When members of the Stone Creek Club & Spa in Covington, LA, need a place to relax, the club’s spa area is often their first choice.
Well, of course.
In addition to providing post-exercise relief, a well-appointed and professionally staffed spa can serve as an oasis, a place where people of all ages can enjoy a respite from the accelerating pace, proliferating demands, and many unsettling events that, increasingly, seem to define our lives these days.
The 7,500-square-foot spa, part of a 53,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, is appointed with state-of-the-art equipment, skilled massage therapists and technicians, and a soothing, nature-inspired décor.
“Our spa has the look and feel of a destination resort, even though it’s part of a local health club,” says Katie Santangelo, Stone Creek’s spa director. “Members feel that they can really unplug here.”
There are a wide variety of ways to do so, including 30-, 60-, and 90-minute massages, full-body exfoliation treatments, facials, peels, manicures and pedicures, hair removal, makeup applications, and tanning.
This broad menu of services is attracting a growing number of clients of all ages, and, as a result, the spa’s revenues have grown 12% annually for the past three years. However, the typical patron is trending younger. More and more millennials—adults under 35—are taking advantage of the spa’s offerings. For several reasons:
Many are well-educated and attuned to contemporary trends. They have their own package of lifestyle-related issues, concerns, and challenges to deal with. And they tend to have a stronger interest in their well-being than other generations.
“They view spa treatments as part of their wellness plan,” Santangelo says, “and, so, are more comfortable treating themselves to a service.”
Research indicates that the young people in this cohort will be the principal spa consumers of the future. They’re the largest generation on earth, and have a whopping $200 billion in buying power in the U.S., and $2.4 trillion’s worth globally. And a recent report from the International Spa Association (IPSA), based in Lexington, KY, indicates that 60% of them are invested in their personal well-being, and 56% are already spa-goers. Similarly, 70% say that, if they had some extra time or money, they’d spend it on health and fitness.
For clubs with a spa, or clubs thinking about adding spa services, this cohort is one that needs to be cultivated and catered to.
Many savvy operators of club-based spas have consciously begun striving to meet the growing demand of millennials, observes Kevin Caldabaugh, the president of the Club Spa and Fitness Association (CSFA), headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Clubs with existing spa components are introducing more services, and the blueprints for new facilities frequently include state-of-the-art, on-site spas.
“Years ago, most private club spas focused solely on massage because that’s what members wanted,” recalls Caldabaugh, who’s also the fitness director for the John’s Island Club, in Vero Beach, FL. But now, he says, members are interested in a host of other services, including facials, body scrubs, manicures and pedicures, salt rooms, cosmetic care, and, even, noninvasive body contouring.
The result? “Today, clubs are designing award-winning spa facilities, providing their members with a desirable and valuable amenity, and seeing dramatic increases in their nondues revenue.”
Another unintended development, but one with broad implications, is that millennials’ greater understanding and appreciation of the concept of wellness seems to be inspiring a change in the way that others view spas.
“Massage, for example, has gone from being considered a luxury service to being recognized as what it truly is—a therapeutic health benefit,” says Caldabaugh. “It can be very beneficial for people struggling with debilitating diseases, even those with cancer.”
Santangelo agrees. “The fact that treatments are offered at a health club promotes the idea that they’re part of a wellness plan. For example, while our massage therapists help clients relax, the service is actually a bit more on the prescriptive side. For instance, they may tell a member with a tennis injury, ‘OK, you got this service today, and I’d like to see you back in two weeks.’”
The approach leads to better results and more repeat bookings.
If there’s one thing that millennials are influencing— perhaps more than anything else at Stone Creek—it’s the items that are displayed on the spa’s retail shelves. The common denominator can be summed up in just two words: all natural.
“Young adults tend to be more aware of what’s in the products they use, and about the long-term effects certain chemicals can have on their health,” explains Santangelo. “A decade ago, it was all about tanning beds and acrylic nails.”
Now, she says—not so much. If they want tanning services, they’ll opt for the organic air- brush spray tan, and, if they want their nails done, they’ll request natural, light-activated nail applications that don’t contain parabens or polymers.
DermAware, a New Orleans–based line of all-natural, bio-targeted skincare products, is by far the best-selling product, generating 68% of the spa’s retail sales. “It’s a local company, and their products produce results, and don’t contain chemicals that many people feel uneasy about using long-term,” says Santangelo. “This is crucial for our younger users.”