cut sheets, and an overview for approval. If your spa requires wet space ensure you’ve considered enough water pressure for showers in multiples, vichy shower, hydro tubs etc., with sufficient drainage and water excess. Wet room build out requires water proof sheetrock and slanted ceilings to start. Your concept will be built around your needs and clientele. If you skimp on any of these items in a start up build out, you may be faced with costly additions, renovations and adjustments later that will take up your cash flow, and create loss of business with downtime. Employ an expert and coordinate technical equipment needs.

6. Don’t forget about the non sexy items – Getting wrapped up in a spa vision is normal and there is a lot to think about in starting up or re vamping your business. Even architects and designers can overlook the real functionality of the day to day spa needs, if they haven’t made those mistakes before. You need storage, usually lots of it. Think, linens, soiled sheets etc. Want to sell retail? Know how the size and function of your front desk and office can handle deliveries, and inventory.  What about the back bar? Therapists need a real space to  mix, clean, talk and relax.  Keep them happy and you will be happy.  For larger spas, there may need to be spa concierge stations near lockers, signage that leads clients through rooms, and even more storage. There are many things that are overlooked with spa design. Clients don’t want to know how your operation runs smoothly, they just want to know it does.

Here’s how ‘Top Spa Bee’ expressed her opinion on the set up of treatment room functionality. It’s a great start and I would tend to agree. “Setup of the treatment room should allow for the following and I think everything should be hidden (it looks clean, uncluttered, and you never see the “trash””

  1. Mobil Cart that moves around the room (great for esthetician & for body treatments) (3-4 drawers)
  2. Hot Towel Cabinet
  3. Cold Refrigerator
  4. Towel Storage
  5. Laundry Storage (Under Table)
  6. Back-Bar Organization (at least 3 drawers)
  7. Sink
  8. Under Sink (paper towels)
  9. Any machines or equipment should be on carts (preferably enclosed)

7. A floor plan that still flows in peak hours – Most spas don’t operate at top capacity, but be prepared to keep your operations running smoothly for those influxes of business. Are therapists running into each other, going to the other side of the spa for clean sheets, have no where to do laundry, not enough locker space, shower not accessible privately? These are just a few questions that can arise in spa planning, hopefully before its all done. Therapists will need enough space to move freely, and your front desk will need to have space and POS systems that keep a high traffic flow in accordance with its full capacity size.  Don’t just follow trends on spa floor planning with large water features, and large open pedicure rooms, if it doesn’t work for your concept and budget. More importantly is that there is NO wasted space. So spend some time researching images, comparing prices and brainstorming with your spa consultant or design team.

If you’d like to find our more about Group West design and how we work together, feel free to call them for questions and project discussions coordinated with Lotus Effects, “The Image Wizard” . Group West Architectural Design Company.

Send us your design questions or stories about your own spa development.