Marriott International's global head of spa Kenneth Ryan has revealed the company is preparing two new major spa concepts for its St. Regis and W Hotels hospitality brands, during an exclusive interview with Spa Business
The new concept for St. Regis – called simply, St. Regis Spa – will be rolled out to all St Regis hotels (currently 44 destinations), with the first unveiling recently launched at the St. Regis Bermuda Resort in June 2021.
“The new spa concept will layer the rich patina of St. Regis traditions with a sheen of contemporary glamour to meet the needs of the modern customer.
“Celebration is a big brand pillar of St Regis, so we focused on bringing celebrations into our spa by asking ‘what does that look like in a spa?’,” says Ryan.
The narrative of the new spa, he says, will be “comfortable, familiar, entertaining and residential.
In the spirit of The St. Regis founder, John Jacob Astor, guests will feel as though they’re being invited into one of his private estates.”
To bring the concept to life, he adds: “We didn’t want the imposing formality of a traditional reception desk. Rather, we want guests to feel as though they’re entering a grand foyer and the celebration is waiting for them.
“It won’t be devoid of a check-in area, but the desk will be more for staff to perform admin duties, rather than act as a transactional space for guests, as this can take place in other areas of the spa.
“There’ll be a Celebration Bar, where guests can receive a fresh-pressed juice, or a glass of champagne if it’s that time of day (all St. Regis sites still honour the sabring of the champagne ritual at 4.00 pm).”
All upcoming openings – including the Dominican Republic, Dubai and China – will have the new spa concept, while all existing spas in the collection will be gradually transitioned over time.
The second standout concept to be rolled out this year is a re-imagining of the Away Spa at W Hotels.
“The Away Spa concept has been around for quite some time and will now undergo a complete transformation. The only thing that will stay the same is the name,” says Ryan.
W customers, he adds, “want everything available to them all the time, they don’t like rules and they don’t want to miss out.”
To meet some of these demands, the Away Spa will move away from a tranquil concept towards a livelier ‘social spa’ experience.
Dallas, Texas, will be the next site to showcase the new concept, followed by a new build project in Philadelphia.
Ryan says: “The arrival point will offer a social hub, with areas for quick-fix treatments (things you can do fully clothed) and open areas with upbeat music where friends can socialise and have a giggle.”
However, Ryan is mindful that ‘social spa-ing’ is not for everyone, and that Marriott International must also provide for ‘the other half’.
“Our research shows we have two main types of spa clients – those who want to switch off and have ‘alone time’ and those who want to relax and have fun with friends. And sometimes these two requirements can be found in the same guest, during the same visit.
“Away Spa will provide for both guests – there will be more private spaces and cabanas away from the social buzz, where guests can escape and feel safe in all ways – physically and mentally.” Spa Business
asked Ryan how he felt ‘social spa-ing’ will fit in a more cautious world since the coronavirus outbreak, where most have become used to social distancing, masks and periods of isolation?
“For one thing, social spa-ing is not a new thing – it’s a trend that we’ve seen at Marriott International for the past three to four years.
“Increasingly our guests want to ‘social-spa’ with family and friends – those who they know, like and trust – and of course the desire to do that will become even stronger as we come out of COVID-19.”
To read Spa Business
’ full interview with Ryan
about navigating lockdowns, re-imagining the company’s portfolio and what it will take to succeed in the aftermath of COVID, click here