Why not meet me in the spa!

Spas, with their de-stress appeal, provide great meeting breaks

As more and more MICE planners incorporate spas into event schedules, experts at the Fairmont’s Willow Stream offer some tips

SPAS are increasingly playing an integral part in meetings, not only as rewards in incentive programs but also to energize or distress attendees at corporate meetings. With the name spa meaning anything from a few rooms to a full-service resort facility, planners navigate a number of variables when creating a program. Operator of Willow Stream, a unique spa brand, the expert staff at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts offer some timely spa tips to help planners keep their energy while selecting and running a successful programme.

The Lay of the Land: Planners should acquaint themselves with the spa facility as well as spa logistics. Key questions include what time attendees need to be ready, what are cancellation deadlines, are there satellite check-in areas for large groups to ensure no line-ups, can the spa be flexible on opening and closing times to accommodate meeting schedule? At Willow Stream, spa treatments are staggered on the quarter hour to avoid lines and congestion in the public area, so group attendees never feel as if they’ve just got “off the bus.”

On-site Go-To: Ask if there is a group spa coordinator on site, who is familiar with running group functions. These coordinators can often refer to historical data and make recommendations based on previous programmes, providing tips on what you can get delegates to feel – energized, distressed or balanced – and provide recommendations of treatments and activities to best achieve the results you want.

Create a Set Menu: Listing a select group of treatments delegates can choose from can help ensure consistency in per person spend, such as a mixture of massages, facials, or body wraps in a similar price range. In addition, establishing billing procedures in advance ensures a smooth and problem-free departure experience from the hotel.

Get Answers – Before you go: For a smooth spa experience, ask delegates about preferences, including top treatment choices, male or female therapists or even AM or PM time slots. Provide medical forms prior to selection, so delegates can choose based upon any medical histories and can populate required forms.

But Wait, There’s More: Many resorts offer planners value-added amenities and services with minimum booking guarantees, such as comp allocations or ‘teasers’ i.e. chair massages at registration - during meeting breaks. Be sure to ask about these.

Far from the Madding Crowd: Check for peak seasons as well as times in the day, as many spas and resorts offer seasonal specials in off-peak times that are available to group clientele.

Think Outside the Spa: Spas are not only for treatments. Make spa the theme of meetings and events – offer breakfast, lunch or a healthy break with smoothies, fresh fruit juices, low-fat menu items. Add yoga breaks throughout the day, sunrise hikes to get the group energized pre-meetings or group classes or activities as a teambuilding programme. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa offers unique activities such as bike tours to local wineries and Aurastar Readings among others.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Book as far in advance as possible, even for group blocks. Not only does this allow for a more streamlined spa experience, the first to book from the group block gets a greater choice, as well.

Enjoy the Local Flavour: For a great impression with little planner effort, choose a spa that sets its own theme. Examine the spa’s décor, signature treatments and use of indigenous products to create a wow ambiance, one where attendees won’t feel like they ‘could be anywhere.’

What about VIPs: Ask how the spa can help you shine by ensuring your VIPs are looked after well. At Willow Stream, the spa provides gifts, note cards with a company logos and signature product lines for at home spa experiences. Spas can often also assign personal assistants to VIP’s to ensure complete service during their stay.