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When you’re looking for a day or two away from everyday life, there is little else more effective than a spa break. Whether booked in response to a stress inducing situation or event, as a gift experience for a loved one, as something to do with a friend or family member, or just as a treat for yourself, spa breaks can now be found across a wide array of package levels and price points; all building on the same basic experience designed around relaxation and calm.
A spa break essentially defines the time spent in a spa setting, whether it be a hotel with a spa included or a specialist and more exclusive spa destination. This could be represented as a single spa day, an overnight spa break, or a multi-day spa break - all of which tend to make up the very basic package levels offered to consumers across booking sites and targeted advertising, and which consumers can accessorise with unique add-ons and extra facilities and treatments as per the offering of their chosen spa venue.
When it comes to booking a spa break of any length, venues and spas often operate under a series of different booking branches – namely running their own ecommerce presence, as well as being listed on spa booking sites like SpaSeekers, and running select and seasonal deals throughout the year on voucher and discount sites. To drive presence and interest across this variety of platforms, spa providers rely on a series of marketing techniques, mainly focussed around targeted advertising which looks at the searches individuals perform and matches them with spa breaks which are located near them and which can be slotted into their busy lifestyles. One of the biggest changes in the spa break industry in recent years has been the way that packages are presented – that is, consumers are no longer tied to packages which last for an entire day or even a full weekend. Now, consumers can benefit from and select packages which last anywhere from an hour or two upwards, allowing those with busy schedules to still enjoy the release of a few hours spent in the classic and traditional luxury setting of a spa.
We often look at spas and see them as extensions of the health and leisure industry, created by high end boutique hotels and luxury experience providers in order to attract and entice consumers who expect and demand greater experiences. However, the history of the spa and the spa break is a lot more complex than that and enjoys its own status and growth as an industry built from both functionality and luxury demand.
In fact, the earliest examples of spa breaks come from the hot springs and leisure provisions which were literally built around these natural hot springs and mineral waterways in order to give local communities easy and safe access to the waters. These springs were often heralded for their healing powers in the early days, and so captive audiences would queue up to experience the feeling of putting their hand or face into the healing waters – not dissimilar to the status with which we regard spas even today, as we book and head to them to detox and relax our bodies.
As ancient baths and spas became more popular, so they became areas of social status as well as cleanliness, with separation between classes not coming into play until much later in the development of spas – namely in the 1920’s when spas became more built up and luxurious and so could suddenly only be frequented by those wealthy enough to pay.
The 1990’s were times of huge growth and evolution for the spa break industry, with luxurious and high end spas founded and opened; supported by the provision of day packages which saw consumers able to visit the spa for a set period of time under a set fee and benefit from the exclusivity of being one of only a handful of other customers booked in at that time.
For consumers seeking the best spa breaks today, there are a number of conditions which should be looked at with regards to seeking a package which best suits your preferences and budget. For the most part, spa breaks which last for more than half a day will often include some form of food as part of the deal - with the most popular examples including lunch, dinner deals, or afternoon tea. Of course, the offering will depend largely on the type of venue and its own offering - with hotels tending to create spa packages which partner the spa with the hotel’s own restaurant or onsite eatery to present a high end experience. The broader the offering in the venue itself, the more selection the consumer is likely to have when it comes to pulling together their ideal spa break package.
And this works both ways - with exclusive spas also offering the package and food provisions which beat suit them, but instead of relying on a hotel eatery or restaurant partnership they will pull together a deal which is more reflective of the experience they are looking to create. By example, the most high end spa breaks which span one night or more, especially those which refer to themselves as wellness retreats and wellness spas, will often include all meals as part of the stay in order to provide consumers with healthy meals and provisions which support their overall experience.
The top providers in the spa breaks industry tend to be separated into those venues and destinations which create a complete spa experience, and those which offer a spa treatment package as part of a wider guest offering - for example hotels and resorts where the spa is just a part of what they provide.
For those where the spa is the spotlight of the venue, the guest experience is often all-encompassing, with marketing and advertising showing guests wandering around the venue in dressing gowns and spa slippers, and packages creating experiences which can include both overnight stays and mere day passes. For the most part, the most popular and successful providers of these kinds of venues and spa breaks are those which benefit from convenient locations and rural settings, for example those situated in the countryside counties which surround major cities like London. The main attraction of these kinds of spa is to draw in consumers who are looking for the opportunity to relax and escape their everyday lives, and across the industry it appears that these are the experiences which cost the most and provide the most luxurious experiences with limited capacity providing the much-coveted exclusivity craved by high end consumers. One of the biggest names in this part of the industry includes Champneys which is renowned for its high end and exclusive spas across the UK.
Meanwhile the spa breaks which are offered across broader hotels and resorts as part of a bigger repertoire are often more in line with consumers looking for spontaneous treatments and cost effective relaxation methods. There are of course advantages to these spa breaks when compared with those offered by more exclusive venues - namely the provision of extra activities and offerings which give consumers more for their money. Some examples of these kinds of spa breaks include:
This sector of the industry also includes standalone and boutique hotels, and essentially any other hotel which offers access to the spa as part of its check in deal.
It is worth noting that those spas which sit inside a hotel or resort are often operated by third party and external companies which provide all the treatment oils and products, supply the training for staff members, and generally oversee the quality control and guest experience within the spa. There are areas where this works seamlessly, for example during treatments, and there are also areas where it is a little more difficult to control, for example across the communal spaces of the spa. The latter areas, for example the swimming pool and sauna rooms all depend and rely on the maintenance and control of the venue, with spa brands putting much of their own reputation in the hands of their host venue in terms of surrounding environment.
For those looking to book a spa break at the best price, you may indeed find that you are more familiar with spa booking and spa deal comparison sites than you are with the names and brands of the spa operators themselves. Some examples include Last Minute, SpaBreaks.com, Treatwell, and Secret Escapes – all of which boast a complete breakdown of the different packages and deals which consumers can benefit from across different spa venues, across a variety of locations and in line with a selection of different budgets and package requirements.
One of the biggest trends is the rise in targeted spa breaks which are exclusively designed and marketed for very specific audiences - for example mother-to-be spa days, and bridal party spa days.
These targeted spa breaks are designed to present consumers with the ideal experience in line with certain situations they might find themselves in - perfect for treating yourself or selecting as a gift for someone else, with many spas offering complimentary gift packaging as part of the buyer process of these types of spa breaks. For the most part, these specialist spa breaks are as much about what is offered as they are about the price and use of the spa - after all the facilities are always the same, and so it follows that providers use the treatments included and extra add-one to designed something which is suitable for the different target groups. A good example of this is the spa break for pregnant women, which invites women to partake in specific treatments and massages which are deemed safe for the both the health of the baby and the wellbeing of the mother. This tends to be offered as a gift package which can be sent to the mother-to-be, in many cases with a second place included as part of the package in order to allow the recipient to bring along a friend.
This is where the pinnacle part of the deal comes in – particularly when it comes to spa break packages which offer access and treatments to more than one consumer. For consumers, the provision of two spaces under one spa break booking essentially means that they are able to benefit from more deals but still receive a high level experience for two people. If you look at most of the top spa break booking sites, they offer a package for one individual at a set price, and the option to add a second guest for a smaller fee – creating a deal which many are likely to buy into due to its simple existence as somewhat of a multi-buy deal.
Another trend in the spa break industry is the rise in innovative spas which utilise unique venues and locations and offer consumers with an experience which is designed to stand out and create long lasting memories. From spas located deep inside caves and underground caverns, to spa experiences set up in treehouses at the top of trees in the rainforests and woodlands around the world, some of the best spa breaks - and those which are the most popular with modern consumers - are those which are regarded by the youth of today as instagrammable. That is, they present the consumer with plenty of opportunities to take great photos worthy of social media sharing. For the most part, these experiences and spa venues are few and get between, particularly given the fact that they are likely to cost more and so garner a less accessible demographic. However, for those consumers hunting for an experience worthy of the innovative accolade for a unique spa break, there are sites and comparison platforms available to seek and find the best deals.
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