Water Pressures

Throughout history, hydrotherapy  has proven itself to be a welcoming experience with multiple therapeutic benefits. Hammams, which are heated chambers that cleanse and purify the skin, are considered one of the original spa experiences, and spa-goers have been bathing in hot springs for centuries to help relax and improve certain skin conditions and muscle pain. Because not all spas have the advantage of an on-site hammam or natural hot springs, many have attempted to create similar experiences with the installation of hydrotherapy equipment, such as bubbling baths, jet showers, Vichy showers, and footbaths, to name a few. Although water therapy dates back to ancient times, that doesn’t mean everyone has mastered the art of selling it to today’s spa-goers. In fact, many spas fail to take advantage of their expensive hydrotherapy equipment.

Nick James, founder of Body Bliss, is surprised by the number of spas that neglect to offer services designed with their hydrotherapy equipment in mind. “As a company that creates products for spas and is frequently involved in the writing of menus and treatment protocols, one of the things that often strikes me is that spas have the equipment but don’t have services that are specifically designed to make the most of it,” he says. “Another issue is that the very real benefits offered by hydrotherapy treatments are not explained and promoted to guests.” He believes that if spas can tailor their treatments in ways that are efficacious to the equipment they have and can communicate effectively about the benefits that can be enjoyed, they will generate more interest about hydrotherapy. Plus, it can help spas soak up unexpected profits.


Immersion Therapy

When spas invest in hydrotherapy equipment, it allows them to introduce the healing benefits of water to their clients and gives them the opportunity to expand their service menus. Unfortunately, many have yet to tap into the potential their hydrotherapy equipment can yield. For example, it can be included in popular treatments like massages and facials. At The Spa at The Hotel Hershey (PA), the Whipped Cocoa Bath (starting at $45, 15 minutes) and Chocolate Hydrotherapy (starting at $55, 20 minutes) treatments are the most popular services on the menu, but hydrotherapy treatments are also incorporated into a variety of services and spa packages to encourage guests to truly maximize their spa experiences. The Chocolate Escape Package (starting at $370, 3 hours 30 minutes), for example, includes a soak in the Whipped Cocoa Bath, a Chocolate Bean Polish or Chocolate Sugar Scrub, a Chocolate Fondue Wrap, and a 50-minute Cocoa Massage.

One spa that gets it right is Kohler Waters Spa (WI), known for its innovative water therapies. The Lavender Rain (starting at $168, 50 minutes) service, which is the spa’s most popular hydrotherapy option, consists of a water treatment, exfoliation, rinse, and an application of moisturizer. The spa also offers the Bamboo Contouring Drizzle (starting at $168, 50 minutes; $209, 80 minutes), which is a results-driven treatment that incorporates the Kohler Custom Vichy Shower. “Our staff does an amazing job of thoughtfully creating services, balancing new trends with practices that are rooted in health and wellness through the ages,” says Jean Kolb, director of wellness. At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s Allegria Spa (CO), the most popular use of hydrotherapy is the Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary, a five-step self-guided water ritual encouraged for use before spa services. “It is a unique selling feature and attracts guests to the resort on a year-round basis and day spa visitors from as far as two hours away,” says general manager Gaye Steinke.

To help ensure you use the hydrotherapy equipment you have, it’s important to consider logistics. Lynn Curry, founder of Curry Spa Consulting, advises that treatment rooms featuring hydrotherapy equipment be easily accessible to other treatment rooms and areas so that the equipment can conveniently be used with another spa or wellness treatment to provide ultimate service  levels and benefit to clients. Steinke suggests putting a massage table in every wet room to maximize use of the space for wet or dry treatments. “This will also allow for a more comfortable transition for the guest from the wet portion of the treatment to the massage table,” she says.


Soaking Up Success

In order to maximize your spa’s hydrotherapy equipment, it is important that each spa employee is knowledgeable about and can explain the equipment. “It is imperative that our spa clients fully comprehend the therapeutic benefits of hydrotherapy, and that the service must be marketed and delivered with this understanding so that guests receive the full benefit and the spa receives the full revenue potential by booking the services,” says Curry. With that in mind, The Spa at The Hotel Hershey designed an intensive training program for its reception and reservation team members to provide them with all the necessary information to successfully promote hydrotherapy services to guests, according to spa sales manager Robynn Cyr. “Spa-goers want to know the benefits, and they want to know that while luxurious, they are also results driven,” says Kolb. “Educating the reservationist first and foremost to speak intelligently about the service is key. Also important is using photos in social media outlets and marketing materials to create a great visual for the guest. They want to know what is going to happen. Show them, entice them visually, and they will come.”

Spa professionals must also know which clients receive the most advantages from hydrotherapy and which should not partake in these services. “Aging and older people can benefit the most,” says Philippe Therene, founder of SpaEquip. “Mobility and joint issues, as well as muscle tension and arthritis are conditions that really improve from hydrotherapy treatments.” Kolb recommends hydrotherapy treatments to guests who are familiar with spa services because, “the first-time spa-goer may be a little too intimidated, and we have many other treatments that gently ease our guests into the world of spa.” Hydrotherapy services are not recommended, however, for people with certain skin disorders, pregnant women, people with heart conditions, and guests with high blood pressure. “Guests with achy, tense muscles are the ideal candidates; particularly those who are physically active or on their feet a majority of their day,” says Cyr. “Hydrotherapy is also a wonderful treatment for those who work primarily at their desks in front of a computer, as the warm water and jets help to soothe tight neck and shoulder muscles. It is our responsibility as spa professionals to provide guests with an environment to relax and escape the stresses of their everyday life. Hydrotherapy treatments are a wonderful way to begin this journey.”

Hydrotherapy services should also be encouraged as a way to relax pre-treatment and help prepare clients’ skin for other spa treatments that follow. “Allow guests to come to the spa prior to their treatment with enough time to use the hydrotherapy offerings—it’s always better to use prior and not after,” says Penny Kriel, spa director at Salamander Spa at Salamander Resort & Spa (Middleburg, VA). “In the down season, allow guest passes to specifically utilize the hydrotherapy for added exposure and awareness.”


Rising Waters

Although hydrotherapy has been the basis of spa treatments for centuries, Therene notes that spas are just now getting back to their original mission of using water for therapeutic benefits. “The equipment is an adjunct to water and allows hydrotherapy massage services to be performed, as well as body scrubs and contrast therapy,” he says. “Many spas want to bring back nature to their environment, and water represents the basic element of a true natural spa experience.”

As spa-goers take note and their interest in hydrotherapy continues to rise, now is the time to take advantage of this growing demand by promoting your spa’s hydrotherapy options and looking at new ways to utilize the equipment you have. Introduce new services that incorporate hydrotherapy equipment and don’t be afraid to experiment. “Spa professionals need to educate themselves on the benefits to the body and then have fun creating new and exciting treatments for their guests,” says Kolb. “The opportunities are endless as long as you have highly creative therapists who understand the body and what the power of water can do.”

Check out the innovative hydrotherapy equipment that is sure to make a splash at your spa.—Jessica Morrobel

1. BTL Industries 3000 Alfa 70 Deluxe: This touchscreen-control wellness bath is ergonomically designed with blue LED lighting around the bath’s exterior, two air massage zones for the lower body, eight water jets, and an automatic disinfection program. www.btlnet.com

2. Gharieni Libra: This spa table is equipped with a horizontal shower module, which allows clients to adjust the water  temperature, intensity, and quantity, and choose from a variety of programmed aqua choreo- graphies. www.gharieni.com

3. HydroCo Time Capsule: Ideal for full-body treatments, this system incorporates Aroma-steam, a hot steam sensation with a choice of fragrance; a Vichy shower in the capsule lid; and an LED lighting system with a selection of up to seven colors. www.hydroco.com

4. Jason Hydrotherapy International MicroSilk: Created to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize skin, this hydrotherapy bath incorporates oxygen-rich microbubbles to improve skintone and relieve irritation. www.jasoninternational.com

5. Kohler Elevance  BubbleMassage Air Bath Hydrotherapy: Combining a grab bar and a lightweight rising sidewall, this bath features a dual-drain system; a variable speed blower to adjust massage intensity; and a chair-height bathing seat. www.us.kohler.com

6. Pevonia Equipment Aemotio Spa: This system features a height-adjustable waterbed, a heated water mattress, a steam bath with aromatherapy, and five infrared lamps to stimulate cell renewal and oxygenation. www.pevoniaequipment.com