With today’s emphasis on holistic beauty, I was curious to learn more about whether or not there is an uptick in devices in the spa. I reached out to a number of spa and wellness professionals for their expert input.

“I have seen an uptick of devices at spa trade shows, but not necessarily an uptick in their use in spas,” notes Ella Kent, Director of Spa, Fitness, and Racquet Sports at Sea Island Resort.

“Most spas have limited capital funds for such purchases, and so make these decisions very carefully based on feedback from fellow spa professionals, guests, and members in their spaces—in addition to what they are exposed to at shows. Some of the skin analysis type machines seem to be gaining traction. The body devices are very expensive, and most of our guests receive those kinds of services from their own doctors—not while they are on vacation.”

With that said, the one device that Kent is crazy about—and that she says really delivers results to her spa guests is the Hydrafacial machine. With five esthetic rooms, Kent was able to pay off the spa’s first machine in less than four months—which led to a purchase of a second machine, and now a third—with similar ROI success.

From Anti-Aging Devices to Wellness Results

Gordon Tareta, President, Tareta Group International, says he sees a surge in anti-aging devices, and many that have corresponding home-use versions. “Manufacturers seem to have shrunk the prices of a number of these items to make them affordable, and also to try to capture retail,” he says. The majority of these devices are focused on esthetics.

Spa-goers, notes Tareta, do expect results. “If they are not selecting organics, they are choosing anti-aging, and there is a perception that equipment is required to deliver results.” They don’t rely one hundred percent on the products to do all the work, he shares. “I have experienced an uptick in guests asking whether spas have some specialty equipment, where this historically wasn’t a question they thought to ask.”

The latest piece of equipment that Tareta purchased? The 02 Oxygen Chair. “I wanted true wellness results, and to help guests improve the quality of life by lowering stress levels, improving sleep, and increasing the depth and quality of breathing,” he says. “I was looking for something that really worked, and the fact that this device doesn’t need specialty training/certification or dedicated labor to deliver use was a tremendous bonus to the spa.”

High-Tech is Here to Stay

At Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Todd Hewitt, Head of Spa, reports that his clients are actually demanding that the luxury spa brand provides high technology in its spas—from beautifully designed massage tables with all the bells and whistles to the entire array of facial and body contouring machines. “I think that people want to have the best spa experience possible, as they are in such a rush,” Hewitt explains. “Why not enjoy a massage table that goes the extra mile in providing luxury and comfort?” When it comes to esthetic devices, Hewitt’s guests are looking for something that gives them instant and lasting results.

A device that has done well for the spa and impressed Hewitt? “I am very impressed with the equipment from LPG,” he says. “Non-invasive and designed so that it cannot hurt or damage any body parts, it provides some wonderful treatments—from neck and brow lifts to treatments designed to assist someone with getting a better night’s sleep.”

Consumer Demand Create a New Concept

Holistic is a good word to describe the spas of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, so it is not surprising to learn that when the powers that be realized there was a growing demand from guests for results-driven treatments—they took the time to create a new concept that wouldn’t diminish its core values.

Image via Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

“We created a separate beauty concept ‘Beauty by Mandarin Oriental,’ which would help us safeguard our spa philosophy, but enable us to explore more results-driven treatments, which include devices,” explains Petra Roberts, Group Spa Manager, Learning & Development. The concept was a success, and with time, the beauty concept changed to “The Spa Studio.” With an independent strategy and marketing approach, Roberts and team were able to concentrate on this special area both with the design of their spas by dedicating specific space for The Spa Studio, and with the treatments and devices that were placed in that area.

“We do have both body and facial machines; however, I would say that we tend to use the facial machines on a more regular basis across the group than the body,” states Roberts. This is due to guests’ requests.

When it comes to determining which machines to implement, Roberts tends to work with the product lines that the spas partner with, as many have dedicated machines for their specific needs. “We have also implemented facial analysis devices, such as Visia, in a few of our spas,” she shares. “This enables us to show the guests the before-and-after results of their treatments.”

Is there such a thing as too many devices in the spa? “I think so,” says Kent. “If there are too many devices in one service, then the experience can become a little detached. Human touch is the key ingredient in service magic—and we don’t want to stray too off course from that.”


By:  Mary Bemis | Editorial Director, InsidersGuidetoSpas.com & Co-Curator, Cosmoprof North America Discover Green and Discover Green Leaf


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