How to upgrade your spa on a budget

Congratulations you are now the proud new owner or spa manager of an existing spa. And although this has been your life-long dream, and would love to put your stamp on it, but can see it is going to be a mammoth task. You have already identified that the spa has potential but looks a little tired. So what now?

Beauty may only be skin deep, but when it comes to presenting the proper image to your clients, outward appearances may silently tell the story of your business’s overall professionalism and proficiency.
Where do you start when your budget is limited, and design has never been your strong point? Luckily, there are easy and affordable ways to update a spa’s look and feel, from small accessories and colorful accents to specialty lighting and low-maintenance plants and you don’t need an expert for this.

I can’t put more emphasis on planning. If your budget is limited and you know your boss is not going to be pleased if you go over, it is very important to plan properly before you do.
The best way to assess your guest experience is to be a guest in your own spa. Spend a day with 2 of your friends as spa guests in your own establishment and experience as many areas as possible. Experience what your guests do and then address the small changes that could be done to make it even more exceptional. Ask your friends to give you their true experience, with the goal of improving.
Just a warning, the most expensive things to change in a spa is your product lines, layout where building is involved and staff. So those should be your last resort. Rather get to know your existing brands and suppliers and ask them to assist in training your staff, assisting you in promotions and discuss what they can offer you marketing wise in the next 6 months. Start spending time with your staff, so you can get to know their strengths and weaknesses and build from there.
First Impressions Count:
Your entrance is by far the easiest area to improve on and especially when you are working under budgetary constraints, your reception and retail area will give you the best return on your money. A few ideas are to improve your lighting by hanging a beautiful statement piece, and it does not have to be expensive, just look for something impressive like a chandelier. I would often also change the hardware and software of the spa, by taking away the big black computer and replace it with a sleek silver laptop or iPad and bring the system up to date with an online booking system. Shop around as there are some great cloud-based booking systems now, that can manage your stock, staff and bookings all at once.
Remembering the 5 senses when changing your reception is also important. Smell, add a aromatherapy burner and burn essential oils daily (make sure you also sell the essential oils) .Hear, play some soft spa music to put your client in the mood and have your telephone ringing a soft ring that does not disturb the peace too much. Touch, make sure your temperature of the reception is comfortable. Not too warm and not too cold either. Taste: Have some water or juice available for your client to either end off her day with or to start her day with. Sight Make sure your reception is always neat and tidy and well lit, your retail shelves are neat and dust free and your displays are done in a way to invite your guest to shop. (testers are important)

A beautiful inviting waiting area / lounge area.

Retail Revamp
Your retail area is a quick fix, that can have a huge impact on your revenue. Try and move away from just huge rows of product and rather display them by using strategically placed signage, shelf talkers and other items like vases in between. Consider using signs to arrange products by skin condition, highlight staff picks, or post five-star product reviews plucked from the web. Guests want to be informed and test items, so choose a product per month and have a tester available for them to test and have your staff present it to them to experience.
Retail shelves can also be spruced up with a lick of paint, maybe in a light fresh colour behind the products, to make the products pop, as well as some strategically placed bright lighting. Guests can’t buy what they can’t see.

Here is a beautiful example at Lume Beauty Atelier in Cape Town.

Treatment Together
Your guest spends most of her time in a treatment room, but usually looking at the ceiling. Your best way to improve on her experience is refreshing these rooms through upper-area visuals such as specialty lights or décor. Treatment rooms can have a completely different feel with a new coat of paint, a relaxing mural, a changeable wall art or a change of lighting. Every room in any spa I set up, includes at least one salt lamp, aroma diffuser with light therapy and often other types of dim lighting, which make each space feel less sterile and more cosy, personal and relaxing.
Comfort is key in this area, so make sure the temperature is comfortable, your towels are clean and fluffy, and your treatment bed is comforting enough to spend 3 hours on without hurting her body. Make sure your treatment beds are a minimum of 75cm wide and have a cushion of at least 8cm thick for better comfort. We cannot expect clients to spend time and lots of money on a treatment bed that offers no comfort or support.



Some beautiful examples we were involved in at Lume Beauty Atelier, Biutiful Aesthetic clinic and Spa at Leeu Estate.
Lounge around
Revamping the lounge area—where clients spend much of their downtime—will pay off greatly in terms of guest satisfaction. Making changes using paint, fabric, wall art or fresh herbs is easy to pull off and demands very little investment and can be changed with the season. Changing your furniture is an expensive exercise, so rather re-upholster, paint and add accent pieces like cushions and throws to this area.

Keep magazines to the latest issues, discard old ones, keep drinks area refreshed, and add a self-serve tea area and keep area dust free. Use aromatherapy diffuser to keep area smelling fresh. Small, inexpensive updates can totally change the room’s energy and feel


The colour wheels
Colour can affect the mood and atmosphere, so it is important that you use the right colours for the client experience. White can be cold and sterile making it difficult to relax in. Break it up with natural woods, green plants and warmer accents of neutrals.
Colour can be incorporated by means of new throws, pillows, towels and an accent wall painted in the hue of your spa. A great way to add interest into your spa is to turn your spa logo or your spa initials into a great design and incorporate it into your wall art. This is less expensive than what you think, and it injects your brand into the space and ties all together.

I have a formula that works well for me, when doing over a spa. I take each area and put together a to do list of 5 things to do, 5 things to stop and 5 things to change. Once this list has been made, I start getting quotes and then decide what to implement immediately and what to implement later. I make sure I don’t get side- tracked by everything new, and always stick to the plan until all is completed.

Miss Jacoline Wentzel
Spa consultant at The Spa Warehouse

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