Aiming High


Recently celebrating its 10th birthday, One Spa at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh (Scotland) has become the ultimate urban retreat. Although the 40,000-square-foot stand-alone facility was considered rather large when it first opened, its size has since proven a stroke of fortuitous foresight. In fact, the spa added eight additional treatment rooms in 2008, bringing the total number to 22. According to general manager JP Kavanaugh, the spa is also successful in driving hotel occupancy. “One Spa has had a very positive effect on the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa,” he says. “The hotel’s occupancy has increased, and our peak occupancy has shifted from a Wednesday to a Saturday, following the opening of the spa in 2001.” As further evidence of its success, the spa not only caters to hotel guests but also to more than 1,500 local members, many of whom are founding members. “Over the last few years, and in particular during the recession, we have found that our membership has continued to hold strong and grow steadily,” says spa director Mark Perkins. “We have found that day spa business has stayed flat. However, we have seen a marked increase in guests booking individual spa treatments.” Here, Perkins shares how the spa stays on top of its game.


How has One Spa continued to succeed in these trying times?

A. We have focused on delivering a quality experience and not reducing offerings that are obvious to guests while monitoring our costs closely. We also focus on delivering a high standard of service, as we believe winning the customer is paramount.


Why do you think it has been able to succeed where other spas have failed?

A. Our high membership base gives us a constant and stable revenue stream, and our facilities are unrivaled locally and compete well in the European market with other European spas.


How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?

A. We attract them with loyalty cards, returning offers, special offers for popular treatments, and by reaching out to closed user groups, such as our local members. We have monthly offers that are timed with the seasons. For example, we offer a Detox package in January, a Couples Getaway in February, and a Beach Body package in time for the vacation season. We tend to add value with our hydropool and thermal suite. Our thermal suite and use of the spa is a treatment in itself that we call “Escape at One,” so adding this to other treatments with a seasonal twist shows value to the consumer. On top of this, we have our more unique packages, such as our Journeys, which are either a two- or five-day journey in which we ask the client to perform a consultation two to four weeks before they are due to arrive, and we then cater a very personal and prescribed package.


How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?

A. We have redesigned and modernized the One Spa website to make it more user friendly and lifestyle based. We are very proactive on social media—Facebook, Flickr, TripAdvisor, and Twitter—and respond directly and in a timely fashion to all reviews. We don’t just post offers, we also post any interesting content that we believe our followers would want to read. In addition, we send out regular emails to our members and database with offers, news, and tips.


What steps and cost-cutting measures did you employ to offset the recession?

A. We revisited all of our procedures and shared information on financials and targets daily with the team to enable them to feel as though they have more ownership of the business. All treatments are priced individually, and the cost of all elements within the spa, including laundry and more, are shared, so all associates understand the value of what they are using on a daily basis.


Have you had to let any employees go?

A. We are fortunate we did not have to let any associates go, and we ensured that any natural attrition was met with restructuring of departments where possible. We did, however, find that the level of business did not drop but actually grew, which meant we needed to maintain and build on therapist numbers in particular.


What have you learned from surviving the recent recession, and how do you plan to incorporate those lessons in the future?


A. Spas are now well established, and to a particular group in society, treatments are a lifestyle choice. We have found that some of this group will still choose treatments over other lifestyle choices, such as eating out. Spa membership stays high due again to this being a lifestyle choice for many now and not a luxury as it once may have been perceived.