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.


  1. I have grown up with this industry from the early rumbles in the early 90’s. I used several industry articles as my “Spa ownership for dummies” since there was no guidance on such an up and coming industry. My gut knew we were onto something but had little reference materials while I was building. The vision was clear; create a beautiful comfortable luxurious and relaxing environment, offering over the top customer service with solid treatments and they will come back. It was a simple method given there was little information on trends, philosophies, etc. Every week I would look through my mail for those articles that gave me the insight I couldn’t find anywhere. Little did I know my mentor would pop up in my working world a decade later. Raoul Andrews Sudre was a name I knew way back in the day and I scoured the Spa Management and LNE magazines for insight on ownership. Many articles were fluff and not realistic to a new owner. The articles I gravitated to were the in your face – hold nothing back style of Raoul Andrews Sudre. I was even fortunate enough to hear him speak and wow did his words resonate with my business choices. I am happy to say that through the rise and fall of the economy and the explosion of day spas on every corner this has not damaged the solid foundation and the insight gained from his perspectives. The business was sold, for a profit and under (my) consultancy for several years that space is still serving the community with a retreat of serenity in the chaos of our world. There is not a question of doubt that much success came because that space was created from the heart with guidance from an industry veteran, Raoul Andrews Sudre.

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