How men’s spas might be the next profitable hotel trend
How men’s spas might be the next profitable hotel trend
21 NOVEMBER 2017 2:52 PM

The men’s spa business is growing, but hoteliers who want to massage profits will need to understand what men want from spas and how their wants differ from traditional spas that cater to women.

LONDON—Entertainment and thermal offerings must be at the center of any hotel spa experience focused on men, according to sources.

Men’s spas also differentiate themselves by the type of food-and-beverage options available to clients.

“The men’s spas that do well have F&B and lots of thermal facilities, four or five options, which are more important than treatments,” said Jeremy Smith, co-founder of Natural Spa Factory and managing director of Blue Spa & Leisure, during a session titled “Relax, guys: Spas for men” at the recent Independent Hotel Show. “In Germany, it is okay to have a beer in a spa. If men are relaxed, they then think they are ready for a treatment.”

Another necessity, panelists said, is to have men’s retail spa products be very accessible, but displayed very basically.

“A guy will not ask for a product, and they do not want to be sold to. They also do not often know what they want,” said Alistair Johnson, managing director, Spa Creators U.K. “Men want it simple, quick and easy.”

Johnson said most traditional spas aren’t designed with both sexes in mind.

“In some places, the only spa facilities for men are in the changing areas,” he said. “We have to recognize men do not necessarily want to be with women, rather (they want) to have a gold experience with their mates. Have a real TV with Sky Sports, not a video of whale music.”

Jeremy Smith (right), of Natural Spa Factory and Blue Spa & Leisure, said having a beer in a men’s spa is perfectly acceptable and in fact requested by clients. Also pictured are panelists Alistair Johnson (left), of Spa Creators U.K., and Hugo Middleton, of Men’s Society. (Photo: Terence Baker)

Hoteliers are missing out if they have no distinct facilities for men, panelists said. According to Euromonitor, in early 2017 the global male grooming industry was valued at $50 billion, and in London, spa visits are split more evenly between men and women.

Men’s spas and wellness experiences in hotels have evolved beyond barber offerings, panelists said.

“We are seeing the emergence of male beauty as the word ‘grooming’ is tainted, and we’ve not yet reached peak-beard,” Johnson said, referring to the trend for hirsute chins.

But Hugo Middleton, managing director of Men’s Society, said men’s spas can be so much more. “Spas for men are a different expectation and a different way of relaxing from that in a (barbershop),” he said.

Middleton said he worked as a consultant for one men’s spa in a London hotel that shared space with a barbershop. “It did not feel quite right. Barbers can be loud; they tell jokes,” he said. “Spas are better off separated.”

Length of visit is also an important metric of spa treatments, Smith said. “My rule of thumb is that if you cannot entertain me for five hours, then it is not a spa day,” he said.

Another thing to note, panelists said, is that women often remain the instigators of male visits to spas, so marketing for men’s spas must include women.

Differences between sexes
Different men’s spa requirements exist in different destinations, panelists said, and with the number of male spa clients on the rise, some markets will soon see men as their majority clients.

“Some will spa naked; others will not,” Johnson said. “The design of spas has to change. Steam has gone. Men want entertainment and to be guided to treatments. If you do not do that, they’ll just go for massage, and you will see profits drop.”

Spa retail spend also is higher with men, he added. “Women already have a selection of products, but a man will inevitably not,” he said.

Smith agreed that it’s quite common for men to feel out of place at traditional spas.

“On a normal spa menu, you will see only two male options, just below the section for those with pregnancies,” he said. “Most men have no clue what skin type they have, so they opt for a massage, as it is easier to understand.”

Spas designed for men must be different than those for women, panelists said.

“Look at their journey through the spa, how they navigate the space,” Johnson said. “Men are more discreet. You have to make sure it works for him. For instance, bathrobes need to be bigger.”

Give men something they want, and they will become very loyal, Smith said. “We are creatures of habit, so get it right, and you will do well,” he said.

Middleton said men are getting better at experimenting with different wellness products.

“Some men know their products, and this is something we have seen only in the last three or four years,” Smith added.

It also pays to have some fun with the design concept.

“Make men’s spas casual, with branding and a little humor, too,” Middleton said.

Panelists also advised that spa rates should not be cheaper for men, as is often the case between male and female haircuts. Also, when working with architects, hoteliers have to be clear what they want or, Smith said, the architect “will just put up some walls and shelves.”

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