A New Spa Identity


The expansion of mental health and wellness in the Spa



The expansion of mental health and wellness in the Spa 

We are all aware the wellness trend is not only here to stay but fast becoming the spa identity. It is no longer about feeling good to look good. It is now about helping rehabilitate from effects of stress and anxiety.   In our approaching post-Covid world, our culture is suffering. Therapists have waiting lists,  Psychologists are turning away patients, drug use is at epidemic levels. People need help.   Everyone’s mental health is being challenged in ways we could never imagine.  

What does this have to do with the spa? This is an inflection point. This turning point signals a change in the way we operate a spa and the services we offer. 

In upcoming articles, we will explore, in-depth, priorities of change listed below. 

The Culture of the Spa 

The first turning point is spa culture. If guests are coming to find healing and mental health comfort, there must be higher vibrational energy; one that is sacred and inspirational.  I have worked in the spa business for over 40 years, and the one constant has been the drama culture.  This is the Achilles heel in the reputation, and identity of the spa.  When staff members spew grievances to other staff members, or worse, to guests, negative energy can be felt as soon as one walks into the spa.  The culture of wellness in a spa is the first place to start with transitioning from a traditional spa into a wellness destination for your guests.  

This begins with staff. Staff is the delivery mechanism of your brand. Are your staff members a reflection of wellness? Emotional intelligence is a must for delivering wellness. Having studied emotional intelligence, heart coherence, meditation, and emotional trigger therapy, I have found emotional intelligence tests given to spa staff, have scored low.   

“If you are expanding your brand to be about mental health care and wellness of mind and body, every person who works for your brand needs to be walking the talk.”

Why is this?  So many practitioners are attracted to the industry due to lower self-esteem. They need themselves what they give to their guests. Those attracted to the beauty side, want to be beautiful, and place all value on how they look. Those attracted to touch services, such as massage therapists and estheticians like the comfort of touch, and therefore, they give guests what they want for themselves. However, they are not meeting their own needs.  This creates a gap and culminates in lower emotional intelligence responses as they allow their unmet emotional needs to control communications and behaviors. 

People With High EQ 

  • Make better decisions and solve problems 
  • Keep cool under pressure 
  • Resolve conflicts 
  • Listen, reflect, and respond to constructive criticism 

 People With Low EQ 

  • Play the role of the victim or avoid taking responsibility for errors 
  • Have passive or aggressive communication styles 
  • Refuse to work as a team   
  • Are overly critical of others or dismiss others’ opinions 

Which group do you see currently in your staff? Which group will upgrade the energy of your spa culture? 

 If you are expanding your brand to be about mental health care and wellness of mind and body, every person who works for your brand needs to be walking the talk. This means each person, including all leaders, living wellness daily.  This means new training that helps each staff member upgrade their emotional wellness in how they deliver your brand, whether it be on the phone, at the front desk, or in the delivery of services.  This is not an overnight process but starting with retreats for staff to help them navigate this new mission is crucial to helping them deliver healing services. 

The current trend in the Conscious Business movement is in creating a work environment that helps staff be more mindful and become better for having worked in the company.  The spa, not only has an amazing opportunity to become an example of this, but I would argue, is dependent on its evolution to do so.   

Some resorts are offering mental-health help not just to their guests, but to their own employees. …Singapore-based Banyan Tree, which operates dozens of hotels and spas worldwide, this Fall is offering the product to its employees. “We said, ‘How are we going to deliver well-being for our guests if our associates are not well?’” says Woon Hoe Lee, executive director of well-being. 


To meet the demand of this emerging culture, it may not be about changing a service menu.  It could be as simple as changing the delivery of the service via well-functioning staff through the aforementioned staff training.    

However, if you feel it is time for a service menu change, there has been an expanded emphasis on a mental health/relaxation hybrid.  Some spas are working with licensed therapists, and/or psychologists to offer a full experience of mental health empowerment within the culture of relaxation and rejuvenation. This is likely to expand as we move through the decade.   

Whatever service you add, understand what people really want. It is not just to feel good while at your spa.  They want a more lasting benefit; to take home as they go back into their world.  This can incorporate products for relaxation but needs to include instructions on how to maintain the benefits of their service(s) at home, such as daily self-care methods. This could include having a dedicated spa concierge upon completion of the guest service.  In many cases, this can be the Spa Manager or Director, or Associate Manager.   

“It is in its spas that clients will expect body, mind, and spirit enhancement services. One can go as far as to imagine that clients will go to the spa for wellness just as they go to the restaurants for food. Wellness will be as indispensable as F&B in the ratings of hotels,” says Louis de Vilmorin 

Is your spa ready? Stay tuned for an upcoming article that explores more in-depth the role of the spa in our changing culture.