Not long ago, the thought of a couples' treatment brought to mind an eager wife pulling her reluctant husband into a spa. Spas were thought of as a woman's place that "real" men avoided. Today, couples' treatments are standard for all spas that want to encourage guests to enjoy treatments that inspire romance. The result is happier spa guests and increased business from both genders.
Many spas have seen significant growth for couples' services with the benefit of bending the spa's gender traditions. The Spa at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn (Sonoma, CA) reported a 4 percent increase in demand for couples' services in the last year, comprising almost 17 percent of the total treatment volume. The Well Spa at the Miramonte Resort (Indian Wells, CA) reports that couples' services account for 7 percent of business; significant and worthy enough for any spa wanting to create its brand marketing around intimacy and togetherness. Most spas report an increase in male guests by 10 to 20 percentage points. This number is driven by both the increase in couples' treatments and the male guest's increased understanding of the lifestyle and health benefits of spas in general.
At The Bathhouse at Calistoga Ranch (Calistoga, CA), couples' treatments take place in tranquil rooms, which feature private outdoor showers and soaking tubs.
Today's male spa-goer is typically successful in life and enjoys sophisticated spa treatments for himself and his partner. "Men are so comfortable in the spa these days," says Jeannie Jarnot of The Carneros Inn and Spa in California's Napa Valley. "We are always finding women waiting for their partners who are still in the locker room steaming, showering, and grooming." To many male guests, the men's locker room is a surprising oasis where they can enjoy alone time in a male-oriented space, even when they come to the spa for "together time."
"Couples' services are in higher demand as more and more men learn to spa—not just for romantic wine country escapes on special occasions but also as a one-day getaway from the city," says David Erlich, director of spa operations at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn (Sonoma, CA). The most successful spas whisk guests away to venues couples can't recreate at home with experiences that run the gamut from serene to sublime.
The classic couples' treatment includes a romantic soak in a candlelit bath followed by a massage. This popular setting is often too intimate for other couples' treatments that may include a mother and daughter, sisters, or a few friends out for a day of spa treatments. When planning room layout, consider designing dual services without the intimacy of bathing or showering together. This may mean side-by-side tubs or showers rather than one shared. The result is the expansion of the couples' treatment room to a larger clientele.
Spa Suites 101
Spa suites are typically designed to accommodate multiple guests. However, the term "spa suite" is used to communicate several types of configurations, including:
- Upgraded hotel accommodations, complete with spa decor and ambience, with additional space for spa services and upgraded bathing fixtures.
- Hotel rooms converted to a treatment area by removing the overnight accommodations and adding changing areas, treatment tables, and upgrading shower and baths to accommodate spa services.
- Larger rooms inside the spa that allow guests space for lounging, treatments, and bathing and often include their own restroom and outdoor gardens with private pools.
"I'm a firm believer in the spa suite concept," says spa consultant Cary Collier of Blu Spas (Whitefish, MT), who has taken the concept to new heights since his company's first design of a spa suite in the early 1990s in Bali and Thailand. "It needs to be designed to fit the local market, have a clear cost/benefit, be designed to fit the service, and be marketed correctly." Collier's concept for a spa suite also includes time for guests to relax without the presence of spa staff.
"There is a growing trend in the luxury market where the spa suite is the only venue for all their spa services," says Collier. "These guests do not want to mix with other guests, and expectations include privacy, customization, and lots of butler-service choices."
The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental (New York City) features a seductive couples' suite with an antique Chinese bed, private steam shower, and fireplace tucked away in the Asian-inspired spa.
In the past few years, more and more spas are developing services that encourage all guests to partake in together. At G Spa at the Hotel Gansevoort (New York City), the spa's serene personality turns into a lounge by night where guests can gather either at the spa bar near one of three infinity-edge hydro pools or enjoy spa treatments in one of the poolside cabanas.
The concept of a couples' treatment offers all spas an outstanding opportunity to attract a broader clientele. These treatments go beyond the products and protocols of the service and make cherished memories shared between two people. What could be more rewarding than that?— Polly Johnson
Polly Johnson, vice president of Spaequip, is responsible for business development in the corporate accounts division. She has a master's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University. She can be reached at [email protected].