Popular Pilgrimage

Recently acquired by Grace Hotels and rebranded as such, The Mayflower Grace (Washington, CT) made headlines when it debuted The Mayflower Spa in May 2006. In a departure from other destination spas, the Mayflower offered guests unlimited treatments as part of their stay. The idea was to encourage guests to sample a variety of services without feeling limited by price. While that operational blueprint has evolved to resemble more traditional programming, the spa still gives guests the opportunity to experience unlimited treatments with its all-inclusive Above and Beyond Experience (starting at $4,000, 3 days). In fact, the spa has built a reputation on going that extra mile to leave guests with a lasting impression, starting with the grand facilities. The 20,000-square-foot Spa House features eight treatment rooms, two movement studios, a private Pilates studio, a workout room with Technogym cardio and strength-training equipment, an indoor pool and whirlpool, a signature Thermal Sanctuary, and a full-service salon. Known as a relaxing and luxurious New England retreat, the spa employs more than 50 staff members to cater to guests and keep them coming back. “We have seen a significant increase in treatment revenue over the last couple of years and are also very pleased with the increase in the percentage of new guests in 2013,” says spa director Helen Brown. Here, she shares how this sophisticated spa continues to prosper when luxury falls out of favor.


How has The Mayflower Spa continued to succeed in these trying times?

A. We have focused on maintaining our standards and doing what we do best—providing superlative personalized service in a beautiful, luxurious, and intimate setting to a very select group of guests.


Why do you think the business has been able to succeed where others have failed?

A. Our extremely loyal repeat guests have continued to visit us throughout and to act as our very best ambassadors, referring many of their friends and bringing us new business both as leisure and corporate guests.


How has the spa evolved over  the years to stay current?

A. We continually work to differentiate ourselves from other properties through the addition of slightly unusual offerings, whether it be treatments, product lines, or activities that fit the Mayflower brand. We add them only after a careful review process, when we truly believe that it would enhance the guest experience or might help them to better address pre-existing issues. For example, this past year, we added a specialized Mayflower Motherhood menu to enhance the spa experience of prenatal guests, as well as Arvigo abdominal massage to help address challenges we heard some of our guests express on previous visits. On a more light-hearted note, we added fencing, both as a group and as a private activity, and it has been a huge success, generating much interest and offering our guests the chance to discover a fun new challenge for both mind and body.


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

A. We focus on providing the best possible experience for each and every guest, striving to identify what it is exactly that they specifically need the most from their stay and doing our  absolute best to provide that for them. Once guests have experienced The Mayflower Spa, it is rare that they do not recommend us to their friends and rarer still that they wouldn’t be talking about planning their next stay before they even leave us at the end of their first one.


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

A. We use it to raise awareness of specialty programs, seasonal packages, and new activities on the horizon. We started to use social media actively this past year and have seen a gratifying boost in guest engagement and interest in even this short time.


What impact has the rebranding as a Grace property had on the spa?

A. Guests are curious and excited about the hotel becoming part of a global brand with some truly beautiful hotels in very exciting destinations. That alone has generated a positive buzz for the entire property, including the spa. Past guests are planning to return more quickly than usual so as to be the first to see what is happening, especially bearing in mind the significant improvements already underway for the restaurant and guest rooms.  


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

A. We focus on our key markets and core business and work to make sure we are the destination of choice for those segments. The ability of our team members to connect with each individual guest on an emotional level on every possible occasion has a great impact on the conversion of first-time guests into repeat ones. We also strive to maintain open, regular communication within the team so as to maximize creative thinking and maintain positive morale. Leadership is especially important during challenging times, and attitude is paramount, so we try to act with purpose and optimism and continue to incorporate fun into the workplace where appropriate.—Compiled by Heather Mikesell