Transformational Spa and Wellness Value Propositions

Lifestyles are evolving led by a multitude of new social, political and professional changes. This has created a substantial and prevalent focus on being happy, and living with passion, energy and a sense of personal well-being.
Mia A. Mackman
We are living in a time centered around people, purpose and progress. While the need to remain adaptable and manage one’s daily schedule endures. Lifestyles are evolving led by a multitude of new social, political and professional changes. This has created a substantial and prevalent focus on being happy, and living with passion, energy and a sense of personal well-being. The natural outcome of these changes generates a profound shift in thinking. As more people become increasingly self-aware, this impacts a number of things, including personal values and life goals.
Until recent years, the trickle of change has been steady and slow. Today, we are living in a time when people are seeking personal growth and transformation more than ever before. According to a study by Marketdata Enterprises “Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs.” Now, a decade later the self-improvement market has continued to cultivate its offerings and merge into a massive global wellness and lifestyle marketplace.
Over time, these products and services have surfaced with more depth and diversity. These tools have significantly advanced their reach and include a wider audience of people.  An unyielding selection of resources can be found to enhance one’s personal development, no matter who you are or what you’re seeking. The internet has further expanded this arena with a host of mobile apps to choose from, YouTube, and so on.

Depth and Variety

Much like the self-help market has evolved to expand its industry and audience, the hospitality market is tasked to do the same. Hotels are being called to answer a global cry for services that concentrate on an enormous spectrum of personal well-being. Since, the definition of wellness touches nearly everything in the realm of hospitality- from food and beverage lineups, quality of rooms, and meeting space to spa and fitness departments; transformational value comes into play when there is a specific niche, need or opportunity. Filling this need denotes new value propositions which launch modest wellness themes to the next level in service and scope. 

Raising the Bar

Hotels and resorts have the rare opportunity to engage people in suggestive ways throughout their stay. Programs focused on supporting personal-development and transformation can present powerful options for individuals seeking a lush experience tied to personal growth and inner-discovery. As an industry, it’s time to raise the bar when it comes to solely offering conventional amenities and services.
While skin care and massage services make up the majority of traditional treatments, there is meaningful momentum backing alternative therapies, healthy living and services tailored to mind, body and spirituality. “Complementary or alternative therapies, such as reiki, energy work and acupuncture, are available in 27% of spas,” according to the ISPA 2016 U.S. Spa Study. This study also states that “Mind, body and spirit programs are available at 17% of U.S. spas.” Many of which also include meditation, yoga and relaxation classes. Altogether these aspects are fixed to the fervor surrounding well-being. They also epitomize new opportunities for growth.

Types of Services

Source: ISPA 2016 U.S. Spa Study
Implementing services that inspire people to take a profound personal journey, amasses a wide range of advantages for the individual and the property. Be it through active meditation, astrology, grief counseling, sleep aids and analysis, or esoteric, creative and deep spiritual healing. People seeking wellness are looking for exceptional prospects to improve their lives. Having the ability to access new techniques and treatments enrich not only the quality of their stay but can improve their entire lives. There’s no question the request for advancing services is here. However, this pursuit requires commitment, grit and the agility to explore new possibilities.

Customer Demand

“Traditionally, the Baby Boomers have been the main consumers of self-improvement. They still are an important group, but the tide is shifting. Millennials are the future for this market, but there are few experts now catering to them.” A reported “94% of millennials participate in the practice of self-improvement, 84% of Baby Boomers and 81% of Gen Xers” are engaged in personal development. This illustrates the opportunity to capture a wide audience of people who are seeking to improve themselves.
The demographics of this market feature enable a creative, multi-generational approach to new program creation. This also engages guests to explore personal relevancy and value, through cross-department services. Tailoring programs to suit different age groups, genders or life circumstances, i.e. The Passionate Journey, created by Anne B. Emerson, can customize unforgettable and personalized experiences.
Life is unpredictable. There are more uncertainties, doubts and issues of unease effecting people worldwide. For many people, peace of mind and stability are hidden within daily pressures and stress. Therefore, services that provide respite from worry and stress become prized experiences. And expanding this reprieve by introducing innovative methods that encourage the management of Self, empowers people even further.

Going Above and Beyond

Presenting opportunities for guests to have meaningful uncommon services, opens up a new dialogue. While fitness and movement activities may appeal to some, fitness does not equal well-being for everyone. Athletically fit does not necessarily equal healthy and well-balanced. Wellness is holistic. The routes to health and happiness, vary for everyone. Emotional and spiritual health are frequently unchartered waters in the hospitality industry. However, these types of services often facilitate significant breakthroughs and a montage of transformations.
Depending on the type of treatment or service, suggesting new products, books, mediation tools, and so on, can offer supportive insight and encourage ongoing and future practice. Incorporating retail selections to support these types of services, not only increases the average customer spend but also provides a product selection beyond traditional spa retail. These items can include a small selection of books, journals, daily rituals or positive meditations. Items that have a tone of self-discovery or suggest an uplifting buy, such as novelties and gifts can also help boost retail performance overall. 

Know Your Limits

Enumerating the definition of hospitality-driven wellness raises three important questions. First, what is the perceived value of wellness and transformation for your specific guests? This is broadly different based on property type, location, and concept. Urban hotels have distinctly different guest profiles than resorts or destination hotels. Knowing the pillars of what wellness means for your property, plays a critical part in customizing your strategy and goals.
Second, how innovative is the property, management team and ownership when it comes to developing advanced services? If the property is based on long-standing, traditional principles it may be challenging to add new, broad-minded services. In this case, it’s best to start with one or two unique offerings. These can be introduced as a special promotion and assimilated later based on interest and engagement.
Third, what are the risks associated with creating new programs? There are always a series of risks to manage when making any program alterations. Identifying these risks with careful planning, employee training and effective protocols for guest follow-up can help mitigate most of them. One of the biggest threats to the process of enacting new services, stems from employees not fully understanding them. The staff should be well versed in all of its treatments and services, but especially ones that are new and may be unfamiliar territory for people.

Advance Wisely

Choosing to make the investment to expand programs, spa services or new hotel overlays, becomes relative to the goals of the property. There are a number of factors to consider in doing this. What is the significance of the offering? Does it align with the property’s concept and theme? Is the management and staff committed to its success? Is it ideal to partner with outside companies or to hire and train to activate new services? All of these aspects can sway the performance and impact return on investment.
Selecting the right partners, and discerning quality providers is an essential part of integrating new programs. It is also key to have skilled employee training to help lay the foundation of any successful expansion. One of the leading factors in creating hotel success is creating a “Unique Experience”. Capitalizing on the strengths of the property can have extraordinary advantages.
As guest preferences evolve with greater volume and speed, it is essential to work within a stand-up strategic plan to circumnavigate the complete direction. Furthermore, transformational programs are not limited to department exclusive services. These modes can also be integrated into meeting and event space and added to special functions. These programs can be stimulated further by creating special retreats and crafting them into different guest packages.

Final Thoughts

Transformation can be a powerful experience. Sometimes, the shift is simply coming back into stride with life, a loved one or letting go of grief, self-doubt or excessive stress and worry. The hospitality industry inadvertently has both the breadth and capacity to impart meaningful change for a lot of people making the move to go beyond general wellness ideals. These integrations can inspire people through transformational experiences, generate substantial revenue and pointedly garner unique property attention. There is a priceless, personal sentiment that goes hand-in-hand with any journey towards personal growth. And the people, places and programs that touch our lives this way can be unforgettable. retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by
Mia A. Mackman, HVS Managing Director of Spa and Wellness Consulting, leads the spa and wellness aspects of our consulting engagements, encompassing market studies, feasibility studies, strategic planning, valuation, and forecasting. Mia has predicted leading shifts in the transition of the spa and wellness market since 2004. Known for her agility, leadership, and intuitive insight, she works with global investment companies, property developers, hospitality organizations, industry groups, and global think-tanks. She is recognized for her success predicting and identifying future value propositions. to navigate, adapt, and excel in a fast-changing market. Contact Mia at (928) 284-8503 or [email protected]


  1. Very interesting and informative article Mia. Thank you. PS - I was one of those contributing to the $11 billion in 2008. :-)

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