Spa Design for Dummies – Spa Size


What’s the ideal spa size for your hotel?

How Many Treatment Rooms do you need?

It continues to amaze me how naïve many hotel managers are when it comes to how many treatment rooms they need in their spa.

Stop the madness!

The answer is probably much less than you think.

Last week I was in discussions with the General Manager of a 300 room, 4-star, city hotel. Would you like to guess how many treatment rooms he had? You won’t believe it. I sure didn’t. But then again, this is my business. I certainly should have a good understanding of potential size of the business. So maybe it’s just that I am actually really smart? I’d like to believe that, of course, but in this case I reckon with just a little bit of thought, any reasonable person could make a good guess. To find out for certain I asked my wife.

Lynn’s stayed in a few hotels over the years and she’s got a pretty good understanding of how they operate. But she’s not especially knowledgeable in the workings of the spa. So I asked her, ‘If a hotel has 300 guest rooms, how many spa treatment rooms do you think they would need?’. She said, ‘Maybe between 7 to 10 spa rooms’.

The hotel in question here had 30. Yep. That’s not a typo. Thirty. 3 – 0. THIRTY! Lynn couldn’t believe it. I was dumbfounded.

Assuming the spa operates for 10 hours per day, they have a maximum capacity of 300 hours of treatments per day. That’s enough to provide a spa treatment for every guest room, each and every day. Even the most optimistic spa person, wouldn’t anticipate that kind of utilisation.

Contrast that hotel spa with another that I was speaking with earlier in the year. It was a new hotel project with 330 guest rooms. The plan for the spa was to have only 3 single treatment rooms. At first glance, that might seem like not enough. That’s certainly what the General Manager thought. But let’s take a look at the numbers and see…

The hotel is a resort city location. So, the density (number of guests per room) will probably be about 1.5. It’s a new hotel, so let’s assume 50% occupancy in Year 1.

Total guest count, on average = 300 rooms x 50% occupancy x 1.5 guests = 225 hotel guests per day.

Assume around 5% Capture Rate (of hotel guests using the spa). This is at the high end for this particular location, based on what I know other spas are doing. But this is a well-known international brand, so let’s give them a bit extra for that.

225 hotel guests x 5% capture rate = 11.25 spa guests per day. Call it 12 guests.

Assume 1.2 hrs of treatment on average. Most will take the standard 60 minute massage, but a few will take longer treatments.

Now, 12 spa guests x 1.2 hrs treatment time each = 14.4 hrs of treatments per day.

The spa will be open from 10am to 8pm so that’s 10 hours of operation x 3 treatment rooms = 30 hours of available treatment hours per day.

Based on the demand we identified, the spa will run at 50% occupancy. That’s pretty good. But it certainly doesn’t suggest a need for any more treatment rooms at this stage.

In fact, even if the hotel hits full occupancy, based on this same (pretty ambitious) Capture Rate, our little 3 room spa will still be able to handle the load.

Over my 25 plus years in the hotel and spa business, the single most common mistake I have seen when it comes to the spa design is that they are over built. Not just in terms of fancy facilities and design elements, but in terms of sheer number of treatment rooms.

I don’t know of any other hotel facility or amenity that is built based on the assumption of full occupancy and full utilisation. So, why should the spa be any different?