While spa services and activities add lasting value to resort meetings, they do require careful planning and a can-do attitude. Here is what resort sales and spa managers recommend.
Plan Ahead: It’s never too early to start planning the spa component of a meeting, particularly at resorts where the spa is a star attraction, advised Justin Gephart, director of sales and conference services for Destination Kohler in Kohler, Wis.
“Our spa books up quickly, so it’s critical to sit down with the group coordinator as far in advance as possible,” he said. “We encourage groups to take advantage of our hydrotherapy water treatments, but only so many can be given at one time.”
Joyce Owens, spa director at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., agrees that advance planning is essential. She noted that while attendees can book individual treatments on their own, special services for groups need to be worked into the hotel contract.
“If you want to nail something down in the contract, that needs to be pre-booked,” she said. “If attendees are just booking treatments on their own, we can be more flexible.”
Communicate Objectives: Planners need to let spa and conference services managers know about the wellness objectives of the meeting and work closely with them to set a schedule that helps meet those goals, said Leslie Johnson, spa director for the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
“It’s important to determine a desired outcome right away in order to create an itinerary that is dynamic and allows for creativity and movement,” she said. “Be sure to outline the importance of wellness and the company’s wellness philosophies during any pre-conference meetings.”
Think Outside the Box: Planners are often surprised at how innovative and flexible resort spas can be when it comes to providing customized services and amenities for meetings, according to Marissa Bernal, spa manager for the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz.
“If you have an idea of what you would like to introduce to your attendees, just go ahead and ask for it,” she said. “We love to be flexible and do things that are out of the ordinary for us. If you want sunrise yoga for 200 people, we will make it happen. No request is inconceivable.”
Jennifer Edwards, spa group sales manager for the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis., has a similar take.
“Planners should not be afraid to ask for extras and things beyond the norm,” she said. “Do you want private classes, an early opening of the spa or customized healthy meals? We can do a lot of things for groups that are not available to the regular hotel guests.”