When the original spa at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, Bali, was built 28 years ago, it was one of the first high-end facilities on the island. Back then it was ahead of its time and has aged beautifully, but it was time for an upgrade.
Over the past three years it’s been reimagined as The Healing Village Spa based on seven healing attributes of ‘water, community, gemstones, light, sound, plants and love’. It’s been knocked down, reconfigured and enlarged with a two-storey extension, making the overall 2,000sq m footprint 70 per cent bigger. The building appears to ‘float on water’ and its contemporary Balinese design provides a stunning backdrop for the 10 suites and innovative treatments that combine light, sound, thermal and colour therapy.
Luisa Anderson, who oversees 10 resort spas in Asia Pacific for Four Seasons, has led the project by drawing on her 22 years in spa and wellness to source and create everything.
How would you describe Healing Village Spa?
It’s sophisticated, but warm and inviting. It’s modern, yet preserves the culture and craftsmanship of Bali. I love the sound of water everywhere, from the ponds to fountains, and the greenery and open air are health giving within themselves. It’s a place you want to linger and be enveloped by.
What are you most proud of?
Many of our treatment suites are completed with outdoor relaxation areas which is a real luxury, but the redesign left us with a windowless room that we didn’t know what to do with. This is now home to our Illume Room which is one of my favourite spaces.
Being sealed from outside light, the Illume Room maximises the power of chromotherapy which can be prescribed according to guests’ needs. We worked closely with colour therapist Tricia Sharkey, of The Colour Wellness Center, to create these detailed programmes. A surround sound system pipes out music specially composed and engineered here in Bali (including sounds of Jimbaran Bay) and seven alchemy crystal singing bowls add to the high vibrations. Treatments, which start at IDR2.1m (US$143, €121, £111) for 60 minutes, are performed on a Gharieni bed with heated, crushed quartz crystals. They stimulate inner healing responses and immerse the guest in light, sound and colour.
Another Bali first, our Longevity Garden, is a private DIY treatment space in a lush ‘secret’ hideaway that’s priced at IDR1.2m (US$82, €69, £63) for 75 minutes. Couples take their time to enjoy self-directed healing and nourish each other with local organic products including Indonesian volcanic mud wraps and coconut soap. To maximise mineral absorption, there’s a private steamroom and sun loungers equipped with infra-red gemstone therapy mats by HealthyLine. A cleanse under the powerful waterfall shower is followed by an invigorating ice bath immersion.
How challenging has it been to handle a major reopening during coronavirus?
It’s been relatively smooth, surprisingly. We had a long time to prepare as we began construction in April 2019. As the hotel was closed for four months from April through to July 2020 due to the global pandemic, we actually sped up some elements of construction, which otherwise would have taken longer if we’d been open to guests. Training was difficult as we needed to observe physical distancing and rostering was tricky since many therapists were on various types of leave.
Maintaining momentum while delaying the ‘big fanfare’ of a new opening has been challenging. We would normally have had many international media experiencing the spa by now. Instead we’ve set up virtual spa tours which end with a crystal sound meditation session with me, along with handmade gifts, and that’s been a great way to connect.
We’ve invited many influential locals too which has helped iron out kinks and stimulate some business.
How have you prepared for operating while COVID-19 is still circulating?
All protocols in the resort align with Four Seasons’ Lead with Care programme which was established in consultation with international medical specialists. These include things that have been easy to implement in the spa, such as temperature checks on arrival and showers before treatments, although explaining therapies to guests is tricky when therapists are wearing both a face mask and shield. We’ve worked with Book4Time to get our spa software up to date for a contactless experience (outside of the treatment, of course) with elements like online intake forms, QR codes so guests can access menus on their own devices and bill charges to the room.
How have you adapted treatments?
When choosing suppliers we picked ISUN because it uses wild-crafted, organic ingredients infused with gemstones. Many of its treatments, however, incorporate facial components which we’re not allowed to offer at present, so we’ve temporarily replaced these with energy work.
We limit locker and steam/sauna use to two guests at a time, but as every treatment room is a suite with private facilities, this has little impact.
The Longevity Garden is a great space for private outdoor DIY treatments which we expect to be even more popular now.
One of my favourite experiences is also touchless. It uses a Vichy shower by Hydro Co which is fully computerised – there are pre-set programmes and we’ve also created our own with chakra lights and music. It also reduces water usage by 50 per cent which was a key point for us.
How is business at the moment?
COVID aside, the spa at Jimbaran Bay is very successful. Over the years, it’s had profit margins of 45-60 per cent and capture rates of 11-20 per cent. Average treatment price has increased year on year along with inflation and guests taking longer treatments.
We’re expecting business to improve when international travel resumes but I’m not going to sugar-coat it, at the moment it’s tough. Bali’s borders have been closed since March and international visitors are our core market. Our strategy is to build our day guest business from local residents, as well as improving capture from domestic hotel guests.
We’re using social media, personal invites and bespoke days for groups. And we’re offering many promotions with unprecedented value, such as our Stay Longer – Second Night Free room offer. We have one of the island’s most successful Beach Club restaurants, Sundara, which is an all-time favourite place in Bali and attracts many outside guests, so we’re also offering promotions in tandem with the F&B team.
How is business in your other spas across Asia?
I oversee 10 spas at Four Seasons’ resorts in Bali, the Maldives, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. All of these are open except for Nam Hai in Vietnam due to government restrictions and that’s due to reopen on 1 December.
Some spas are doing better than others. Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives never closed and even at the height of the pandemic it still had guests who chose to stay on the island. It now has other international guests and therefore a higher occupancy and higher-spending guests than Bali. Langkawi has also done quite well with the local Malaysian market. In Thailand, Koh Samui secured some local business with a spa treatment included in the stay and Chiang Mai had a very successful advance spa voucher campaign.
What’s the strategy to boost business moving forward? Visibility, innovation and connection. Keep on developing meaningful experiences, deepening the offerings and collaborating with ‘top of their field’ wellness experts. Keep on infiltrating every aspect of the hotel business with awareness. Get this right and it will boost business once borders open and international travellers can visit Bali again.
How well will the global spa industry weather the impact of COVID-19? Once we recover from the huge fall out and financial/emotional suffering I think spas will do well. They’ll continue to evolve and be even more important in the areas of rejuvenation, education and consciousness raising.
What’s the key to surviving?
Authenticity, innovation and having the right offerings for the right market.