Sue Harmsworth is Founder and CEO of ESPA International. She launched as a design consultancy in 1988 and today she employs over 120 people; and has headquarters in Farnham Surrey, in the UK, San Francisco, Miami and Hong Kong.
What is old is now new. The latest trend in the spa experience is the rebirth of the Destination Spa – but with a new approach to tradition.
The discerning spa user today has a genuine need to retreat and will travel far and pay a premium to find an authentic experience in a luxury setting.
My company, ESPA, has redefined the concept of Destination Spa at One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah, on a private island in the Indian Ocean. On arrival, guests experience an in-depth personal lifestyle assessment which allows the spa to tailor a complete wellness program for the entire stay. The spa provides all aspects of tradition, from heat and water experiences to nutrition, fitness and lifestyle, blending international treatment philosophies with indulgent surroundings and breathtaking views of the ocean.
What is also a growing trend is a strong sense of Brand Loyalty, seeking out brands which guarantee the best in spa experience worldwide. Once consumers experience a spa which exceeds their expectations, this becomes their benchmark and the brand’s identity signifies a trusted level of service. ESPA branded spas are launching globally, from The Peninsula Spa by ESPA in Hong Kong to Metropole ESPA in Monte Carlo and the consumer following has become quite a phenomenon.
Some ask how spas relate with wellness, fitness and health. I would say that the Medical Spa is morphing throughout the world, trying to blend clinical treatments with a wellness spa concept. This can prove a dangerous chemistry if careful delineation of areas and markets isn’t defined. Many guests simply don’t want to mix with clients experiencing plastic surgery or in rehab when they may be visiting the spa for total solace and holistic balance. American Medi-spas are rapidly growing and attracting the elective surgery and chemical skincare consumer. By contrast the more traditional European Medical Spa is having a resurgence in a more luxurious environment, combining wellness with the modern holistic spa and often using thermal waters or seawater.
My company has lot of wellness spa projects in development. We approach guests in a holistic manner, taking into account every aspect of the person’s being and lifestyle. The connection between mind and body is more prominent than ever and the line is blurring between wellness, fitness, health and spas. Spa-goers continue to hunger for education in preventative living and our spas are providing detailed information on nutrition and lifestyle advice to help implement preventative wellness measure in daily life. Consumers realize the importance of balance in mind and body and the use of natural, organic and plant ingredients in a synthetic world. Spa home-care is no longer a luxury, it is now as essential as shampoo and conditioner.
The spa philosophy is merging into everyday life and can now be found as a household name in restaurants with a focus on spa cuisine and every supermarket featuring aromatherapy and spa products. We spend a great deal of time sharing knowledge and educating clients and consumers. I speak at such conferences such as Leading Spas of the World, the Luxury Summit and Woman’s Wear Daily, to share experiences and hoping continuously to improve and elevate standards in the industry. International travel allows us today to maintain an excellent global network of spa relationships. I try never to underestimate the importance of communication.