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INTERVIEW One key to survival is having an open mind and providing alternative wellness options

How did you attract the local market? Residents who live nearby make up 50 per cent of our spa customers, but we broadened our promotions, shifting our focus to the regional area as we saw our drive-to market becoming one of our highest producing segments. We used our new touchless services to pique interest, while still offering our wellness, healing and spa treatments and combined these with pool and beach access to help people feel relaxed and enjoy the fresh air. Did you change your pricing? We evaluated the market and market conditions within our competitive set and we carefully set our pricing near our 2019 levels. Any idea when you’ll start hitting pre-COVID numbers? Currently, spas in Miami are not permitted to exceed 50 per cent of occupancy. If we were able to go above this threshold, we would be at or near our revenues of 2019.


We’ve also introduced a range of touchless wellness experiences (see p77) which have been well received by our residents who make up 20 per cent of our market. They’re in the 60-plus demographic and many of them had anxiety over returning to massage, facial and or body treatments. Around 20 per cent of them now participate in our touch-free offers.

Overall, how is the global spa industry coping with the pandemic? Coping, I believe, is the easy part. Keeping the spa busy, providing an income to the therapists that have returned is another thing. Operators need to have open minds and provide alternative wellness options for guests, creating a safe and comfortable environment that entices people to return back. The keys to survival are pivoting, flexibility, open-mindedness and a passion for the spa and wellness industry. If we’re going to call ourselves a true wellness resort, we have to be the leaders in modelling innovation and technology. Lisa Starr is a contributing editor at Spa Business magazine ■



aving not visited a spa for nearly a year since the pandemic, to say I was excited about my time at Carillon would be an understatement! While there have been many rumours about the flaunting of COVID best practices in Florida, I saw none of that. The whole operation was extremely safety-aware. Temperatures were checked on arrival, a one-way traffic flow plan was in operation and masks were mandatory. Safety regulations also meant the spa was only allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity and locker rooms were closed, so clients have to change in the treatment rooms or hotel guests arrive in their robes. Unfortunately the impressive range of wet amenities weren’t open to the public either, although pools were. I tried a number of low-touch treatments, including the Prism Light Pod, the Vibroacoustic Elector Magnetic Infrared (VEMI) experience and a Salt Bath Float. All were enjoyable, but my favourite was the Gharieni Spa Wave table for providing an immediate, relaxing power-nap.

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I also had a delightful Cryo One Facial and a Ginger Coconut Argan Sugar Glow on the Lemi Aemotio table, both with excellent (masked) therapists, and it definitely felt great to experience human touch. While there’s been much debate about whether clients will be interested in low-touch treatments, there’s never a feeling of being left alone as spa staff explain how to use equipment and what to expect. I was certainly glad of a therapist’s presence when trying the new Everest electric cryotherapy chamber – and I wouldn’t have been able to stand the -115˚C temperature for two minutes without their encouragement on the other side of the door. Not being able to use the thermal areas was definitely a disappointment and the entire experience felt more isolated. But it was certainly much better than not going to the spa at all. As for high-touch versus low-touch, there’s definitely no substitute for human contact, but augmenting with touchless options that permit clients to relax and have some mental downtime, seems like an ideal revenue configuration. ●


Lisa Starr at Carillon Miami