The Beauty of Bathing

Most of us know that the word "Spa" is an acronym for salus per aquam, or health through water. As modern-day spas have developed, however, the connection with water is not always present. Many new spas have opted not to include hydrotherapy services due to factors like expensive and hard-to-market services. Many spa-goers have never had a hydrotherapy service and probably don't even realize the origins of the word. But who better to introduce them to hydrotherapy than their favorite spa? Your spa clients are getting more adventurous, and hydrotherapy equipment has made many technological advances over the past several years. It may be time to consider adding to or updating the hydrotherapy services on your menu.

 The Spa at The Broadmoor features two Serenity Showers, which are each equipped with 20 showerheads.
The Spa at The Broadmoor features two Serenity Showers, which are each equipped with 20 showerheads.

The old standards, such as a Vichy shower and a hydrotherapy tub, are still available, but there are new materials, finishes, and features, which may also include digital programming for ease of operation. Updated equipment is also more likely to be multifunctional, giving you more options within each treatment and, often, the ability to perform massages when the equipment is not being used for hydrotherapy treatments. New developments include heated water mattresses, chromatherapy features, vapor baths, steam tables, dry hydrotherapy, and gravity-free effects. For example, Lemi USA offers the Aemotio Spa, a spa cabin equipped with six different functions. "Clients today are looking for a new and multi-sensory experience, and spas want equipment that is simple and efficient," says Tiffany Shepard, office manager at Lemi USA. Pevonia Equipment now offers the AquaScape, a dry hydrotherapy system, in which the client is separated from the water by a waterproof material. "This system allows the client to experience the warmth of the water, the sensation of floating, and a gentle water massage while enjoying the chromatherapy experience, all without getting wet," says sales manager Vince Legut. These are among the numerous new features to be found in current hydrotherapy equipment.

Treatments at Sage Springs Spa at Sunriver Resort (OR) often conclude with a refreshing Vichy shower.
Treatments at Sage Springs Spa at Sunriver Resort (OR) often conclude with a refreshing Vichy shower.

Keeping the Logistics in Mind

If you are not currently offering hydrotherapy treatments and would like to, there are some logistical issues to consider in order to maximize your revenue. The part of the treatment where the client is actually using the equipment and getting wet may be 10 to 20 minutes, but you'll need to create longer booking times to accommodate both prep and cleanup.

Most hydrotherapy treatments will also incorporate algae, botanicals, essential oils, milk, muds, and seaweeds, which enhance the treatment, but they can be difficult to clean and remove from both the equipment and linens. Consider using dark-colored towels for your body treatments, and launder these soiled linens separately from white towels and robes. Residue buildup from both the treatment ingredients and water remnants can create a host of problems for hydrotherapy equipment. Sanitizing traditional equipment requires using cleaning solvents and cycling them through the equipment. Pipeless units, such as those manufactured by Sanijet, use single, removable jets and eliminate stagnant water that can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Resources
Resources

When creating a hydrotherapy area, consider both the equipment you will use and the flow of treatments that are involved. For instance, you may want to escort a client from a soak in a hydrotub to a table for a finishing application of moisturizer or even a massage. If you plan to perform those services within the same room, it will have to be incorporated in the design layout. On the other hand, placing the hydrotherapy equipment into a separate but adjoining area will allow you to continue the service with the client in a separate area while the hydrotherapy equipment can be cleaned and readied for the next guest, optimizing your booking cycle. Whatever you decide, be sure to engage the services of a qualified and experienced designer before spending money on construction or equipment. They will more than pay for themselves in the resulting optimized revenue and elimination of potential flaws in the plan.

Make Marketing a Must

Hydrotherapy services are a natural extension of the wellness theme at most spas, but your clients may need more information on the benefits before they book a service. Along with your service providers, your entire customer service staff needs to be trained on the virtues of water-based treatments and should be the practice models for your therapists. This also gives them the opportunity to experience the services themselves and will enable you to recognize small details that will make the services more user-friendly and comfortable, such as a handy hook for a robe, grab bars to facilitate entry and exit from equipment, Dri-Dek tiles to keep floors from getting slippery when wet, and pillows or padding for head comfort.

A hydrotherapy bath is a key element of the couples' treatment room at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (Australia).
A hydrotherapy bath is a key element of the couples' treatment room at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (Australia).

Woodhouse Day Spas (various locations) include hydrotherapy equipment in all of their locations. According to Lynda Torrey, director of research and development for Woodhouse Day Spas, hydrotherapy treatments are ideal for addressing the need for detoxification. "Additionally, toning and firming the skin with the use of alternate hot and cold hydrotherapy is always a wellness benefit and popular in the spa market," says Torrey. "We also include hydrotherapy treatments in our spa packages to introduce it to guests who typically wouldn't buy it for themselves."

Julie Oliff, spa marketing director at The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs, CO), agrees that most guests won't just buy a bath or shower treatment alone. Instead, they will enjoy them if they are incorporated into complete experiential treatments. The Spa at The Broadmoor offers two signature services using its Vichy showers, including the Mountain Showers Massage ($145, 50 minutes), which mimics the sounds, scents, and feel of being caught in a mountain thunderstorm. The spa also features two Serenity Showers, designed by TAG Galyean, which are computerized and feature various amenities. Each shower is equipped with 20 showerheads that can be tailored to a client's height and to his or her desired results, including temperature and pressure effects.

If you decide to offer hydrotherapy, you need to plan properly in order to be successful and pay attention to integrating the hydrotherapy components into the treatment menu. "The Vichy is not the showpiece itself, but it's an integral part of the experience," says Oliff. "Enjoying a scrub or wrap with a Vichy shower, the client can surrender to the expertise of the therapist and the sensations provided by the equipment. Head to toe, clients feel like they have had a multi-sensory exotic treatment, taking them physically and mentally out of their normal space and providing for a very memorable spa experience." —Lisa M. Starr

Lisa M. Starr is the senior east coast business consultant to new and existing spas and salons for Wynne Business. Contact her via email at [email protected]ess.com.

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