ALTHOUGH THE DAYS OF SLEEP-AWAY CAMP ARE a distant memory for most adults, those who are still waxing nostalgic can relive them with a spa retreat. Whether it be a mother-daughter bonding weekend or a wellness-themed week, a retreat not only gives you an avenue to introduce new guests to your spa, but it is also an excellent way to encourage your existing clients to visit again for an entirely new experience. It can take the form of a mind-body experience, or it can launch a series that evolves with the wishes and needs of the participants. The bottom line is that a retreat creates a new, immediate revenue stream, and if incorporated into a series, it establishes an ongoing source of loyal customers through your doors.
In today's time-pressed world, people are starved for richness from the inside out. People have a tendency to look outside themselves to discover their self worth. Many are looking to flip a magical switch that will give them insight into who they really are and deliver an experience that will reveal their true value. Spas that can achieve this through their retreats have an advantage over the competition.
The Spa at Pinehurst offers semi-annual women's retreats.
Kim Huber, spa director at The Spa at Pinehurst (Pinehurst, NC), found hosting semi-annual women's retreats to be especially beneficial. The spa's Spring Renewal Weekend, which occurred in March, had former Miss America Heather Whitestone-McCallum on hand to inspire guests to adopt a more positive attitude and face life's challenges head-on. In addition, the weekend included a number of motivational seminars and life-enriching workshops along with either a life coaching session or personal training session. Another similar retreat is slated for the fall. "Our first spring retreat brought in twenty-five clients, and our fall had more than one hundred," says Huber, noting that clients often sign up for the next retreat before they depart.
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (London) recently introduced its 2007 Wellness Weekend, a two-night program that incorporates Tai Chi, yoga, a personal training session, a two-hour Advanced Time Ritual at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, spa cuisine, a nutritional advice session with naturopath and nutritionist Max Tomlinson, and more.
Retreats boost business at spas such as (from top to bottom) The Spa at Pinehurst, Mayflower Spa, and The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.
Although girlfriend getaways and wellness-oriented retreats are among the most popular, there is no limit to the creative ideas you can come up with. For instance, Mayflower Spa (Washington, CT) recently offered a Write Your Memoir retreat, complete with daily writing workshops. Dani Shapiro, best-selling author of Slow Motion (Harvest, 1999) and Family History (Knopf, 2003), was on hand to offer participants guidance on the writing process. "Because our family cherishes literature and the arts in general, it was an easy step to imagine creating workshops within the destination spa week that explore the arts," says Lisa Hedley, creative director and president of Mayflower Spa. "While you are at the spa you are working towards a peaceful mind and relaxed body. It is at times like this that guests can give them-selves permission to explore their creativity. They are receptive and aware and open to new experiences."
Although many spa-goers are satisfied with a weekend retreat, others are looking for a week or longer to unwind and take in what is needed for real rejuvenation. A truly effective retreat provides each participant with the tools necessary for transformation. Most spa-goers have had relaxing experiences—the experiences they remember are those that touch them on a core level and speak to that part of them that longs for balance, answers, or peace of mind. They also want to walk away from the experience feeling as if they truly got their money's worth, regardless of whether they spent $500 or $5,000. They will return again and again, if this is the case.
As for marketing your spa's retreat, remember to focus on its necessity. A retreat is effectively marketed when you sell the need. Chances are you have made the time for a friend or family member that required your support. When you remind your clients that they must take care of themselves in order to be healthy, happy, and successful in life, you're doing them, as well as yourself, a favor. —Elizabeth Trinkaus with additional reporting from Heather Mikesell
Elizabeth Trinkaus is an author and the owner of Pinnacle View, a life-enrichment consulting company. She is also a designer of spa workshops and retreats. (919) 968-1620; www.pinnacleview.net.