• Stephanie Shiu

Spa Vs Wellness: How to provide a quality wellness offering as a business leader



Often used interchangeably or under the blanket term of well-being, the offerings of a spa, as opposed to that of a wellness center or resort, differ considerably. Both are strong indications of the rise of mindful travel that goes beyond the standard beach holiday, particularly as post-Covid experiences bring holistic health into focus.


Succumbing to ‘wellness washing’ through the addition of basic services to monetize the trend can be detrimental to your brand, as well as your team —authenticity is essential. So what is the difference? How do you offer authentic, transformative wellness?


Spas vs Wellness Centres

From an industry perspective, spas are designed as a relaxing, sensory experience with an element of luxury — reflected also in pricing — where aromas, lighting and textures help create a tranquil ambience, serving up a touch of escapism. Services tend to be geared towards cosmetic and body care treatments, including soothing wraps, massage, and facials and pampering manicures and pedicures.


Wellness centers, in contrast, tend to provide mind-body services based on medicine and science, that aim to address the root of the issue. The approach often includes a component of self-care and education, and can integrate East and Western healing methods, including sports massage, yoga and Pilates, Tai Chi, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy and physical therapy. The setting is usually more clinical or functional.


Spa Resorts vs Wellness Resorts

From an operational perspective, spas can operate independently from a resort without impacting the overall experience. Outgoings to consider are equipment investment and therapist upskilling training. Spa services can be purchased a la carte style off the menu, in addition to half or full-day package offerings.


Dedicated wellness resorts require synergy between the overarching program and services to deliver authenticity and results. Wellness needs to be incorporated at every level to deliver a comprehensive offering, from the concept to the layout and facilities which include consultation spaces and specialized equipment. The programme’s therapies, nutrition-conscious meals and activities need to be aligned with a wellness focus, and guided by specialized holistic practitioners, who provide support throughout the process, and potentially coaching for long-term development. For optimum results, guests will participate in a full program, or a package of therapies to achieve long-term results.


Emilie Chanon, our Group Wellness Director highlights 12 core areas to integrate a holistic wellness philosophy to achieve authenticity and results:

  1. Concept: A concept with a transformative purpose, with the aim of enhancing well-being through lasting change.

  2. Masterplan: The facilities, layout & flow, designed to meet program needs, including private consultation spaces and movement studios to support the guests' wellness journey.

  3. Equipment: A necessary investment in specialized equipment to support program results, for example colonic hydrotherapy equipment for a detox program or health assessment machines.

  4. Program Development: Deep wellness knowledge to guide partners and develop a globally cohesive program that offers benefits, addresses pain points, and designed therapies, activities and meals to achieve the desired outcome.

  5. Wellness Practitioners: Wellness programs should be guided by experts as they are responsible for supporting guests with existing health concerns. It is essential to integrate lifestyle coaches and specialist holistic practitioners who are highly skilled in their area of expertise.

  6. Education: Educational workshops provide guests with deeper insight and understanding to address the issues affecting their lives by raising awareness and providing practical tools to support decision-making.

  7. Nutrition: Working together with the kitchen team with the support of a nutritionist to develop meal plans, educate and raise awareness on better cooking methods, healthy food swaps and pairings.

  8. Activities: Wellness activities suited to program results such as yoga, tai chi, trekking and other forms of energy movement. This could also include online guided meditations or practices, in-room or at home.

  9. Products: Holistic product selection, aromatherapy blends and other considerations integrated into the spa menu to support the program

  10. Training: Long-term commitment to training and development of the resort and sales teams to understand the purpose and benefits of the program, as part of their own wellness journey to embody wellness as a way of life. Supporting spa teams to develop the certification of therapists and yoga teachers.

  11. Sales: While one-off treatments have a short-term impact, ideally treatments are sold in multiple packages, or experienced as a retreat program, for long-term transformation and benefits.

  12. Guest Care: With wellness programs, specialized care is not available during the stay, but before to understand guests' concerns and health status, or after to continue providing guidance. Guests can be supported in integrating wellness into their lifestyles - either in person or via apps that are carefully integrated into their journey.

The deep wellness expertise of the Luminary Wellness team, together with our network of skilled, vetted wellness practitioners, facilitates the entire process and guides spas, hotels and resorts to implement and elevate the well-being experience. Upgrades can be integrated seamlessly into existing spa and resort operations, positioning you as a wellness pioneer, ready to meet post-Covid wellness demand.


Stephanie Shiu