Yesterday I received a request from a reporter asking about casino spas (specifically about why Spa Finder added a Casino Spa category on its website). A colleague, Nikita, and I worked on our response. After we sent it she suggested that I post it on my blog, as she thought others would find it interesting. So here goes…
For a long time gambling and spas have co-existed. As far back as the 19th century, the French, English, Germans, and Russians all had stylish spas with casinos. Even when Saratoga in New York developed, the hot springs were not the only attraction – a casino was built right in the middle of town. And on the West Coast, the Palm Springs Casino Hotel was built on top of a large hot spring. People would gamble and then go downstairs for a hot springs bath.
I remember when Las Vegas was not about spas. The Vegas culture was all about gambling, eating, heavy drinking, late night partying, etc. When it came time for recovery, pleasure too was paramount. So some hotels had steam rooms, whirlpools, and massages (Caesars Palace for example) where people were nurtured back to health so they could hit the tables again as quickly as possible.
Then Elaine and Steve Wynn, who had been frequent guests at the Golden Door and loved spas, decided to add an elaborate spa facility to their Nugget hotel. Jackpot. It worked! They then went on to build the Mirage, where the spa was part of the initial blueprint and, of course, the rest is history. It became clear that not only were the spas popular with casino lovers, but they were also a great option for those who accompanied others to Las Vegas for business or pleasure.
In time, every major Vegas hotel that existed added a spa, and new hotels and resorts under construction today all include elaborate spas. These spas have tremendous appeal because of their massive size and extravagant design. Atlantic City is just now beginning to follow.
The other development worthy of note is that spas in casinos have become the most profitable spas in the country. With a built-in clientele, thanks to the large number of hotel rooms in most casinos, spas have had plenty of business and continue to expand their space exponentially. The Bellagio in Vegas is now at around 90,000 square feet and Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian has plans to double the size of its already very large space. (I understand that at times they do 1,000 treatments a day!)
It was, in fact, the opening of Canyon Ranch at the Venetian that became another milestone in the development of casino spas. When the Canyon Ranch brand with its stellar reputation for life enhancement deemed a casino worthy of its participation, the marriage of spa and casino was permanently sanctioned.
In terms of trends today, we see spas adding more facilities for men (including barber facilities), more emphasis on couples’ treatments and romantic extravagant couples’ rooms, designs that allow groups and themed parties, large fitness rooms with views, longer hours, and décor that outdoes whatever spa was most recently built or renovated.
Since Spa Finder has been tracking the spa industry for 20 years, we noticed in the past few years that more and more people wanted to know which casinos had spas and which spas had casinos. And people seem to want to know what the spa looks like and how it uses the “wow” factor – at times even deciding which hotel to stay in based on the spa! So we added the Casino Spa category to the Spafinder.com this year.
As Nikita said, the Baby Boomer’s new “theme park” seems to be the casino and spa!
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