The Art of the Spa Soiree
Want to plan an event that’ll get clients buzzing? Take a cue from four distinctive spa parties.
Spas have long been a hot place for social gatherings. As far back as the second century B.C., friends gathered in communal hot baths to relax and catch up. These days, spas are becoming an increasingly popular destination for celebrations, milestones and other festivities—and we’re not just talking wedding-related pampering. While bridal showers, bachelorette parties and wedding-day relaxation traditions have certainly served as impetus for day spa owners to open their doors to gaggles of socializing guests, our industry’s collective creative mind has now conjured a broader vision of what a spa party looks like.
From birthdays and bat mitzvahs to proms, book parties and celebrity events, DAYSPA invites you to check out some of these unique spa parties that make clients eager to RSVP.
PRINCE-THEMED PARTY AT THE LOUNGE SPA
(Culver City, CA • theloungespa.com)
The stereotypical spa bash might make guests think of pink-washed, girly gatherings featuring champagne and pedicures. But whenever Alice Koskas, owner of The Lounge, plans a party, she starts by asking herself, “What can I do to really personalize this for the host?”
First, Koskas asks the client to choose a theme. One recently went with a Hello Kitty motif for her bridal shower. Another group of music-minded clients worked with the spa to plan a unique fête for their friend’s birthday. “Prince was on tour and playing in Los Angeles,” explains Koskas. “The ladies planned the party for before they attended the concert. Our party coordinator, Michelle Meza, is a huge Prince fan, so decorating was a lot of fun for her. In fact, most of the décor came from her personal collection. We had the Purple Rain DVD playing and she bought papier-mâché white doves to tie into the song ‘When Doves Cry.’ The host actually bought all the girls purple fuzzy slippers to wear during their spa party to get into the ‘purple’ mood.”
Meza, who started at the front desk, has planned events and handled business networking for The Lounge since 2007 when, she says, “Our party business had taken off to the point where this offering had become its own entity.” (An entire tab on The Lounge’s online menu is devoted to “VIP Parties.”) Meza handles the event budget and works with vendors to secure deals on party “favors.”
Guests attending the three-hour Prince party received The Hollywood Package, which includes a 50-minute facial and a 50-minute aromatherapy massage, and were treated to trays of fruit, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and cheese and crackers. They brought their own wine and champagne.
Although the spa doesn’t charge for the space or décor—just the treatments—they reap plenty of benefits from hosting parties. “Word-of-mouth and Yelp reviews from five to 10 happy ladies will inevitably increase your revenue,” Koskas says. “And adding a set gratuity—ours is 20%—will keep your staff happy.”
However, Koskas doesn’t just sit back and wait for the word to spread. “We provide an incentive for the party host,” she explains. “If she refers any of her friends to have their own party, she gets a 50%-off gift certificate she can use any time.”
PRE-PROM PARTIES AT SORELLA DAY SPA
(Hamilton, NJ • thesorelladayspa.com)
About three years ago, a woman walked into Sorella Day Spa and saw a social gathering in full swing in the facility’s front lounge. She immediately saw potential for her daughter’s prom day. Shortly thereafter, owner Maria Bevins booked Sorella’s first prom party—for 15 teenage girls—and she’s been busy serving the high school set ever since.
These pre-prom parties are generally arranged by a regular client seeking to make her daughter’s prom experience extra special. Bevins will arrange for the girl and her friends to come into the spa for discounted, shortened treatments. Manicures, pedicures, spray tans and eyebrow shaping are most popular come prom time. Bevins also provides teen-friendly snacks, such as popcorn, candy, push-pops and festive sparkling cider.
“This is a great way to get young girls into the habit of taking care of themselves in the right way,” says Bevins. “We try to educate them during the parties, and get them hooked on healthy beauty habits at a young age.”
The parties themselves aren’t necessarily cash cows, though. The spa charges no fee for the space or food, so it only profits from treatments and tips. However, the benefits are immeasurable in terms of building a client base. “We find that if we get them at prom time, then when they’re home from college they come back in,” Bevins explains.
A simple promotional sign outside the spa reads “Spray Tanning and Prom Specials.” Because Sorella is located on a high-traffic street and surrounded by local high schools, this has proved effective. Plus, teachers from these high schools come into the spa regularly. So, “I get on their fundraising lists and donate to their school events, which brings the spa great exposure,” Bevins says. “I also give them flyers about our prom specials and parties that they post at the school.”
HEALTHY LIVING BOOK PARTY AT OASIS DAY SPA
(Dobbs Ferry, NY • oasisdayspanyc.com/westchester)
Birthdays and bridal showers are wonderful, but nothing compares to a celebrity event when it comes to getting your spa noticed! Oasis Day Spa recently threw a high-profile celebration for author, journalist and former Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden to acknowledge the release of her book, Joan Lunden’s Healthy Living, for Lunden and her 60 guests in their Dobbs Ferry, New York, location.
Partygoers were treated to express spa services including eyebrow shapings, mini massages and nail polish changes, and a local restaurant catered wine and appetizers to pass around. While this particular event incurred costs for Oasis in staff overtime (the spa didn’t pay for catering), CEO Bruce Schoenberg says the resulting buzz was worth it. “Almost every event we host has profit potential built into it—some more than others—depending on the type of event and who the client is,” he explains. “But we’re willing to negotiate that when we see there is a very effective PR angle. High-profile, buzz-worthy events will always help make our spa a place people want to be.”
This specific event served as an effective way to promote the recent opening of the spa’s rooftop garden. “We wanted to pitch the fact that our spa and rooftop were great options for hosting private parties,” Schoenberg says. “Obviously, any time we can expose new clients to the wide range of services we offer, it’s a big plus. We also like to highlight the fact that anyone attending could also host a party with us, or refer Oasis as a venue for a unique event,” he adds.
As for the nuts-and-bolts of party-planning, Oasis employs professional event planners through a PR agency, but Schoenberg also personally coordinated with Lunden’s team to ensure the spa was the right fit for the event. While Oasis uses its own website, social media channels, email blasts and advertising to help brand the spa as a great place for any party, it relies on PR professionals to reach out to celebrities’ personal assistants and publicists.
ROYALTY PARTY AT LUXE HOTELS SANCTUARY SPAS
(Los Angeles, CA • luxesunset.com/spa)
You know a spa is serious about the party business when the first link on its online menu isn’t “Treatments,” “Packages” or “Skin Care.” For the Sanctuary Spa at the Luxe Hotel’s Sunset Boulevard location, this prized spot is reserved for “Spa Parties.” And that might be why Sanctuary—which advertises everything from spa birthday parties to bat mitzvahs—is the first to pop up in Google searches for “Los Angeles spa parties.”
“That’s a big part of it, but we’ve also received very strong reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp,” says spa manager Allen Lottman. “And we get a lot of inquiries about our parties from our regular guests.” The spa’s management group decided to push party offerings big-time about a year ago, after a couple of successful events helped them realize that their hip location, as well as opportunities to use the hotel’s heated pool and work with the property’s restaurant to cater parties, rendered the four-room boutique spa a prime spot for socializing.
One of Lottman’s favorite recent events was a Royal Queen-themed party for 20 women. The group spent six hours receiving a wide range of treatments, from slimming wraps to facials to massages. They also had lunch by the hotel’s pool while partaking in “nonstop” manicures and pedicures. All guests need to qualify for a party is six or more guests. Each can enjoy a 30-minute treatment ($60 pp), a 50-minute treatment ($119 pp) or two hour-long services of their choice ($199 pp). The spa will work with individual groups to tack on additional options such as group manis/pedis.
“We’re a boutique spa, but it’s nice to have the use of the hotel’s amenities, such as the swimming pool and cabanas, where our guests can receive their party treatments,” says Lottman, who promotes these offerings heavily via social media and professional publicists.
Lottman works closely with each party’s host to help customize all the party details. For example, Royal Queen party invitations, designed and printed by Papyrus, featured a cat wearing a queen’s crown, advertised restaurant menus created specially for each guest and addressed each guest as “Queen” and her first name.
Repeat business is one of the greatest payoffs of these group events. “This party occurred quite recently, but the host and some of her guests have already begun to come back regularly,” Lottman reports.
Carrie Borzillo is a freelance journalist and author in Los Angeles, CA.
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