Spa-ntaneous Combustion

Waikiki is a whirlpool of resort spa activity.

July, 2000

For a while this spring it seemed as though a Waikiki resort property was announcing plans to add a spa every week. With much fanfare, the Na Hoola Spa opened in April at the newly christened Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa. The Pacific Beach Hotel opened one. The general manager of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel mentioned plans for a spa to service the cluster of Sheraton Hotels there. In May, Mandara Spas announced that not only would the company be running a spa in the newly renovated Hilton Hawaiian Village, but they would move their business headquarters from Indonesia to Hawaii.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa General Manager Paul Tang says, “We realize that in order to survive in the long run, we had to reposition ourself and create a separate identity.” The former Hyatt Regency Waikiki Hotel had just completed a major renovation in excess of $42 million.

“Developing of the spa is the final step of this master plan,” says Tang. “The pure business reason for installing the spas is to be able to move ourselves into the ranking under the Hyatt’s brand umbrella of ‘Resort and Spa.’”

Hawaii’s largest locally owned hotel chain, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, will be adding day spa services to its Waikiki flagship Outrigger Reef Hotel in July of 2000.

“To be competitive in a resort environment, a spa is an amenity and service that the guests are looking for. It’s all part of the vacation experience,” says Barbara Campbell, vice president of retail development and leasing for Outrigger Hotels.

Resort properties must be competitive, but spas are also good business. The International Spa Association (ISPA) with 1,200 member spas in 38 countries reports that nearly one-third of all day spas, hotel/resort spas and destination spas are doing annual sales of $5 to $10 million. ISPA reports that the number of spa visitors increased 16 percent from 1998 to 1999 to an average 33,000 annual visits per spa.

“Spas are definitely a needed service that can be done profitably,” says Thad Calciolari, director of Hualalai Sports Club and Spa on the Big Island. Calciolari should know, his spa was recently the top pick by Conde Nast Traveler readers for resort spas in the nation (see sidebar). He says the Hualalai Sports Club and Spa does upwards of $2.5 million in sales a year, impressive, considering it services a relatively small hotel of just 243 rooms.

According to the ISPA, 73 percent of its members plan to increase their facility size and add treatment rooms to accommodate growing numbers of spa goers. Many spas in Hawaii are adding “health and wellness” services to their traditional spa menu.

The bottom line in Waikiki will be to lure health and wellness-happy visitors to book a room. “The market from now to the future is: The customer is going to have a choice,” says Tang of the Hyatt Waikiki. “You want them to choose your hotel for the right reason, not just because you have a room available. If you have a resort and spa in a renovated hotel, the customer will say, ‘Okay, I’d rather stay here.’”

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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch