A Holistic Approach to Spa Design
A trip to the spa is a special, coveted, and much needed retreat from the hustles and hassles of everyday life, but what makes a trip to the spa an “I never want to leave this place” experience? It isn’t just the masseuse, the hot tub or sauna alone that melt all the aches and stresses away, but the experience as a whole.
The space, the structure, the ambience and atmosphere of the establishment, as well as the friendly staff, cleanliness and services, all interlock harmoniously to give the place a true and impactful personality. Everything from the reception desk, locker rooms, and massage rooms, to the choice of wallpaper, music, and floor tiling must be pieced together so that by the time the guests come out the other end, they’d already be planning for round two.
This is where intricate and meticulous interior design comes into play. We have assembled in this article a collection of information, tips and suggestions to meet all the aesthetic and functional demands necessary to give visitors the best experience possible.
Generally, all spas must have a homely, and residential rather than institutional or corporate vibe to them. It must be clearly shown in the main lobby or entrance, as well as throughout the place so that visitors can take in the atmosphere as soon as they enter, and never lose it. Dramatic doors are essential all throughout, and especially at the main entrance. Guests want to feel the transition from the outside into the spa. Special looking doors and lighting, as well as water features, plants, accessories such as unique furniture all help the guest breathe in the environment.
Locally made materials or handmade crafts should also be considered to incorporate the culture. The signage system must be clear, so guests can know easily where everything is located. The style of the signs must of course blend in to the rest of the space, but still be clear.
Aside from that, every spa must have the following necessities: A dry treatment and a wet treatment room, men’s and women’s locker rooms, treatment showering and bath area, waiting area, and treatment lab, European Hydro-massage, and spa boutique.
Optionally, the spa may also include a fitness equipment studio, spa café and juice bar, a beauty salon with direct access from the women’s locker rooms, private relaxation and meditation area, wet areas for both men and women, separate or common, swimming pools and aquatics, movement studio, laundry room, storage area, staff lounge, and administrative offices.
Locker rooms can be divided into high moisture and low moisture. Low moisture rooms are your regular changing rooms and vanity areas. They should contain an appropriate number of lockers, both full sized and double half sized in different alcoves, accounting for enough space to comfortably move around. Fixed benches, and/or movable benches with cushions on wheels should be included as well for seating by the lockers.
The showers should have wall-mounted soap, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers, with wall hangers just outside the shower, or inside out of the way of the water, depending on the space available. Vanity areas for women should include makeup lights that flatter the skin, while men should have magnifying shaving mirrors, with wall mounted hair dryers for both. Electric outlets should be present above the vanities. The flooring locker and changing area should be carpeted, whereas everywhere else is tiled.
Wet area locker rooms are within close proximity or directly accessed by the sauna, steam room, whirlpool and cold pool if available. Note that wallpapers may tear with exposure to steam, so it would be better to use a waterproof paint or other alternatives. Make sure there is a waterproof lounging area near each wet area, with clothing hooks spread throughout. The flooring should of course be slip-proof tiling, and easily cleanable. The ventilation systems must allow for ample air changes per hour. The material used to make the ventilation ducts must be non-corrosive. Ozone water purification must be used for the Whirlpool with filters changed regularly. Additionally, provide self-service beverage stations like mini-fridges, storage cabinets and ice machines. Also, there should be storage for both clean and soiled linens.
Beauty related services such as manicures and pedicures, or hair and makeup can be included in the spa, and are sometimes best offered in a separate salon directly accessible from the women’s locker rooms. Lighting should be flattering to the skin and hair, but most lighting throughout the place should be indirect as to not annoy the eyes.
Design for facial rooms should consider extra sound proofing, as well as laundry drop-offs through chutes or carts directly outside the room. Woodwork for cabinets and the like must be washable. Sink should be available, in all cases out of the way in the corners of the rooms or against the walls. Provide stools on rollers with adjustable height and back support. Also provide tool rollers.
Some other general rules and tips, treatment rooms should be within close proximity to waiting areas and locker rooms, to minimize traffic in between treatments. Most rooms should have ample lockable storage space both for persons and staff, with additional cabinets next to the vanity areas and such. All doors should be numbered and lettered as stated previously, with “in use” signs wherever applicable. Doors should also be able to open comfortably into the room so consider space, and all doorknobs should be levers, as some staff may have oil on their hands.
Lighting should be separate in every room, with dimmers to accurately control lighting to fit the mood. Provide separate overhead lighting for treatments like waxing. The sound systems should be centralized with volume adjustment knobs in each room, but some rooms, such as the facial treatment rooms and gym, ought to have their own music players, to better adjust the mood to the visitor’s liking. As for electrical outlets, there should be wall plugs at foot and sides of the tables, as well as at counter-height to accommodate anything from phone charging to essential oil diffusers.
We encourage balancing the artificial and the natural within your spa. Bring the outdoors in with waterfalls, bamboo and stone decorations. Meditative gardens and calming fountains could make all the difference in a given area alongside relaxing treatments.
Colours and textures are everything. Use wall hangings, paintings, hand stitched pillows and rugs, locally made artefacts and accessories, and unique sheets and coverings to create a visible texture and contrast in the spa. Flat colours are out, and colour with depth and character is in. Splashes of colour enliven our spirits; luxurious textures engage out touch; aromas tantalize our sense of smell. All aspects of design contribute to the overall experience and ultimately the success of a spa.
Effective planning is a huge team effort involving the entire management team. Designers, architects, consultants, and employees must collectively develop a facility that takes everything into consideration: Traffic flow, accessories and equipment, plumbing and electronic requirements, and environmental factors such as outside traffic noises, surrounding colours and lighting.