Adding alternative new treatments to existing spa menus helps
guests to achieve more wellbeing benefits and increases
business revenue as well. By Mr. Barry Warrington,
Director of Wellness Operations, Serensia Woods
As spas look to expand from their usual massage and facial offerings into the wellness space, there is often a decision to be made on what treatments should be included into the spa menu and with what benefit to the customers? Below I outline some of the more common treatments and hopefully introduce you to some new therapies that you can incorporate into the customer experience.
There are many instruments that can be used for sound healing – singing bowls, drums, string instruments and wind instruments are just the most common. These treatments send out sound waves to help calm the mind, and activate the thoughts and focus used to relax the body. In my personal experience, the equipment used and the experience of the practitioner can make a difference to the treatment, so I suggest you try the treatment before introducing it to your guests. One of the most popular approaches used currently is singing bowls. There are a few trainers in China and the courses offered are usually completed within a few days with the staff requiring ongoing practice to gain confidence in using the bowls. The more advanced trainers will then evaluate the skill of the therapist before certifying the therapist in doing the treatment. There are also CDs with specific Hz frequencies to cause a deeper physical effect on cells within the body. There is published research on the effects of each of these frequencies so please do your research to find what is right for you.
Guided meditation and progressive relaxation
This is one of my favourite forms of meditation because you not only relax your mind and body but it only takes 10 – 15 minutes to complete. The approach is to first become comfortable in either a chair or lying on the floor. You start with some deep breaths and gaining awareness of your body and mind. Using breathing and mental focus, you start with 10 to 15 deep breaths allowing the mind to calm before using your mind to scan the body and become aware of any tension. You are then instructed to tense and visualise the tension in the muscles before releasing the contractions and allow the tension to dissolve or fade away. You contract one muscle group at a time, holding that for about 5 seconds before releasing the tension and noticing the level of relaxation as your release the muscle contraction.
Part of the reason that this approach is so powerful is the visualisation component of this meditation. Visualisation is very powerful as your brain doesn’t actually distinguish between an imagined event or a real one, as you see the tension in the body disappear, the body responds allowing you to achieve a deep state of physical relaxation. There are many physical effects that can be achieved during this practice including a lowering of the heart rate and respiratory rate. There are also improvements in immune function and hormone balancing. By doing this before a massage or another treatment, your customers will feel a greater effect from the treatment because they are already pre-relaxed before the treatment even starts!
Using crystals to heal the body is an ancient practice that can be traced back to 400 BC. In most therapy sessions crystals are either placed on the body or around it depending on the desired result of the treatment. Having experienced a few sessions over the years, I have noticed that this treatment can vary on the skill of the therapist and the environment that the treatment is conducted in. I would point out that from a scientific point of view, the successes of crystal healing can be attributed to the placebo effect, but this should not put you off as it’s a popular treatment that can add depth to your offering.
Reiki and other forms of hands-on or distant healing have been growing in popularity over the years. Practitioners are usually attuned by a master to be able to channel the universal energy known as qi, pronounced “chi.” In India, this is known as “prana.” This is the same energy involved in tai chi exercise. It is the life force energy that somehow surrounds all of us. Spa treatment rooms are a great place to have a session and can involve special music and aromatherapy to add in the session. The most common application of reiki is to aid in physical or emotional healing as well as allowing the customer to achieve a deep state of relaxation.
There are two types of treatments involved in float sessions, a dry float where you remain clothed and the float tank where you are floating in water with a high concentration of Epson salt.
There are a variety of dry float devices on the market but essentially, they work the same way. You remove your shoes and lay down on the bed, the therapist will ensure you are comfortable before starting the treatment. The client is slowly lowered into a membrane that is filled with warm water allowing the customer to float without getting wet. At the end of the treatment, usually 30 minutes, the bed will rise up and the customer can easily get up from the bed. There is little therapist interaction as the device is the treatment.
For the wet float, you wear a swimming costume and enter a flotation tank or floatation pod. The depth of the water is about 30 cm, and you slowly lay down in the water and because of the salt will float straight away. The pod version is designed to remove more external stimuli as you are encased inside the pod. This is sometimes referred to as sensory deprivation. All versions of these devices allow the body to achieve a feeling of weightlessness. There are many benefits to the treatment and it’s a great add-on to any spa package offering. Benefits include increased recovery from sport, stress reduction, and relaxation. Scientific research with float tank therapy generally uses the term “flotation-REST” (reduced environmental stimulation therapy) to refer to the technique, and with REST in the name how can you go wrong?
Red light therapy
Probably one of the easiest of all the treatments to implement in any spa. There are many commercially available products on the market to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms. What I really like about these treatments is the diversity of not only the devices but the science behind the effectiveness of the treatment. Effective Red Light therapy treatments use a specific wavelength to achieve the therapeutic benefits of the treatment. Since the 1800s, this treatment has been used to treat skin complaints but has recently seen a resurgence in its popularity. In medical aesthetics, this treatment is used to increase healing after laser treatment as well as for acne. For scar tissue, the treatment works by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the area. For the spas there are professional facial devices that can complement your current facial offering as a standalone or package treatment. If you’re also interested in scalp and hair treatments, red light therapy has shown to be an effective treatment to halt and in some cases also reverse hair loss. Full body treatments also exist and these are achieving great results in decreasing inflammation and pain reduction.
If you are planning on retailing home use devices you need to look for brands that use the frequency of between the mid-600 to 900 nanometre range as this shows the best results.
Many of the above treatments are great to add into spa package for specific outcomes such as “Detox” or “Anti-Aging”, they are also useful when doing “Spartys” as you can take in the example of sound healing more than one customer at a time. An event can start with a group sound healing or guided mediation before they go off and experience their massages or facials or ideally both.
Wellbeing and employee health are often areas of concern for the human resources department. As all of the above treatments focus on both stress reduction and general wellbeing, I have found that approaching HR Directors with these treatments, you are able to expand your market with an introductory offer to their staff. In a few of the above examples, some treatments are even able to move into the board room. I know of a few companies that provide in-house meditation using a visiting therapist to conduct the session. I have also previously worked with a real estate company that allowed our therapist to come in and provide an “energy chair” massage.
My personal take on adding wellness therapies to your treatment menu are they have to be effective in providing some form of benefit to your customers. One of the complaints I get from guests is they simply don’t have enough time to focus on taking care of themselves due to the demands of day-to-day living. This can be challenging when we add extra treatments to our offering but here, I have some simple and effective solutions. Wherever possible I encourage the use of layering of treatments within the same hour. One example that works very well is while your client is having a foot treatment (this can be a massage, reflexology, or even a pedicure) you can use either the Red Light therapy facial or scalp treatment. This way your client is getting the benefit of two treatments within the same hour, increasing their overall outcome and improving their wellbeing. A win for the client and improving your bottom line.
For Hotel Spa Managers/Wellness directors and Day spa operators, the above is just an introduction to some of the many treatments that exist. New wellness devices are coming on the market all the time and the good ones provide more than just a single benefit. It’s important you view these devices with an open mind as some claims seem too good to be true, I used both my personal experience with the treatment or device and also read articles on PUBMED to see what the published science is saying about treatments. The more serious devices have achieved FDA status and if sold in China can have or be applying for CFDA approval. I also see how these energy devices can add extra wellness benefits to the customer that perhaps the existing treatments are unable to do. I also seek out devices that can assist in pain or improve the quality of sleep as we get a lot of customers that have these complaints. I also look at home use products that I can add to my retail offering to ensure the continued benefits of these devices.
For most spiritual treatments, it’s very difficult to find scientific studies, but I don’t take this as the only requirement to adding treatments to my menus. I do however make sure I have tested the therapist before adding treatments to my menu and gain regular feedback from my guests. For the treatments that make use of a skilled therapist, you may want to start with a visiting practitioner to test the waters of the popularity of the treatment before investing in the training of your staff.
Guests are seeking out new treatments and technologies to improve their wellbeing, you need to stay competitive by reviewing your menu, taking a deeper dive into the benefits of the treatments you offer and looking at promoting the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of these treatments. I always encourage therapists to develop more skills and gain knowledge in the benefits of adding the use of energetic devices to the skills they have. I also use a lot of visiting practitioners so if you don’t want to have some of the treatments offered on a permeant basis, you can view it as a monthly promotion or short offering while the special therapists are on site.
Barry has had a 25-year career in Wellness focusing on a diverse market mix but most recently in the luxury and premium markets. Barry has worked in many countries and cultures. He has set up and run Day Spas, Medical Clinics, Spas and Fitness/Clubs in London, Dubai, Maldives, Cyprus, Spain, Seychelles, Thailand, Vietnam and most recently in China. He has worked on Wellness and Lifestyle Brands such as Chiva Som and Six Senses Spas where he was utilized in new project designs, pre-opening planning, opening events, and managing day-to-day operations.