The future of luxury Spas: in conversation with Greg Payne, Spa Director Amanresorts

Amanresorts has been at the forefront of luxury resort Spas, establishing itself as an industry leader, banking on outstanding quality of service and innovation. Amanresorts’ Director of Spas, Mr Greg Payne, has spoken exclusively to CPP-LUXURY.COM about his vision of the future of luxury Spas and the secrets behind the continued success of Amanresorts.

How important have Spas become for a luxury hotel, nowadays? 

It is now generally recognised that spas are a “must have facility” for luxury hotels. The question now is if they are seen as being one of the key drivers that positions the property and attracts guests or if they are simply seen as being an amenity to serve existing in-house guests. This distinction will then impact the size and range of services and facilities offered within the spa.

The need to “get away” and relax, reconnect and simply enjoy a moment of indulgence has meant that spas have become increasingly important in the overall positioning of resorts, and so, we are seeing larger, full service offerings being built at these properties.

For the properties your company operates under a third party management agreement, how challenging is it for developers to understand the investment required by a Spa?

Investors can access benchmark costs per square meter and so its relatively straight forward to identify the investment costs for a spa.
The key challenge is to determine the overall size of the spa and range of facilities so that the investment is the right one for achieving
optimum returns. The mix between direct revenue generating areas (treatment rooms) and the value added facilities (sense of space, wet areas, relaxation spaces) has to reflect the understanding of how spas can add value to the overall positioning of a property, and not just been seen in the context of departmental profit.

What is your approach for each of your luxury hotel brands when it comes to Spas? Do hotels have the liberty, individually, to opt for a third party operator and/or a mono-brand options for the Spa?

All properties operate spas internally under direction and control of AmanResorts

Which of your properties provides the most comprehensive Spa offering?

We look to the potential of each location and align our spa offering with guests’ needs and the opportunity to integrate local traditions of healthcare. Our spas appeal to those who simply want to enjoy the moment and relax with a treatment, or alternatively we also have the ability toprovide an integrated program working with resident specialists inmovement and therapeutic treatments. At Amanpuri, we have a naturopath onthe team and specialists offering polarity therapy and guided meditation.

At Amanfayun, we have a T’ai Chi master, whilst at Amanzo’e, watsu practitioners use the power of water as advocated by Hippocrates foroptimising good health. Each property uses the links with nature to rovide unique experiences, including full moon yoga on the 200 million year old mesa above Amangiri or sunrise yoga in the temples of Angkor.

Do you have preferred Spa brand(s) you collaborate, internationally, at a chain level?

We don’t work with outsourced spa operators – we have our own Aman Spa Product range that is used across properties. This range is chemical free and uses the highest grade therapeutic essential oils to harness the power of nature.

How important is it for your Spas to provide guests with a sense of place by introducing local products/treatments or even décor elements?

We establish authentic links with local traditions and products to work alongside our Aman Spa Product range to provide a sense of place.Examples of this are given below to give sense of how we achieve this:

At Aman Summer Palace (Beijing) we work with Tong Ren Tang, a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practice that treated the Imperial Palace of the Qingdynasty for 188 years from 1669, to provide private health consultations and we have also developed a range of herbal poultices that are used in our signature treatments to reflect the needs of the seasons.

At Amangiri (Utah) all of our signature journeys begin with the Native American ritual known as smudging. This is the process of burning sage or sweet grass and fanning the smoke over one’s body with sacred intention. It is the act of acknowledging a gift to come on a spiritual level, to be processed and understand on a mental level, which will eventually manifest on a physical level in the body. The intention of smudging is to clear any negative energy to allow healing to take place

In terms of design, Amanfayun is the result of the careful redevelopment of an 800 year old farming village, retaining its essence and connecting with the traditions of China. Set within a backdrop of a “green” valley of bamboo trees, one can hear the running water of streams, geese calling and the sound of the wind as it moves through the forest, lending itself as a place of serenity and wellness. Whilst taking a treatment with open windows, guests can often hear the monks chanting at the nearby temple and connect with the sounds of nature

What are the most popular Spa services/packages requested by your guests regardless of location city or resort?

Massage is always the most requested treatment. That said, by understanding our guests’ needs, we are able to develop menus that appeal to those that want shorter & longer treatments, more indulgent treatments v more “work” related treatments and those that reach into the local traditions of healthcare

From your research and feedback from guests, what are the goals they seek to achieve through a Spa experience? i.e. instant effects (skin related treatments), establish a healthy and balanced lifestyle etc

The more common goals are to relax, to “pause” and switch off for a short time, or to have a moment of indulgence or even to get some work done (ie. ”I have a sore back / cant sleep etc) Within this, there are those that want the treatment as a remedy (“I have a problem, fix me’) and those that see spas as part of a lifestyle of prevention.

We are increasingly seeing more guests taking a holistic approach to their well- being and having therapeutic treatment modalities such as Cranial Sacral along with developing greater self-awareness through mindful movement such as yoga, pilates or meditation. We are also seeing a far greater awareness of the need for organic, natural or chemical free products that are shown to deliver tangible benefits.