In Focus: Bathhouse

Las vegas is a city of fantasy and image, and what visitors coming to this desert Shangri-la crave, above all, is experience with a capital E. If superior service is used to differentiate one company from another, companies must now compete by providing customers with superior experiences. Nowhere, perhaps, is this more pronounced than on the Strip.

 The first floor lounge is cool but not cold.
The first floor lounge is cool but not cold.

After years of operating resorts and casinos, the Mandalay Bay Resort Group has developed a keen sense of the evolution of the resort experience in Las Vegas. In the past, that experience has been defined by kitschy themes embodied in hotels like the Luxor, the Venetian, and the Paris. Some have spas but don't emphasize them.

Guests can lounge on chaises around the women's pool.
Guests can lounge on chaises around the women's pool.

In THEhotel and Bathhouse, Mandalay Bay's new boutique hotel and spa, the new Vegas resort experience has more sublime aspirations. Both hotel and spa focus on design—more modern and hip. And unlike other hotel spas on the Strip, this spa takes center stage and is more customized to individual needs.

Retro colors in a second floor lounge are a refreshing contrast to charcoal surfaces.
Retro colors in a second floor lounge are a refreshing contrast to charcoal surfaces.

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Mandalay Bay's decision to build the Strip's first boutique hotel and spa was as much about finding a competitive edge as it was about overcapacity at its flagship resort, which hosts 8,000 visitors a day. Demand for its spa was so high that guests were forced to endure long waits. The high-style emphasis at the Bathhouse isn't for its own sake but for a specific demographic that the company believed would respond to a swank aesthetic; namely, baby boomers with a household income of $120,000 a year.

The tastefully minimalist decor of the manicure stations mirrors the calming design of the rest of the Bathhouse
The tastefully minimalist decor of the manicure stations mirrors the calming design of the rest of the Bathhouse

"Baby boomers have good discretionary income, desire a [unique] experience, and are willing to pay for it," says Scott Voeller, Mandalay Bay's vice president of marketing. "What we tried to create was something where you literally felt as though you weren't in Las Vegas anymore. When you come into THEhotel and Bathhouse, you feel as if you've been transported to an entirely different place."

Guests in the relaxation lounge can view other  guests enjoying the pool.
Guests in the relaxation lounge can view other guests enjoying the pool.

That place is one of reflection—the opposite of the hyperkinetic and bustling Strip. The Bathhouse's 13 treatment rooms are deliberately set on the second floor to remove guests from the hubbub. The spa is austere yet sensual; walls upholstered in ultra suede and corridors fitted with waterfalls imbue the space with Zenlike calm. "We moved drastically away from the traditional spa design vocabulary, which is soft and has a tendency to be very feminine and decorative," says Haidar Sadeki, the spa's designer.

The women's vanity area.
The women's vanity area.

The emphasis on creating a unique experience is most evident in the offering of customized treatments. One such treatment is the highly popular Sense of You massage. Guests fill out a short questionnaire that provides the spa with their personality profile and identifies their goals in visiting the spa, for example dealing with a specific skin condition.

The spa's entrance.
The spa's entrance.

The information is then fed into a proprietary software program developed by Aromapothecary (the product line used in the massage), and the program generates a prescription for each guest's treatment. "We have drawers filled with essential oils, and the program tells us which oils to use and how many drops we need to put into the product," says spa manager Carmen Wagner. "[In the reception area], we put the oils in a vial, bag it, and send it up to the treatment room with the guest," she says. "Then in front of the guest, the therapist pours the vial into the treatment product he or she will be using."

Steam rooms line the path to the men's pool
Steam rooms line the path to the men's pool

There are other opportunities to give guests a sense that this is a special place. Guests can purchase a skincare product from the retail area and apply it themselves inside the spa rather than have it applied by an esthetician.

TV's at the pedicure stations and private showers in the treatment rooms add convenience to the spas list of benefits.
TV's at the pedicure stations and private showers in the treatment rooms add convenience to the spas list of benefits.

Reminiscent of the European spas that were designed to be community spaces, Bathhouse has public areas where guests can congregate during a treatment of their own design. "While you're sitting with your friends, you can have a cucumber facial for twenty minutes, shower, and then go to the Jacuzzi," says Sedeki. "It's rare in a spa to be able to buy a product and test it yourself while you're in the spa."

BATHHOUSE AT THEHOTEL AT MANDALAY BAY
BATHHOUSE AT THEHOTEL AT MANDALAY BAY

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