Archive for Category: ISM News
Re-Opening: The Challenge for Spa Management

June 10, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Re-Opening: The Challenge for Spa Management

We may not all get the infection but all of us are being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. While working from home, our spa consultants are collaborating with experts in a variety of fields on innovative ideas that will help the day spas we manage as well as the hotel spas under our management

For years, the ISPA Foundation has been asking PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct consumer surveys that will help inform the ongoing growth of the spa industry. These surveys, known as the Consumer Snapshot Initiative, not only produce lots of good data for those of us in the spa industry, they also help us get a good read on what people are thinking. Like everything else these days, this year’s edition of the Consumer Snapshot Initiative – the 10th – is all about COVID-19. The survey is giving us an idea of how our clientele and their attitudes toward returning to their favorite spa and enjoying treatments. 

The main takeaway from the report can be summed up this way:

  • Across all age groups, spa-goers will be nervous about returning to the spa – even when they are allowed to do so. It’s not just spas, though. The survey’s findings indicate that people will be anxious about their safety in public spaces, with the highest level of anxiety associated with places and situations where they don’t have a lot of control over their interactions with others. 
  • Spa-goers say they will return, but spas will need to take steps to make them feel safe. Not surprisingly, our efforts as spa managers to increase our sanitation and hygiene protocols will play a big part in assuring our clientele. “Spas will need to adjust their practices to satisfy consumer concerns and clarify for guests how the spa-going experience will be different (i.e. what measures are being taken to protect guests, what a ‘socially-distanced’ spa will be like, etc.),” the Executive Summary from this year’s Consumer Snapshot Initiative says.
  • While they have been isolating at home, our clients have been learning to fend for themselves. As the survey summary puts it, “DIY wellness has become a larger part of spa-goers’ lives.” We may have to remind folks of the benefits they get from visiting our spas. “Given the nervousness many consumers may have about entering public places following the pandemic, spas will likely need to reemphasize the value of professional treatments and build the spa experience back into guests’ lives while navigating a general climate of worry.”

 

If you have questions about re-opening or providing assurance to your clientele, please contact the spa consultants at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville.

What Does Laurie Santos Know About Spa Management?

May 12, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

What Does Laurie Santos Know About Spa Management?

Are you familiar with Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos? She teaches the most popular course in the school’s 300-year history – “Psychology and the Good Life,” which teaches students about the science of happiness. Whether you are familiar with Dr. Santos and her work or not, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with spa management.

Dr. Santos is a big believer in being kind to yourself, if you’re focused on the marketing aspects of hotel and day spa management, you might be thinking that she would make a good spokesperson for the spa industry. While that might be true, it’s not where we’re going.

Our spa consultants, who are working from home like countless other Americans, talk to a lot of people (our spa management company works with hotel and day spas all across the country). Some of the people we talk to seem to be handling the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic really well. Others, it seems, are letting their anxiety get the better of them at times. Of course, we could talk to someone who seems to have a positive attitude one day and is overwhelmed with anxiety the next. 

These Are Anxious Times

First of all, no one is going to blame you for feeling anxious. You certainly shouldn’t be beating yourself up about that. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we are all dealing with not only significant health and safety concerns but serious economic challenges as well. 

Dr. Santos might just be able to help. Her course – now called The Science of Well-Being – is being offered for free right now on Coursera. Taking it might help you make better choices and live a life that is happier and more fulfilling.

According to the course description: “In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.”

All of us at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company with headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina, are wishing you all the very best during these difficult days. If there is anything our spa consultants can do to help you weather the storm, please contact us.

Einstein Wasn’t a Spa Consultant, But…

April 9, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Einstein Wasn’t a Spa Consultant, But…

You might not hear Albert Einstein’s name come up very often in a discussion about spa management, but here at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, NC, we like to look at things a little differently. And we think Einstein still has something to teach us.

Einstein, a brilliant theoretical physicist who gave us the theory of general relativity and who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, could easily be considered one of the greatest minds of the 20th century – if not the millennium. This was a man who did not shy away from tough questions or hard work. 

Einstein’s Three Rules of Work

Einstein is, rather famously, said to have had three rules of work: “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” 

Our spa consultants think these “rules” can be very relevant to the situation we all find ourselves in these days. 

  • Rule #1: “Out of clutter, find simplicity.”

Have you noticed how very many people are attacking the clutter in their lives while staying safe at home? Yes, many people have time on their hands and are looking for productive ways to fill it, but we think there’s more to it than that. Clearing away the clutter is a wonderful way to gain a sense of control over your surroundings. And once things are clutter-free, it’s much easier to see the way forward. 

  • Rule #2: “From discord, find harmony.” 

From our perspective as day spa consulting professionals, we see this as a reflection of the value of diverse perspectives. Einstein didn’t say, “Ignore those whose ideas differ from yours.” It’s almost as if the discord is an essential element of harmony. 

  • Rule #3: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

It might be a bit of an understatement to say that we are all in the middle of difficulty these days. But we believe that Einstein’s rule holds true and that out of the incredible difficulties we face, incredible opportunities for the spa industry will emerge.

All of us at ISM Spa Management Company hope that you and yours are staying safe. We look forward to working with you when the time is right to start exploring those opportunities for the spa management industry.

Lessons Learned from Spa Management

March 18, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Lessons Learned from Spa Management

The spa consultants here at ISM Spa, a boutique spa management company based in Asheville, thought this might be a good time to take a few lessons from the day spas we manage

Wellness has become such an important aspect of spa design management and well as day-to-day spa management. And if ever there was a time for all of us to focus on our own physical and mental wellbeing, this is surely it.  

Wellness at Home

All of the spas we managed are powered by Privai, a botanical based product line that promotes a ‘spa in a bottle’ experience. Because Privai is readily available to our guests online, it makes the essence of every innovative spa service accessible at home. Here are 4 ways to recharge and replenish your skin in between spa days:

  1. Apply a facial masque {weekly} – to lock in hydration and keep your skin fresh. Privai’s Aqua Gel Masque is a game changer.
  2. Use an aloe-infused serum – hydrating serums are like a tall glass of ice water for your skin. Use directly after cleansing your face. If you haven’t tried Privai’s Calming Aloe Hydrator, add it to your to-do list.
  3. Stay moisturized – after taking your makeup off at the end of the day, apply a night creme. Privai’s Matte Moisturizer is a guest favorite.
  4. Drink 6-8 glasses of water, every day – and watch your skin thank you for it.

If you’re running low on beauty products, we encourage you to explore Privai’s luxuriously natural line. Upgrade your at-home skin care routine at: www.privai.com.

Of course, visiting one of the day spas managed by ISM Spa Management Company isn’t possible at the present moment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all continue to pursue wellness in our own homes. 

Fortunately, breathing exercises – one of the easiest ways to manage stress – can be done anywhere. 

Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

As the health experts at the University of Michigan Health system explain, “There are lots of breathing exercises you can do to help relax.” They recommend belly breathing as a great one to start with if you want to relax and relieve stress.

Belly breathing

“Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress,” U of M says:

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

 

All of us at ISM Spa Management Company wish you and yours the very best during this difficult time.

Featured Hotel Spa Management Properties

February 11, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Featured Hotel Spa Management Properties

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 Project

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 are tangible examples of how we pursue that mission. This month, we would like to turn the spotlight on a unique property in Nashville:

R+R Wellness, Grand Hyatt Nashville

ISM SPA is excited to introduce R+R Wellness located inside of the Grand Hyatt Nashville as one of our newest spas. Paying homage to the charming culture of Nashville Yards and its railroad region, R+R stands for Recharge and Replenish. Amidst the vibrant energy of Music City, the concept was designed to be a perfectly-timed invitation to slow down and breathe in the moment.

As our guest, you can embark on two distinct journeys: a time-bound recharge or a deep replenishing experience created to nurture your mind, body and spirit. Drawing inspiration from the five elements, Earth, fire, water, wood and metal, each treatment allows you to channel the world’s most precious gifts, experiencing healing from the inside out. Our spa consultants created a unique concept that incorporates the rejuvenating power of nature in a philosophy of wellness that is deeply rooted in the local atmosphere.

ISM Spa consulting and management services provided for the R+R Wellness at Grand Hyatt Nashville include:

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

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

Should Wellness Be Part of Your Approach to Spa Management?

January 12, 2020 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Should Wellness Be Part of Your Approach to Spa Management?

When it comes to successful spa management, wellness is more than a catchphrase. It can be the inspiration for innovative spa treatments and the driver of increased revenues.

To understand why wellness is such an important concept in both hotel and day spa management, however, you first need to understand what wellness is. 

What Is Wellness?

According to Lexico powered by Oxford, wellness is a noun that refers to:

  • the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal

Dictionary.com defines it as:

  • the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
  • an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

And the Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of California Davis takes it a step farther, saying:

  •  Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.

 

Why Is Wellness Important to Spa Management?

The experts at UC  Davis believe that wellness matters for a number of reasons. “Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality life,” they say. “Wellness matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions.”

That brings up an important point that has been highlighted by The Worth Health Organization, which adds to our understanding of the concept of wellness by defining it as:

  • “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Privai Wellness + Spa at the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld will give you an idea of how the spa consultants at ISM Spa Management not only define wellness but also infuse the spa experience with its empowering and therapeutic aspects.

Happy Thanksgiving from ISM Spa Management

November 16, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

Happy Thanksgiving from ISM Spa Management

At ISM Spa Management, we are grateful for each and every one of our wonderful clients. This year, our team of talented spa consultants has helped clients from the Graton Hotel & Casino in Rohnert Park, California on the west coast to Casa Monica Resort & Spa in historic St. Augustine, Florida on the east coast. 

We have also brought our unique approach to programming to spas beyond the country’s borders, including properties in Mexico and the Caribbean. At the international properties that are sharing our innovative hotel spa management philosophy with their guests, not everyone will be celebrating Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean they can’t partake in the benefits of gratitude.  

Giving Thanks

As a boutique spa management company known for designing innovative wellness experiences that are redefining the spa industry, our approach to programming expands upon the traditional definition of spa. Our talented spa design consultants and experienced spa architects are able to design a holistic spa environment that enhances the wellness experience, often times in ways that are not obvious to the naked eye.  

In our quest to develop dynamic programming that will distinguish the properties under the care of our spa management company and will provide meaningful experiences to their guests, we have developed an expertise in many aspects of human behavior and social science that go beyond what most would expect to find in spa consultants. 

In addition to developing a thorough understanding of the effect that colors, lighting, sounds and scents may have on spa guests, we have learned about the many facets of wellness and personal wellbeing. 

As a result of our efforts to provide unparalleled hotel spa management and day spa management services, we have become aware of the profound benefits associated with gratitude. Research has shown that a simple gratitude practice, as reported on the science-based positive psychology platform PositivePsychology.com, can, among many other things: 

  • Make us happier
  • Increase psychological well-being
  • Enhance our positive emotions
  • Increase our self-esteem

And so, as everyone at our boutique spa management company prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, we would like to thank all of our clients for their business and for the opportunity they provide us throughout the year to experience the benefits of gratitude.

ISM CEO and Spa Management Consultant Earns Award

September 6, 2019 | no comments | ISM News | by: James McCauley

ISM CEO and Spa Management Consultant Earns Award

There’s something about Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of ISM SPA, wellness design management, Ilana Craig Alberico, that you should know. She wants all of us to be the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves that we can possibly be. Seriously. Fortunately for all of us, she brought that philosophy with her when she and Christina Stratton started this boutique spa management company

“Serving people is at the heart of what we do,” Ilana has said on more than occasion. And she means it. 

We think her authentic desire to inspire and facilitate wellness combined with her tireless commitment to excellence had a lot to do with her being selected for the Women Entrepreneurs Best in Business Award sponsored by Webb Investment Services. 

Charles Thompson, director of rooms at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, was among the many who were happy but not surprised to learn that Ilana had been chosen as the recipient of the award, which recognizes a woman who demonstrates the transformation of her dream into reality and who exhibits the traits of an entrepreneur such as: willingness to take risk, personal drive, focus, innovation and business acumen.

“[Ilana] is an outstanding individual,” he said. “She is a motivated individual who is driven to truly excel in her industry and she is an excellent candidate and very well-deserving recipient of this award.” 

As Mr. Thompson noted, “Biltmore and ISM have been a partner for several years now and I’ve watched ISM continue to grow. Ilana is constantly on the cutting edge of understanding what the new trends are in the industry.” 

ISM Spa Management Company has provided a number of services for The Spa Biltmore, including  design, concept and consulting, training and education, pre-opening, daily operations management. 

“Innovative Spa Management provides a very consistent service for our guests,” Mr. Thompson said. “[Ilana] is always trying to be one step ahead in providing what guests are looking for when they go to a spa, what they’re hoping to experience. 

“Ilana and her creative team come together, and they understand Biltmore,” he continued. “They understand what we’re about and who we are. They take and pull inspiration from the Estate and the gardens and they meticulously pull together and create spa packages and spa treatments to provide to our guests which really which really resonates with who we are with our authenticity of being on the Estate.”

If you are interested in the award-winning services provided by ISM, which offers both day spa management services as well as hotel 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