These days, basic bath robes and unisex slippers are things of the past. While these tra- ditional options are practical, many of today’s spas are opting instead for more fashionable styles that don’t compromise function. “Up until the late ‘90s, most spa robes were made of waffle or terry velour,” says Karen Faul, president of Monarch Cypress. “Most luxury spas adopted microfiber robes once they were introduced. They were a lighter weight than terry velour, warmer, and provided more cover- age than waffle material. Plus, they laundered beautifully, outlasted any other fabric, and are now also available in colors with matching or contrasting terry or plush linings.”
Monarch Cypress aims to meet the fashion and functional needs of its clients through a variety of design, fabric, and color options. Faul says this is a tall order, as spa robes must also meet the rigors of constant laundering. “On a busy day, with all treatment rooms fully booked every hour, it is not unusual for robes to be laundered more than once,” she says. “Most importantly, a spa robe must provide adequate coverage while being comfortable and warm.”
Cecilia Tate, spa manager of The Spa at PGA at PGA National Resort & Spa (Palm Beach Gardens, FL), wanted a stylish robe, yet one that was practical and well suited for her spa. “The most important characteristics for me when selecting a spa robe were quality, durability, and comfort, and it had to be aesthetically appealing and the proper thickness and weight for drying purposes,” says Tate. She chose a custom-made Boca Terry 100-percent-cotton white waffle robe adorned with the PGA spa logo with no pockets to prevent clients from leaving personal items behind. This customization to fit the spa’s brand and location is a popular request among buyers. “We customize robes with various trim details, colors, and yarn gauge options, which enables us to create some- thing special and unique,” says Merri Gleckler, president and co-owner of Kashwére.
Guniz Alkan, president of A La Turca Tex- tiles, has noticed an increase in client requests for natural fibers and styles and fabrics with character and authenticity. To satisfy these requests, Alkan recommends the Cloud 9 robe, which is 100-percent microfiber and made of cotton and bamboo. Also, robes that can be used all year seem to be more practical for spas than one robe for warm weather and another for cold weather. Gleckler reveals that Kashwére will soon introduce a thinner, less bulky robe without a shawl collar to make it more lightweight and suitable for all seasons.
Heidi Meisinger, spa manager of the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim (Vancouver, B.C.), opted for white, lightweight, and pocketless robes in a variety of unisex sizes from Majestic International with the Willow Stream logo on them. As for slippers, she chose OKA b. spa slippers in black in separate men’s and women’s sizes for the ultimate comfort and fit for all clients. Many spas, however, are opting for unisex sizing for financial and practical reasons. “Clients want unisex sizing to simplify the complexity of providing gender-specific spa footwear,” says Lawrence Grum, managing partner at Yeah Baby. “Many spas have become overwhelmed logistically and financially with trying to maintain women’s and men’s size across the entire size range. In addition, many spas have requested true arch support in spa slippers to enable their guests to be comfortable as they walk about the property beyond the spa and give them flexibility to roam and then return to the spa.”
To address these specific requests, Yeah Baby developed the Cloud 9 Spa Slipper. The slipper is available in unisex sizes that range from extra- small to extra-extra large. The Cloud 9, which is the company’s most popular slipper, fits everyone from petite women to large, athletic men and features a natural arch-support insole that delivers maximum comfort.
Similar to robes, another popular request for slippers is to feature the spa’s name or logo on them. “Spas have embraced this idea, because they often use a slipper with a logo as a promotional giveaway or as a guest welcome gift to help further enhance the spa experience,” says Grum. Four Seasons Hotels worldwide, for example, have utilized the Cloud 9 in chocolate with an understated laser- engraved logo of the Four Seasons tree on the side of the slipper. “With this, we have delivered not only five-star comfort via our true arch support and soft insole but also branding consistency through the laser-engraved corporate logo that is recognized worldwide as a symbol of distinction,” he says.
Tate opted for custom Zendals spa slippers from Ready Care Industries in an ocean blue color with a wide strap and the PGA spa logo on them. Ready Care is able to meet the fashion tastes of clients while keeping the slippers functional by sticking with traditional designs with health benefits. “We offer in-house screening for custom sandals with an immediate turnaround,” says Suzie Sommer, senior vice president of marketing at Ready Care Industries. “Clients want something that looks good on the foot. It’s the one thing people wear at the hotel and spa that they can see on themselves without looking in a mirror.” Therefore, the company has introduced various stylish and functional sandals, like its popular yoga thong sandal, which offers a separation and elevation of the big toe for aesthetic, comfort, and health benefits, and a reflexology massage sandal that puts pressure on points of the foot to stimulate circulation and ease tension.
While many spas still prefer white robes, slipper manufacturers are seeing an increase in requests for unique colors. Yeah Baby, for example, has developed fashion-inspired colors and modified its core line to reflect the latest design and color trends. “Metallic shades are now popular. In fact, we recently manufactured our Cloud 9 sandal in a metallic copper for a spa that wanted slippers to match its new interior design scheme,” says Grum. “From a design perspective, we are able to apply our soft-flex material used in the Cloud 9 into proprietary custom spa slipper designs that satisfy the unique requirements of our customers.”
OKA b. is also known for its trendy spa sandals that often blur the line between spa slippers and summer sandals. “OKA b. clients look for comfort, style, and color when choosing their spa sandals,” says Kara Conrad, director of sales, spa and resort division at OKA b. “Our designs are sleek and modern, and we have a realm of color options. We also have several silhouettes, so our clients can choose the sandal and color that best suits their spa environment.”
Stylish and functional robes and slippers present another benefit in addition to satisfying clients while they are at the spa. They make great retail items, as clients are more likely to purchase them if they are not only comfortable but also look good and remind them of the luxurious experience they had at the spa. A La Turca’s new Pestemal Robe, which is currently being used at Spa Mukul at Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa (Rivas, Nicaragua), is quickly becoming a client favorite. “The robe is made of the same material as famous Turkish hammam pestemals, weighs less than one pound, takes up very little space so shipping costs and storage space are less, and dries in fewer than 20 minutes, thus reducing the energy cost from frequent laundering,” says Alcan. “Also, it takes up almost no room in luggage, so guests do not hesitate to purchase them as souvenirs.”
Aviara Spa at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (Carlsbad, CA) encourages clients to take the spa experience home with them by offering a variety of Frette robes in its retail area, including a velour robe, a terry robe, and a kimono pique robe. Offering a variety of robes allows guests to choose the design that works best and is most comfortable for them.
Spa slippers make great retail items, as well, because they are versatile and comfortable and can be worn at home, as well as at the gym, the beach, and often in place of traditional sandals. If they are also stylish, that makes them even more desirable to guests. “Our retail collection takes our sandals to the next level,” says Conrad. “We are able to incorporate fashion trends from footwear and accessories to the shoes and this gives spa clients the flexibility to wear our sandals during their treatments—and purchase a pair to take home.”