Archive for Author: Christina Stratton
Reflecting With Gratitude

November 24, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

As a year we will never forget begins to wrap up, we reflect with gratitude and celebrate all of the great things that happened in 2020. 

Wow, what a year! 2020 brought plenty of highs and lows -especially to our industry- yet, we can’t help but feel gratitude as we look back on the year as a whole.

While many were searching for a sense of “normal” to return, we realized that maybe normal shouldn’t have been the goal in the first place. After focusing on the experiences our staff and guests were encountering during this season of uncertainty, we dedicated ourselves to improving our business processes - starting with developing new operations within our guest and staff relations and implementing new tools to revamp our digital footprint.

Spa Operations in the Next Normal

As we worked to navigate toward the “next normal”, all of the decisions we made aligned with our mission of Operational Excellence, Optimal Experiences.  It’s evident we must pivot many standard spa practices in order to safely and efficiently reopen spas, and in some cases, a full 180-degree turn is in order. After taking intentional time to revitalize our approach, we are able to streamline our processes to ensure all guests and staff participate in an extremely safe and satisfying spa experience. 

To ensure safety and cleanliness at all ISM spas, we equipped every location with proper personal protection equipment and sanitation items then trained our teams on proper usage and procedures. We also communicated these newly developed processes across every available channel so spa guests are aware and feel comfort in knowing we follow cleanliness protocols and thoroughly sanitize for their safety. 

We also introduced a simple online platform to not only reduce unnecessary contact but to also provide a simple, streamlined experience for our spa guests and providers. Contactless checkout and check-in don’t just equate to an easier experience for guests once they arrive at the spa, but it also reduces paperwork for staff to handle. Finally, staggered scheduling means each guest receives a personalized, calming experience without any distractions, enabling the power of technology to support the power of human touch. 

We are so happy to share that these new expectations and innovations are here to stay for our ISM partners and their clients and we look forward to building upon this foundation next year.

ISM Online 

In 2020, ISM also dove headfirst into digital to connect with our partners and guests. In September, our skincare line, Privai, launched their first Instagram Live in collaboration with Lifestyle Blogger, Alex Ferraro of @SunKissedinDecember. We are so excited to continue to leverage partnerships to educate spa enthusiasts on the amazing products our partners use. We’re always looking for wellness influencers, so if you have a favorite account, send us an email with your recommendation!

New Spa Locations 

This year, ISM successfully helped our hotel partners open three new locations! Charlotte, Savannah, and Nashville are now home to luxurious spa destinations within these gorgeous new hotels.   As the world focuses on wellness, we cannot wait to watch each spa grow and provide services to hotel guests and locals alike.

The Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charlotte, NC

The Poseidon Spa at the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District in Savannah, GA 

R+R Wellness at the Grand Hyatt in Nashville, TN

As we near the close of the year, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our partners and clients. We look back on 2020 with so much gratitude for you all, and we’re full of optimism for an exciting year ahead!

We hope your soul receives a well-deserved recharge by spending time with loved ones during this season!

With Gratitude,

ISM SPA Team

*If you’d like to know more about ISM, our spa reopening solutions, and how we can enhance & elevate your hotel’s guest experience, please contact us

Giving Thanks

November 21, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

There is a light at the end of the tunnel! And here at ISM Spa Management, a boutique spa management company with headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina – and a portfolio of day spa and hotel spas under management across the country – we are determined to look on the bright side. 

This year will certainly go down in the history books as one of the roughest our world will have endured, but 2020 is almost at an end. This Thanksgiving will be unlike anything any of us have ever experienced, but if there has ever been a time when pausing to take stock of our many blessings is more appropriate, we can’t think of it

Counting Our Blessings

We sat down with our amazing team of spa management consultants recently – virtually, of course – to discuss what we were thankful for this year. And we are happy to report that there was no shortage of suggestions: 

  1. Topping the list of things that our spa consultants are grateful for is the good news surrounding the introduction of not just one vaccine but several promising Covid-19 vaccines that will be available soon. 
  2. It will be a relief to not have to eat Aunt Laura’s* - fill in the blank: sweet potato pie, green bean casserole, Jell-o salad, etc… (*the names have been changed to protect the innocent – and our spa consultants, too!).
  3. A New Year is just around the corner! AND no one is stressing about whether they have plans for New Year’s Eve. 

However you will be celebrating this year, we sincerely hope that you will have much to be thankful for. And all of us here at ISM Spa Management Company wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Next New “Normal”

November 20, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Re-Opening: The Challenge for Spa Management

Profitable Spa Operations in the Next New "Normal"

Ilana Alberico shares her best practices on how to delight guests and still produce a healthy bottom line in a recent Hotel Executive article.

It’s no secret we’re living in unusual times that will undoubtedly lead to restructuring and reinvigorating our “old” way of life to better suit this new normal. 

Luckily, in her recent feature on Hotel Executive, our co-Founder & CEO Ilana Alberico shares valuable insight and best practices on how to safely operate your spa business, and continue to drive revenue while also ensuring an excellent spa experience for your guests. 

Here are a few best practices Ilana shares: 

1.  Optimize your technology

Illana identifies technology as a key enabler in boosting spa success by catering to increasing customer expectations, streamlining efficiency to reduce unnecessary costs, and future-proofing the spa industry as a whole.

2. Develop a spa revenue strategy

Instead of relying heavily on discounting to get customers into the spa, Illana describes how spas can utilize dynamic pricing based on demand, shifting percent of sales to higher profit items.

3. Create a touchless operational process

The hotel industry has been implementing touchless features in recent years and Illana believes that the spa industry will be following suit. She explains that soon, spa-goers may be electronically ushered into their own private pod and receive personalized treatments, making the experience touchless, but also personalized and unique.

4.  Safety is a MUST, but not a differentiator

Illana points out that although luxury spas are trusted by their clients as a highly sanitized and safe space, it doesn’t hurt to continue to build trust at this time by increasing messaging and reassurances to provide peace of mind.

5.  Market to your local community 

Due to the drop in travel across the country, Illana’s last recommendation to spas is to focus on reaching local clientele. She even recommends how to block out the entire spa for events or large groups in order to return to business safely.

To learn more about how to integrate these best practices into your spas, read Ilana’s full article on HotelExecutive here.

Want to know more about the one-of-a-kind spa experience ISM Spa can create to elevate and enhance your guests’ experience? Contact us here! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Color Theory, Spa Design and Beyond

October 12, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Color theory is, of course, an important aspect of spa design and management. Understanding what makes a color soothing or calming and, therefore, appropriate for a particular spa setting requires some expertise. 

The spa consultants at ISM Spa Management have that expertise. They also have a healthy curiosity, which, when combined with an interest in color theory can lead to some interesting tidbits of information. 

Color Your World

“Color therapy is frequently employed in public spaces, though we might not consciously be aware of it,” Organic Spa Magazine reports. “For example, restaurants often incorporate reds and oranges, which stimulate hunger, while hospitals tend to use uplifting yellows or calming greens.”

The Colors of the Seasons

The folks at Color Matters are not only experts in color theory and design, they are also passionate about color. They embrace their love of all things color through sharing information – and occasionally having some fun while they do it. 

Here are a couple of fun color facts they provided that are perfect for the season (and the holidays – which are just around the corner!):

The Shade of Autumn Leaves
Plant researchers Bill Hock, Eric Zeldin and Brent McCown of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!) were studying the way leaves change color in the fall. They “discovered that brilliant red pigments shade sensitive leaf tissue in fall while trees reabsorb nutrients from their leaves,” the folks at Color Matters say. “In actuality the red pigment produced by the leaves performs much the same important function as sunscreen on human skin.”

 “Hue and Cry” Will Tell You If Your Turkey Is Stressed 
Check this out! “A turkey has several flaps of loose skin around the head and neck that turn color depending on its mood. The flaps are called the "wattle" (on the chin), the "snood" (on the head and over the beak) and the "caruncle" (on the throat). Under calm conditions, these areas are pinkish-gray or blue; if the turkey is annoyed or mating, all these areas turn bright red.”

If you have questions about the color palette or any other aspect of spa design management, please contact the spa consultants at ISM Spa Management.

Wellness Will Be Even More Important to Spa Management Moving Forward

September 10, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

boutique spa management company - Featured Property: Ama Spa

Long before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19, the spa consultants at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, North Carolina, were focused on the concept of wellness. 

Not surprisingly, there are already strong indications that wellness will continue to be key to the future growth of the spa industry. 

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says, “Health has emerged as a key focus for consumers readjusting to their ‘new normal.’ And after months of social distancing, consumers’ approach to fitness and overall wellness may be permanently altered, experts said.”

Feeling Good About Wellness

This is a time of great upheaval and change – in many industries. Some responses to the pandemic will be temporary. Others will be lasting. 

On its editorial website, CO—, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce quotes Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Institute, as saying, “At the big-picture, long-term level, the case for the wellness concept and wellness markets post-pandemic looks very bullish."

“Pre-pandemic, wellness was already emerging as the biggest consumer spending opportunity in decades,” Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, told CO—.WSL, which releases an annual study on How America Shops, had found that almost three-quarters of Americans reported that they were eating healthier, meditating, working out, or embracing other activities to help them reduce stress and living well. 

 “Even before the pandemic, many people around the U.S. were beginning to dabble in proactive and preventative health and wellness practices,” Liebmann told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s editorial team. “What this pandemic has revealed is that taking care and control of your own health — individual, family, home, etc. — is even more critical than before.”

From spas like The Spa Biltmore in Asheville, NC to Privai Wellness + Spa at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, the spa management team at ISM Spa has extensive experience developing spa therapies designed to support the mental and physical health and wellness of spa clientele. 

If you would like to speak to one of our spa consultants about the future of spa management, please contact us.

What do spa consultants do on their day off?

August 22, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

What do spa consultants do on their day off?

As much as the spa consultants at ISM Spa management company like escaping the summer heat and relaxing with a good movie, we are dedicated first and foremost to developing branded spas that offer unsurpassed service, impressive results, attention to detail, and commitment to continuous improvement. 

Of course, Hollywood has produced any number of movies over the years that have been filmed, at least in part, in a spa setting.  One could say that, if you’re in the business of spa management, watching a movie that features a scene-stealing spa could be considered research. Very entertaining research, to be sure, but research, nonetheless. 

Spas on the Silver Screen 

You may be surprised at how many times movie cameras and crews have captured the beauty and amenities of international hotel and resort spas on film for all of us to enjoy – from Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman to Liam Neeson in Unknown. Here are a few of our favorites:

Some Like it Hot 

Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon starred in this classic comedy from 1959. Curtis and Lemmon play two Chicago musicians, who had the misfortune to witness a mob massacre. In an attempt to escape from the bad guys, they join an all-girl band heading to Florida. Although San Diego isn’t exactly on the way from Chicago to Florida, the Spa at The Del in the Hotel del Coronado appears in the film. 

The Way We Were 

With stars like Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford, perhaps it’s only fitting that the spa scenes in this 1973 romance were filmed at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Spa scenes from several other movies – including Funny Girl, which also starred Streisand – were also filmed at The Plaza.

Never Say Never Again

It’s not surprising that James Bond, as played by the always debonair Sean Connery, might find himself in the vicinity of a spa. And it’s not surprising that, when he does in this 1983 movie, the spa happens to be in Monte Carlo’s Hôtel de Paris.

At ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, our innovative approach to spa programming finds its inspiration, not on the silver screen, but in the indigenous characteristics surrounding each individual property’s location.  For more information, please contact us. One of our hotel spa management experts would be happy to speak with you.

NEW Privai Rituals & The Bliss of Beauty Sleep

August 15, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

NEW Privai Rituals & The Bliss of Beauty Sleep

It’s the heart of the season of sunshine. What better time to announce that we are releasing three brand-new Privai Rituals aimed at creating personalized wellbeing! 

Christina and I began sensing a need to create a special massage therapy series of body rituals that hold space for deep restoration and disconnection from the demands of your every day. One that also used products that were made from high-quality holistic materials rich with jojoba oil, lavender, and other botanicals that promoted wellbeing. I started feeling that even with massage memberships and frequency on the rise, people were still yearning for something more special, deeper, more complete. 

Over the course of twelve months, I reconnected with my massage therapist self. I pulled out my old journals, formulas, and meticulous notes I had kept from my old massage therapy practice. One that I built alongside a vibrant career in a resort spa working on dozens of people a week. My favorite services to provide, and the ones that produced the most powerful results, were in my private practice. I only booked 90- and 120-minute massages and incorporated a rich array of modalities, tools, and techniques enhanced with natural essential oils. I would use holistic blends rich with skin loving Jojoba oil and lavender essential oil. I wondered ‘why aren’t I creating this restorative and holistic space in our spas today?’ Out of this, the Privai Rituals were born. 

Christina and I developed Privai as a wellness company. Our skin and body care line is made up of products that are specially formulated blends which promote wellbeing. Together with our team of formulators at Privai, and our village of massage trainers at ISM SPA, I knew that we could develop industry leading treatments that feature both our powerful products and our professionally creative massage therapists to create transformational experiences for our guests. 

The Privai Rituals are thoughtfully tailored to deepen self-awareness and facilitate healing on all levels through a complete and transformative wellness experience.  We used historical and originative approaches to wellness along with specially-formulated handcrafted botanically rich products that are uniquely crafted to heighten the experience of these rituals. 

I invited our Corporate Trainer, Daniel McCurry to my home in Atlanta and together with my husband Vincent Alberico, we worked in my loft (now known as the ‘spa loft’) for a week to fine tune the elements and features of each Ritual. Christina took the lead on the ingredient and specialty-sourcing to ensure that we were able to bring about what we all envisioned. Then, Daniel fine-tuned the experiences even more and went on a training tour to bring them to life. 

Our Privai Rituals include Sacred Beauty, Restorative Sleep, and Essential Balance and will be available at the following luxury spa establishments: 

Ama Spa

The Spa at Callaway Gardens

Cypress Spa

Island Spa

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Asheville

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook

Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Orlando

Poseidon Spa at Casa Monica Resort & Spa

Poseidon Spa at the Mansion at Forsyth Park

Spa Space

Below, I’ll share with you the Restorative Sleep menu description to provide a better understanding of the meticulous details we undertook in developing each special experience. 

RESTORATIVE SLEEP

Slip into a deep and peaceful sleep tonight with Privai. Sleep is essential for recharging your mind and body. This luxurious 130-minute ritual was designed to help enhance your sleep quality by establishing profound relaxation and relief from stress that builds throughout the day. Certified organic pillows and linens envelop the body, while parasympathetic massage techniques paired with divine essential oils are used to calm and soothe the nervous system. Weighted blankets offer restorative pressure and a warm comfort similar to being held. The art of reflexology completes the ritual—implementing rose quartz, the stone of love, and a heavenly Ultra Rich Body Butter foot massage that will send you into a blissful sleep in no time.

As a business owner and a mother, restful and restorative sleep is an essential ingredient to my success. By consciously dedicating the time and space to ensure a healthy night’s sleep, I can show up as the best version of myself, whether my role is “MOM” or “CEO.” It is absolutely imperative to well-being. There’s no separation between the two.

Can you even imagine the level of intelligence our body requires to function each and every moment?

In this often hectic and endless world of to-dos, many of us will compromise sleep to plow through our day. Over time, these choices can wreak havoc on our bodies. Therefore, it’s not simply an option, but a sheer necessity, to get ample sleep.

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. We are asleep for 1/3 of our life. This is the time that our bodies recover, recharge, and reenergize. Make that environment as pure as possible. Many times, people do not realize that their mattress may be the most toxic piece of furniture in their home, filled with chemicals that we lay down and dream on every single night. Finding an organic or natural mattress is not hard and doesn’t have to be expensive. This is why we partnered with Natural Sleep Mattress & Organic Bedding in Atlanta to create a custom massage table topper for us to create the feel of a luxury organic mattress in each treatment room for the Privai Rituals to create a restorative and luxurious feel to each massage table. The toppers along with the use of holistic essential jojoba and lavender essential oils magnify the total experience of the ritual. We desire each aspect of the Privai wellness experience to be highly curated for your wellbeing. 

Sleep retreats are the new frontier of wellness. They are increasing in popularity across the world. What a wonderful investment—an escape to a tranquil setting with no distractions, to focus on healing sleep deprivation and hopefully, also gain tips and techniques to bring home. It’s not only attaining knowledge about the act of sleeping— it’s also learning how to create the right sleep environment that feels perfect for your unique body type. 

Sleep keeps our heart healthy, reduces stress, makes us more active and alert, boosts memory, restores and repairs cellular functioning, helps to regulate hormones/appetite/mood and much more. There are so many levels and layers of coordination and communication that are performed within the body. All we need to do is learn to listen so that we can heal.

May you all have peaceful, profound, unaltered sleep tonight and every night. Sweet dreams!

 

Sincerely,

 

Ilana Craig Alberico

Founding Partner of Privai and ISM Spa

Spa Consultants know a thing or two about stress

July 20, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Spa Consultants know a thing or two about stress

When most people talk about how stressed out everyone is, it’s usually seen as something negative. In the world of spa management, however, the ever-increasing levels of stress in our world could be seen as promising. 

The hectic pace of today’s world is undoubtedly one of the many factors driving growth in the international spa industry. And according to recent research, it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change any time soon.  

At ISM Spa Management Company, we don’t take pleasure in the stress of others. In fact, we go out of our way to alleviate stress and promote wellness in any number of innovative ways. 

Are we really more stressed than previous generations?

Yes, we are. And Gen Z – those who are currently in the 15 to 21 year age range – is perhaps the most stressed of all. 

Every year, the American Psychological Association commissions a nationwide survey as part of its Mind/Body Health campaign to examine the state of stress across the country and understand its impact. The most recent survey revealed that more than nine in 10 Gen Z adults (91 percent) said they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom because of stress, such as feeling depressed or sad (58 percent) or lacking interest, motivation or energy (55 percent). 

According to the APA, the survey also shows that, “Only half of all Gen Zs feel like they do enough to manage their stress.”

“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer, commented when the findings were released. 

Is it just us?

The short answer is NO! Live Science recently ran a story titled, “People Across the Globe Feeling More Sad, Stressed and in Pain Than Ever.”

“A new survey of people’s daily emotions found that, worldwide, reports of negative emotions — including sadness, worry and stress — have increased over the last decade,” they report.

To understand what global and domestic trends like this could mean for the growth of the spa industry, you can rely on the expertise of the spa consultants at ISM SPA, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, North Carolina.

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

July 8, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

As one of the leading spa management companies on the international scene, ISM SPA management company offers sophisticated spa consulting, spa design management and spa management services specifically geared toward the unique needs of hotel spa management. 

ISM SPA consultants understand that successful hotel spa management goes above and beyond the requirements of day spa management. It is essential not only to operate a spa that maximizes revenues and profits but one that also: 

  • Adds to the value of its client hotel or resort property 
  • Helps to establish the property as a service-centered destination 
  • Inspires repeat visits
  • Contributes to increased occupancy 
  • Enhances the overall brand image

 

Featured Hotel Spa Management Projects

At ISM SPA, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, NC, our mission is to provide operational excellence and optimal experiences, promoted by our commitment to curated connections, guest gratification and employee engagement. 

Our featured hotel spa management projects will give you an idea of how we pursue that mission:

  • Privai Wellness + Spa

We would like to wish the Privai Wellness + Spa Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, Orlando, Fl, one of our featured properties, a very happy anniversary! It was approximately one year ago that this amazing property first opened its doors. ISM Spa design consultants were intimately involved in the development of this engaging concept and are proud to provide ongoing hotel spa management services. 

ISM Spa consulting and management services provided for the Privai Wellness + Spa at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld include: 

  • Feasibility
  • Brand Concept
  • Renovation Design
  • Spa and Hotel Integration training and IT
  • Pre-Opening Operations
  • Ongoing Management

 

For more information on hotel spa management services from ISM SPA management firm, please contact us.

The EmpowHER Conference: How To Fight Stress

July 2, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: Christina Stratton

The EmpowHER Conference: How To Fight Stress

I’m thrilled to announce that I was selected by Modern Luxury as one of three speakers for Best Motivational Success Story at the EmpowHER Conference on June 28th. This two-day conference brought together female entrepreneurs, business experts and community leaders to support and celebrate women thriving in business. I’m incredibly honored to have participated as a panelist alongside Elizabeth Morrison, owner of The Fit Atlanta, and wanted to share with you key points from our discussion on how to fight stress.

I believe that stress is a choice. Every single day, we have the choice to set up our lives for success. Ask yourself a bigger question: who am I? Why do I make these decisions? Define your ultimate path and then say no to anything that doesn’t align with your journey. Organize your tasks for the day, but do not dwell on your to-do lists, or you will live in stress. Your stress management is a personalized process. When stress enters our brains, we can make the choice to interpret this stress and stay in the present moment. Take control of your internal landscape. Compartmentalize your life in a new way to avoid this feeling again. When we are pulled in too many directions, we lose sight of what brings us joy. 

The five aspects of well-being are emotional, physical, spiritual, financial and social well-being. Instead of trying to live up to the unrealistic expectation of remaining perfectly balanced in each department, give 100% to whatever area you’re actively working within. For example, when I’m in the office, I try to give my professional duties 100% of my attention. When I’m at home with my children, I give them 100% of my love and attention, and so forth. We now know from research that we can control stress in our brains. The steps for success based off of my experience is to:

a.) Recognize stress when it forms

b.) Understand the power that our minds hold over our reality

c.) Control our external environment by creating a calm space, lighting candles and diffusing essential oils, investing in a high-quality mattress for better sleep, etc. Our environment is conducive to how we physically feel, so let’s make it relaxing as a harbinger for our success!

We underestimate the power of visualization in our lives. Create a vision board. Whenever you have a spare moment, write down in a journal your goals and intentions. This will grant your dreams an exponentially greater chance of being achieved. When you’re in a stressful moment, return to this journal and reflect on your personal pathway again. This will keep you focused and able to say no to the elements in your life that distract you or dim your inner light. 

Give yourself permission to restore when you need to restore. Set yourself up to be the most beautiful, successful version of yourself every single day. You got this! 

Happy Independence Day to you and your family! As we celebrate the freedom of our nation this week, let’s also take active steps to free our minds from the daily burdens of stress.

Sincerely,
Ilana Craig Alberico
Founding Partner, Chief Executive Officer of ISM Spa