Feature Article - January/February 2002
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There’s No Business Like Spa Business

With some rec centers and health clubs adding or converting space for spas, how do you plan a successful place for pampering?

By Jenny E. Beeh

Once the decadent relaxing playgrounds of the rich and famous, spas are now popping up everywhere—including rec facilities—and catering to everyday people in search of a little pampering.

The spa facilities at Boar's Head Inn, a Sports Club,
Resort and Spa in Charlottesville, Va.

"It's a stressed-out world," says Bob Calvo, vice president of construction for Town Sports International, based in New York, which owns 120 health clubs including Boston Sports Clubs as well as its counterparts in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Stress relief is what spas are all about.

"Spas are a major growing trend in the United States," adds Francis Acunzo of Sage Spa, a consultant specializing in the spa industry and owner of two spas located in health clubs. "One of the largest growth segments is the club spa category—spas within or part of health and fitness clubs." He sees health club members as a good match for spas. "There's and obvious symmetry between the markets," he says.

Proximity helps, too.

"The No. 1 driving factor in the purchase of spa services is convenience," Acunzo says. "[With health clubs], you have a captured audience.

And that audience increasingly knows what it wants.

"The spa industry needs to keep the consumers in mind. Qualitative research indicated that as the industry continues to grow, there is some concern that standards could slip, or that the human component could be taken over by a cold, corporate way of doing business. The industry as a whole has to be careful not to lose sight of the customer and their priorities and of the fact that they are in the "touch" business. They need to ensure that the consumer receives an appropriate experience and that the authenticity and credibility of the industry is maintained."

Source: The International SPA Association's 2000 Spa Industry Study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers

"Consumers are driving the demand for spas, and they are becoming more and more educated about the value of a spa experience," says Lynne Walker McNees, executive director of the International SPA Association (ISPA). "When someone goes to a health or fitness center they want to do more than workout—they want a one-stop shop, a place where they can also get a massage or a facial. People have less time, they want to spend their time wisely—health and fitness centers adding a spa component is a perfect fit for busy people."