Designing an experiential SPA journey

When people talk about wellness today, they often associate it with the concept of luxury, which is no longer just a matter of opulence, but a journey through authentic, sustainable and personalised experiences.

How to design a successful experiential SPA environment?

The challenge is to create an evocative journey, perhaps inspired by ancient Roman baths, that is highly technological but without the technology detracting from the relaxing and emotional atmosphere typical of a SPA.
We talked about this with Régis Boudon-Doris, CEO and Founder of bbspa_Group, a company specialising in designing and managing SPAs worldwide.

What do you look for in a SPA to choose from among so many others?

1- Personalisation of the service

The concept of wellness has evolved to become a highly personalised offer. It is a combination of beauty, style and a service that touches the individuality of the guest. Whether it is a professional seeking relaxation or a family on holiday, every SPA must be designed with a deep understanding of its audience. In this way, the study of the target group becomes the key to a successful project. The key words are surprise and uniqueness, aspects that must also be taken into account when designing an experience where emotion, comfort and relaxation are the protagonists.

2 – Experiential benefits for body and mind

A SPA is no longer just a place, but a gateway to an unforgettable experience.
“The key concept in designing a SPA experience is to work on the body as well as the mind and emotions. Physical and mental well-being must go hand in hand, and environments such as SPAs and thalassotherapy centres are perfect places for effective and stimulating wellness experiences” explains Régis Boudon-Doris.

3 – Multi-sensory involvement

“Focusing on physical and mental balance also means offering people olfactory, visual and auditory stimulation. Sensory stimulation combined with deep relaxation enhances the results of the SPA experience, giving the client a more lasting and positive effect. As long as it is done well! Total immersion in the local context by offering immersive experiences is also important”.

4 – Enjoying the benefits of the SPA experience

For the user, the SPA experience becomes a multi-step sensory journey. Imagine a journey that winds its way through carefully selected elements, state-of-the-art tools and technologies, all orchestrated to lead the guest towards holistic wellness. At the centre of this journey is the element of water in all its forms, which, together with a skilful interplay of heat, cold and humidity variations, creates a unique experience that nourishes body and soul.
Each stage is designed to enrich the route, making it distinctive and memorable.
Moreover, the user experience depends not only on the nature and innovation of the services, but also on the design of the spaces, the lighting, the colours and, above all, the professionals who accompany the guest. “This multidimensional approach,” says Régis Boudon-Doris, “not only enhances every aspect of the path, but also transforms the environment into a narrative of well-being”.

5- Designing the SPA experience

For entrepreneurs, creating SPA circuits is a process that requires the same attention to detail as the overall design of a SPA. It is essential to start with a thorough knowledge of the target audience, analysing the catchment area and profiling the target clientele. The secret lies in adapting the design to the diversity of the clientele: entrepreneurs need to outline different experiences, whether they are targeting a business audience looking for an oasis of peace after a hard day’s work, or holidaymakers looking for a wellness retreat in the midst of nature.

For everyone, however, the surprise factor is paramount. Each SPA environment must be designed to tell a story, evoke emotion and offer an unprecedented experience.

The real challenge is to break the mould of conventional SPAs and embark on a new design path that enhances the uniqueness of each space. It is time to move away from the idea of a standardised SPA and to embrace a new paradigm of originality and innovation.

6- An example of an experiential approach

“The sauna,” explains Régis, “is no longer what it used to be. It can no longer be a closed room with dry heat, but an open window onto a breathtaking view. Modern saunas are designed to merge with Aufguss ceremonies, transforming into places of active well-being where guests can participate in controlled breathing sessions, be lulled by the sound of Tibetan bells or immerse themselves in yoga sessions designed to realign mind and body. At the heart of this transformation is an intimate dialogue with the individual’s emotions, creating an experience that touches the soul as well as the body”.

What are the trends?

Cryotherapy is an increasingly popular practice these days. The popularity of cold-based treatments is growing not only among athletes seeking to improve performance and speed up recovery, but also among those seeking greater self-awareness and deep relaxation.

Another trend is to seek out a world-class SPA environment on one’s doorstep, as wellness becomes an integral part of daily life, not just a holiday.

Régis also stresses the importance of the choice of materials when creating a SPA. Every detail, from the fabric of the curtains to the intensity of the lighting, must be carefully chosen to ensure a tactile and sensory experience that is fully immersive.

Furthermore, attention to hygiene and the durability of materials is not just a matter of aesthetics but is crucial to ensuring that the project is sustainable and profitable in the long term. In this context, technical and operational management is critical to the success of a wellness investment.

SPA staff training and management

“Creating a memorable SPA experience goes far beyond offering treatments; the selection, training and management of a specialised team is crucial” says Régis. “To make every visit an unforgettable experience, you need staff who are not only skilled in wellness techniques, but who also know how to guide guests on a personalised journey of relaxation and rejuvenation.

It is therefore necessary to overcome the traditional vision of the SPA, where the client only goes for a massage or a treatment. Today’s guests expect to be pampered, they almost want to feel part of a family, which stimulates the desire to come back.

In order to achieve this, it is essential to create and constantly train a team that manages the experience with competence, empathy and personalised attention”.