Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hotel Spa Management, Spa Management 2001

Our series has highlighted numerous trends Raoul spotted long before the masses caught up. In this article “Hotel Spa Management” published 2001, Raoul Andrews Sudre, Senior Advisor to Aspen Spa Management reinforces messages which he was sharing emphatically then and is still to this day with each new project meeting.

Fitness and spa do not go together.

The separation of the two offers revenue improvement and guest satisfaction aside from other benefits. This is proven in an additional article printed in November of 2002 by Spa Management, written and conducted by Raoul, titled “Resort Spas”. In the article the results of a survey which completed by spa clients from 4 and 5 star resorts in 5 states reflect the same; 96% of the replies requested the fitness activity to be completely physically separated. With many renovations forecasted by the Hotel industry business reports, it is hopeful information such as this is taken into consideration before many errors in judgement continue.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Education Inadequacies Affecting the Spa Inustry, 2002

Our Senior Advisor, Raoul Andrews Sudre hit the proverbial nail on the head yet again with this week’s article which highlights a continued challenge in the industry ten years later, education. In October, 2002 he exposed the weaknesses in the massage schools by going directly to the source, massage school owners. The statistics quoted in this article discuss the explosion of the number of spas growing from less than 2K to more than 11K from 1997 to 2002. Given this leap ten years ago and the continuing proliferation of “chain” spas it is no wonder there is still a lack of unity in education within a national context, too much growth too fast! His insight ten years ago continues to be relevant and while this article offers no clear solution what is clear is little to nothing has changed. Our education in the states is still minimal at best with no change in sight. Perhaps this will spark the desire to open this dialogue once again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Meet Raoul Andrews-Sudre, 2002"

These two interview/articles sum up Raoul’s straightforward, knowledgeable warmth which he conveys when involved in a project or training a student on the art of international massage. The two interviews highlight his longevity, passion for the industry and what drives him and many of us… customer satisfaction. He brings voice in 2002 to what has been echoed in previous blog posts, education, conceptualization and quality of service.

Getting to know our Senior Advisor, Raoul Andrews Sudre’ on an up close professional level has been such an asset to a “veteran” (this is a nice way to say I have been in the industry longer than I care to admit) and while these articles lend a small insight into why he continues to create successful and innovatively unique projects it is just a hint on his wealth of knowledge not just around the hotel and spa industry but world knowledge that brings a depth of insight into foreign business practices, cultural differences and regional customs.

-Jodi Weiner, ASM's Project Manager

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spa Cuisine, 2006

Raoul Andrews Sudre’ shares his expertise and insight on “Spa Cuisine”, published in Spa Management 2006. Spa cuisine does not have to be bland, tasteless rabbit food but can be quite sophisticated and delicious. Understanding that the needs and desires of spa goers have evolved was the message he was conveying over six years ago. The majority of spas today are no longer an offshoot of fat farms and have refined their service menus to include a variety of international influence. He was simply calling the luxury spas to do the same with their restaurant menu. 

Please feel free to leave your thoughts about this article and the rest of the series we have published so far.


Monday, April 16, 2012


Senior Advisor to Aspen Spa Management, Raoul Andrews Sudre, spoke on this methodical approach towards integrating more men into the spa in 1997 in Las Vegas. He was then asked to write this article which has been published numerous times throughout many industry publications. His detailed recommendations are clear concise and to the point, much like he is. New owners who grasp onto this information will have less of a challenge now given the barriers to men’s grooming have come way down since 2001. We chose this aged article because it shows not only once again our Senior Advisor was carving the path for others to follow, but more so the statistics of men in spas in Europe is now higher than initially reported and is close to half if not more. The guidelines provided in the article will prove to benefit new owners just forging ahead in this industry and will hopefully remind the women centric spas there is always room to grow during their next renovation.

MEN - AN EXPLODING MARKET FOR SPAS - According to surveys by Price-Waterhouse and Yeasavich & Pepperdine, 33% of spa clients were men (1999-2000 survey). Some American spas are now reporting 45% male attendance and as high as 55% in Europe. If you want to tap into that ever increasing market, there are a number of things you can do to capture and retain that clientele.
1. Weigh the pros and cons of doing so.
a. Will the potential increase in client base justify the expenses and efforts that will have to be produced to attain that objective?
b. How many female clients will you lose when you allow men to come to your salon or day spa - because you will? On the other hand, you will attract some professional women that may not be patronizing your business because it is "too feminine" oriented.
c. Will your present staff be able to handle this new market? Will they be willing to train to acquire the new skills necessary to serve a male clientele?
d. Is your spa big enough to handle a bi-gender clientele, or will you have to allocate specific hours for men and women?
e. Are you ready to invest in some decoration modifications necessary to make sure male clients return after their first visit?
f. Will this move be well perceived by your local client base?

2. When you feel that there are more positives than negatives and you decide to go for it, what should you do? If it is a new project, following are some guidelines that will lead you in the right direction.
a. SITE: Location, location, location is the secret of success in business. There are few if any "men only" spas in the United States today, but there will be many in the future. You may not want to be a pioneer, so the next best thing would be to create a "Professional People Spa," catering to professional men and women. By identifying your target clientele, you are both sending a message and setting the mood and style of your future operation. In any case, the location of your spa will need to be close to business activities, business parks, and professional buildings, rather than in a residential area. The spa will need to be accessible by as many people as possible with a five or ten minute walk and/or the availability of ample parking.

b. In the creation of the spa, MENU comes next after site selection has been made and both are done with the same objective in mind: to serve a specific client's profile. Creating the right menu will enable you to design the layout of your spa efficiently. To do that and everything else that will be needed, you need a good consultant. Start Looking. There are many consultants……..very few good ones.

c. Design and Decoration will come next. Since you are looking at creating what is relatively new in the industry, what you will need to do is more what you should not do that has been done before! Forget the Grecian Doric columns, the marble statues of nymphets and goddesses. Set aside the pinks and fuscias, the frills and ribbons. Go for solid woods, warmer male colors, coarser fabrics, develop Asian themes or a "British University Club" atmosphere. In fact, one of the best ways to market a men's spa would be to promote it as a V.I.P. Club. Men like that concept as it makes them appear less vain.

d. Equipment for the spa should also reflect the ambiance and philosophy of the place. Massage beds should be the larger kinds. Colors should be shades of brown, beige or white. The entrance and front office should be neat and business like - no frills, no clutter of products, and no posters. Workrooms should avoid very feminine colors, curtains and valences. They should be more neutral with artwork or decorative elements that are non-gender associated. If space permits, the creation of a traditional health club type of area with steam and/or sauna, Jacuzzi, and relaxation couches for men, and a serine nature oriented relaxation/meditation room for women. These features would be nice additions.

e. The most important element in the creation of a male oriented or male friendly spa is to put together a Team of Technicians that are male friendly and male compatible. This phase of the preparation might be the most difficult, but it is the most important because it is your staff that will carry the ball and make the touch down! They will make or break you.

f. Marketing: After you have created the ideal spa and are ready to go, you have to make sure that now that you have built it, they will come!! To create a club means going out and soliciting membership. I so doing, the advertisement for the club will in effect also advertise the future opening of the spa. Direct mailing, radio, and cable television are usually better than print for this sort of thing. The focus of the advertising should stress the difference between that spa and existing ones. Originality and a not too serious approach will be best. A good advertising agency will have a ball with a project like this. As always in advertising, it is important to subliminally address the unmentionables. 
The message needs to emphasize:
· Just because you take care of your appearance does not make you a sissy!
· Appearance is just as important for a man as for a woman. Macho men need to look good.
· Men/professional people need more relaxation because they are more stressed.
· Men deserve to be pampered.
· With a better and more youthful appearance come the bonuses of less stress and more balance.
· Less stress and more balance create better performance in personal and professional life.

Many men today feel that the feminist movement has castrated them. They will be very sensitive to the attitude and demeanor of female staff. Depending upon the size of the spa, having a male presence on the staff, perhaps at the front desk, might help generate that confidence factor that a man will need in order to patronize a day spa.

The vocabulary of the spa should be made more male friendly. Do not offer a "Men's Facial." Propose a "Detox and Rejuvenation Treatment of the Face." Do not offer a "Wrinkle Elimination Treatment," but rather a "Stress Relief of the Facial Muscles!" Do not try to sell men wraps or exfoliation treatments. Include them in packages, along with massages, which make up 92% of the treatments requested by men worldwide. Massages will be your number one seller to men. Make sure you market those treatments well - they will be your bread and butter. Understand the underlying problems linked to massage with men. Do not put your head in the sand - address the issues unemotionally and with honesty and sincerity. What is it that is so problematic? In fact, there are no more problems dealing with men that there are with women. Difficulties are technical. They essentially have to do with nudity and sexual stimulation.

Ideally, a massage is best received in the nude or with minimal draping. Clients will feel more comfortable if they can express a preference, usually as part of the pre-treatment questionnaire. The spa needs to be neutral on this subject and certainly not judgmental. Once that is clear, the problem is eliminated.

Indirectly, most massages are sensual and stimulating. Touch, the viscosity of the lubricant, the ambient temperature of the massage room, the aromas of the essential oil, music, etc. contribute to physiological, sexual stimulation in both men and women. Of course, it only shows on men! It is important to relay the message that this is a natural reaction that will take place when a massage is well executed and that in no way does it imply that the client is a sexual deviant because of his or her reaction. So much has been made of prostitutes that hide behind massage to in fact offer sexual services, that for fear of being put into that category, therapists have terrorized their clients and made them feel guilty over a benign situation. Women can pretend not be stimulated, men cannot. So, it becomes more a male problem than a female one. This needs to be aired in the open. Whether in the menu or in a pre-treatment consultation, it should be addressed and in this way, any misunderstandings will be eliminated without the loss of face of those involved.
Staff must be trained to handle these situations professionally and not as Kindergarten school teachers. Remember that if you embarrass a client by making a judgmental remark, or a sarcastic comment, you will have lost that client forever.
Men love to have manicures, pedicures, facials, as well as hydrotherapy treatments, but it is entirely in the delivery of these treatments that resistance or opposition may occur. If you already have a spa that does not cater to men and you with to do so, the approach will be different. Before seeking a male clientele, you need to evaluate the feasibility of doing so within the context of the existing physical structure of your spa. Is the space large enough to allow bi-gender service simultaneously? If not, what can be done to accommodate male clients without subjecting them to female confrontation? Start with the entrance to the spa. Many day spas are an offshoot of a hair or nail salon and as one enters the premises, there often are hair or nail stations in the perimeter of the front desk. Women love see who is coming in and overhear what they want. Most men would be petrified to enter such a spa unless hours of operation for men and women were different. If this is your situation, you will have to find a way to isolate entry and the front desk from the rest of the salon, or find another entrance for male patrons.
Your menu was designed to serve a female clientele, so you will need to create a new menu for men. They will appreciate the attention and will not have to sift through 80% of your menu to find what they are interested in. Receptionists who handle a bi-gender clientele need to be trained to address male clients in a different way than they do female clients. Until it gets to the point that men's participation in spas is as vernacular as going to the supermarket, attention will have to be given to the psychological ramifications of the experience. One of the great weaknesses of spas in general is to have a "weak link" at the front desk. A receptionist is the most important employee in your operation. Most owner/operators assign this job to a retired grandmother or a just out of high school teenager because they can get away with paying them minimum wage. It is the most incoherent decision that is made too often in spas. With male clients, the first contact is vital. It must be friendly and attentive. The receptionist needs to be more than just someone taking reservations for appointments. He or she needs to be a counselor. First time clients should always be received in a consultation room, away from earshot of others. A male client will probably have a number of "stupid" questions to ask and will feel embarrassed to ask them in front of an audience. On the other hand, once a male client has been well handled from the start, he will remain loyal to the spa. If he is well treated, he will not look elsewhere.

To attract the male segment of the population in an existing spa also has its advantages. Reach the men through their women. Create invitation packages involving your female patrons. For example: Bring your spouse or male friend with you next time. With a spa package for you, your male friend will get 50% off a similar package. You can also give gift certificates to your best female patrons valid for use by "men only." A well established women's spa should first try to serve its clients' male friends or spouses. Let them be your sales force. Special occasions like Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day are ideal opportunities to bring men into a spa. Remember that with men, the hardest thing is to get them in the first time. After that, if the experience was pleasant, they will more likely come back. Although, make sure not to miss the mark that first time and use that initial encounter to make it easy for them to come again.
Attracting men to spas is not difficult, but the few adjustments necessary to insure that they will come and come back are imperative. If you make that move, do it all the way or not at all.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Service, Service, Service, 2004

Service, Service, Service reads as though it was written last week after a subpar visit to a high-end hotel in South Beach! It just goes to prove Raoul Andrews Sudre, Senior Advisor for Aspen Spa Management as usual was on top of the needs of the spa industry before it was one. This article ran in Spa Management, 2004 talking about the need for stepping up the service or falling down. The article is quick to point out how many spas will fall as a result of the gum chewing receptionists or the condescending attitude of the under educated practitioners. This short article is a wonderful addition to the series and will absolutely remind us why many practitioners are called to this business, to help others and make a difference through the caring service we can offer.  


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spas for Children, 2002

In May of 2002 this innovative vision was shared with the industry via Spa Management Magazine. At this time the spa industry was exploding and while many were playing catch up to the innovators who lead the way, Aspen Spa Management’s, Senior Advisor Raoul Andrews-Sudre was showing them how.

In this article “Spas for Children”, Raoul speaks of creating the next generation of habitual spa goers as well as creating family connections with insight of how to do it successfully. Ten years later the trend is catching on not only in “kids’ only spas” but large resorts as well. With technology moving forward at the speed of light, disconnection is quickly becoming the newest by-product families are suffering. This visionary insight is a valuable read and re-read.


Monday, March 26, 2012

New Worldwide Spa Trends

In the summer of 2002 this article, “New Spa Trends” ran in the Pulse Magazine, an ISPA publication. Raoul Andrews Sudre wrote this article which echoed similar nuances from an earlier article (Sense of balance, Skin Inc., 1999) he penned. He saw the spa shifting away from a medical environment towards a more holistic approach utilizing an East meets West philosophy. This article was one of the first “visionary” moments from Raoul as this series shows. His foresight into emerging trends continues to be echoed through countless publications across the industry.


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Sense of Balance, 1999

In July of 1999, Skin Inc. published this comprehensive and visionary article written by Raoul Andrews Sudre, Aspen Spa Management’s Senior Advisor. This article spoke of spa themes utilizing the six senses, Feng Shui philosophies and creating ambiance at a time when many salons were adding a room in the back for massage or facials and calling their salon a “spa”. This article gives great insight into achieving a higher level of sophistication in design while incorporating not just the physical attributes of the spa experience but all the sensory ones as well. What is impressive about this article written in ‘99 is it speaks of a holistic approach of personalization and customizing the spa experience; a very necessary trend that the industry appears to have overlooked as a whole. With “chain” experiences moving into the spa environment creating a cookie cutter approach, this article may be more relevant now more than ever.

Friday, March 16, 2012

While undergoing our annual
“Spring Cleaning” and making room for new projects we stumbled on a
treasure chest of archived articles written by Raoul
Andrews Sudre and published through his
lengthy career. We noticed countless articles that have shaped many award
winning spas, forecasted trends we have watched occur and visions yet to
manifest. What is awe inspiring is the articles are still highly relevant to
new comers and more so to those who discounted these trends. There are articles
on design, holistic approaches (before anyone really knew what the word meant),
Wellness not Spa, Spa cuisine, Spas for
Children and many more edgy subjects that executives still shy away from but
definitely STILL need to hear. These articles provide countless tips that have
been implemented and in most cases proven to be financially beneficial in the
long term.

We are doing our best to
pick only ten articles (which is difficult
given the many articles published). We have selected articles that display the visionary
innovations, Raoul Andrews Sudre has brought
to our industry for over 50 years and is still bringing. His articles are in
your face, poignant and they do not sugar coat
what we need to hear as industry professionals. He speaks of service standards,
common mistakes that bridge into the areas of the hotelier as well as small
business owners.