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The changes brought by the pandemic herald fresh opportunities for tourism, hospitality, and wellness. In order for the industry to respond, Andrew Gibson says we need a new role of wellness director and it’s time for the spa director to evolve into it…

We are likely to see increased demand for services teaching how to live well Dean Drobot/shutterstock

The pandemic has fuelled a greater interest in the concept of self care and a recognition of the need to take personal responsibility for our own welfare. As a result, after all the hardship there is now some degree of optimism about the future of the new normal.

The development of technology to create devices to measure and track our health have made the concept of wellness a part of our daily consciousness. All of this should bode well for the spa, wellness, and tourism industry, but it will mean a change in approach from operators to respond to trends by creating a broader offering which will support overall wellbeing of employees, guests and the wider community.

Wider wellbeing
The craving for human touch, restoration of health and fitness and the desire to reward or pamper oneself will most likely create a surge in demand for the typical spa services and continue a healthy demand once the surge has passed.

Added to this we are likely to see demand for wider wellbeing services teaching people how to live well, such as meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques; healthy eating; awareness of mental wellness and stress resilience; supporting family bonding; educational classes and activities which provide information on self-care; the evolution of services and diagnostics.

This provides a great opportunity for the role of the spa director to adapt. However, unless there is a corporate shift in brand values, with a resulting change in the management structure, it is unlikely the general hotel operator will recognise this much needed role. It is up to spa directors to take control and become the wellness director in everything but title.

Positive workplace
While spa services are probably defined by the range of facilities on offer, the hotel often has many other facilities ideally suited to expanding the wellness package, creating additional revenue opportunities, improving the wellness of colleagues working at the hotel, increasing the publicity and marketing awareness of the hotel and promoting a positive workplace.

This will require a lot of time and commitment beyond the spa directors’ job description and pay scale, but the rewards are worth it. The workplace will become more positive. Once they become part of this movement, teams will likely become more motivated, which often results in greater guest satisfaction. Often healers find their best reward is through helping others.

By taking this step, spa directors are likely to become better equipped to develop their own careers in the expanding wellness industry, which looks likely to become one of the most significant industries in society over the next 10 years. It’s time to step up. l

How to evolve from spa director to wellness director

• While you may be the spa director there is no reason why you should not be thinking as a wellness director, with a positive attitude. Approach this with a desire to do well for your colleagues and guests rather than a way to get promotion, higher salary or recognition.

• Put your creative hat on.

• Become the source of knowledge for wellness within your community. Network and create relationships with wellness providers, therapists, healers and community services so you have resources to draw upon and a network of support.

• ith the support of your human resources department, become the self-appointed director of wellness for the employees. Start with simple activities for your colleagues. Use your network of therapists and wellness providers to offer classes, lectures, and services internally to your colleagues. Lunch time lectures on healthy eating or mindful stress relief are likely to be popular. Convince the hotel management to provide healthy options on the staff menu. Once your colleagues engage in wellness services and learn to appreciate the value of wellness, they are likely to become your biggest supporter and will help create ideas which can expand to your guests.

• Align with your food and beverage manager and chefs to see how to expand the healthy options menu. Seek to take this further into open table meetings for guests with the chef, to classes, open kitchen, nutritionist support and info charts so that guests understand your hotel philosophy on food.

• Align with the functions (events / banqueting) manager to seek out alternative options and times to be able to use the meeting spaces.

Spa directors need to get creative / Gingerkitten Shutterstock
About the author:

Andrew Gibson has been part of senior management teams which have created iconic spa and wellness brands around the world including the Retreat at Aphrodite Hills, Six Senses, Mandarin Oriental, Raffles, Fairmont, Swissotel and Sensei. He is one of the founding members and advisory board directors of Global Wellness Summit and founder of the Wellness Tourism Association.

Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2022 issue 1
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