A grand retreat with its wood-beamed exterior, inviting suites, cast-iron fireplaces, and handcrafted Adirondack furnishings, Whiteface Lodge (Lake Placid) is located in Adirondack Park, a six-million-acre recreation area in upstate New York. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the property also entices guests with The Spa at Whiteface Lodge, which debuted in 2006. The 8,000-square-foot spa, featuring eight treatment rooms, offers spa-goers a tempting menu with signature treatments, such as The Lodge Mud Wrap (starting at $145, 50 minutes) and the Apple Cider Masque and Massage (starting at $180, 80 minutes). According to spa director Jamie Costa, the spa has grown over the last four years far beyond industry standards. In fact, since 2012, revenue has increased by 39 percent. In addition, the total number of spa treatments booked has increased by 23 percent, and the average service rate has increased by 10 percent. “In 2012, Urgo Hotels and Resorts took over management of the lodge and named Chris Pulito general manager,” says Costa. “Chris is also the corporate director of spas and fitness for Urgo Hotels and Resorts. Together, Chris and I have grown the bottom line by 66 percent.” Here, Costa shares how they’ve achieved such gains.
To what do you attribute The Spa at Whiteface Lodge’s success over
A. We’ve been successful by implementing daily and weekly yield management of treatment pricing, with both discounts and value-added offers. This has driven “value-minded” spa guests to book slower days and times. Our peak periods still sell out, because we are able to convert previous wait-list guests into treatments. The gross number of services increase by using the same approach revenue managers use to sell hotel rooms—here we’re just applying them to treatment beds. We also started a very successful Spa Club for locals looking for a premium resort club experience. Our facilities and classes are staffed and maintained for the resort guest, so nearly 100 percent of the income flows to the bottom line.
What are some of the biggest challenges in operating the spa?
A. In a seasonal resort area, staffing and skill set remain the top two challenges. Driving local business and seasonal spa treatments has improved, but it still remains a financial challenge
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. We have a heavy focus on public relations and marketing to capture new visitors. We’re also working to improve the capture rate percentage among the 82,000 guests who frequent our all-suite resort. A combination of package treatments and bounce-back offers is key with repeat clients and in getting the locals to visit more frequently.
How do you keep the treatment menu fresh and enticing?
A. We work with the best spa product vendors and our lead therapists to keep treatments current with the latest techniques and products. We follow spa industry trends very closely to be sure we stay ahead of the curve.
How do you keep your staff motivated?
A. Keeping the staff involved in current and future planning is key. We also hold staff appreciation events and throw some contests and competition into the mix for sales and requested treatments.
What plans do you have for the future?
A. This year, we launched a series of full-day wellness retreats. As we move into the second part of the year, our focus is on overnight retreats. Ultimately, we’d like to fine-tune these programs and roll out a series of midweek, multi-day events focusing on yoga, outdoor wellness, organic living, heart-healthy eating, and more to make this a year-round destination spa.