Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
On our list of top 10 spa trend predictions for 2009 was “Casinos & Spas: A Good Bet” so I am pleased (and not surprised) that the New York Times
had a large feature on this very topic in
their Escapes section this weekend! Titled in the paper, “A New View of Atlantic City,” and online as “A New Side of Atlantic City: Spas,” the article talks about all the new luxury spas which “helped polish up the gambling resort and, in the process, created another reason to visit.”
This is what I had written in our trends report in November 2008:
Casinos & Spas: A Good Bet
Placing a high-end spa in a casino hotel was a long-shot idea when Elaine and Steve Wynn (both Golden Door regulars) opened the first at the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel in the 1980’s. But today, spas in casinos have hit the jackpot, as they are some
of the highest spa revenue producers in the world. These world-class facilities are situated within hotels with hundreds (often thousands) of rooms, catering to a captive, free-spendin
g clientele that both appreciates pampering and sees the value of balancing both high-octane indulgence and recharging, healthy pursuits.
Now let me just pause for a moment and address the comment I recently received on one of my blogs from an anonymous source suggesting that naming trends in the industry is more like stating the obvious.
Well, I don’t think so. We do our homework. Having predicted many trends before they were ever big splashes in newspapers and magazines (spa lifestyle real estate in 2004, sleep health in 2006 and luxury detox in 2007 for example), I can safely say that our list is often a forerunner to the buzz that we see in that upcoming year.
Not that we are always right, however this casino and spa trend is an example of having accurately read the zeitgeist. Part of why we observe trends pretty accurately is that we are in tuned to what is in the pipeline, what consumers are responding to, and what the revenue and expense figures are for various types of spa establishments around the world. In addition we naturally mo
nitor macro trends which, included in 2009 for example, the huge economic crisis.
The casino and spa story in the New York Times included a large photo of the Immersion spa swimming pool with multiple lounge areas overlooking the city at the Water Club hotel. There was also a photo of the lavender-lit Jacuzzi with waterfall background at the Red Door Spa at Harrah’s, a shot of the men’s spa lounge at the Borgata, and a peek into a treatment room at the Qua Spa at Caesar’s.
Although they didn’t mention it, “wow” decor is one reason why these spas are popular – not only with hotel guests, but as this article points out, but also with locals and people who drive in for a day visit. Casino hotels usually spend a lot of money making their spas dramatic and “something to talk about.” After all, spas in casinos can make very good money.
But spas in casinos also drive room nights – something the writer, Shivani Vora, mentioned in this article numerous times. Saying “they are major selling points at the hotels,” “draw visitors,” and “another reason to visit” shows how obvious it is that spas do more for a hotel than just make money from massages and facials. I find this kind of ironic…because I notice that many GM’s of hotels treat their spa managers as if they are towel-boys (or girls) when, in fact, they often drive significant business to the hotel itself. What is also interesting (and this is the result of a study done by Mandarin Oriental a few years ago), is that spas are often responsible for the majority of a hotel’s PR. After all, is the New York Times likely to write about the gambling tables or the decor in thousands of identical rooms? But spas usually have great visuals, evoke a healthy and positive feeling to a place that is often associated with the evils of gambling, cigarette smoke, and drinking and eating too much – and, in this economy, the desperation of some of its patrons.
And since I mentioned the economy, it might be worth noting that Vora stated in the article, “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, which which by the way, was the topic of a February New York Times
article – “In Tough Times, Spas Stress Stress