How to cultivate authentic wellness in the spa sector

How to cultivate authentic wellness in the spa sector

For those in the wellness industry, we have seen the industry explode over the past two decades. As spas are a sector of the wellness industry, people are expecting more from their spa experience and in order for spas to deliver, therapists and business owners need to embody the fundamentals of the ‘wellness industry’ that they are working in.

Having a beautiful space and design elements, the latest technology, enticing marketing programs, passionate and knowledgeable staff on hand, and stocking sought-after products are certainly essential for business success. However, all of those efforts are futile in the long run if your business does not authentically embody the core principles of the industry that you are in – the principles of wellness.

For over 25 years I have lead wellness programs and initiatives within award-winning companies across the globe in a variety of sectors however, spas have always been an integral part of my business client base. It stems from my early career as a beauty and remedial massage therapist and as they say, you can take the girl out of the spa however, you can’t take the spa out of the girl. However, I digress.

Throughout my career, I have observed leaders, managers and employees who were usually engaged and creative become disengaged, demotivated and on the brink of burnout. I have seen thousands of people, in over 40 countries, and across various cultures who were either underwhelmed, or overwhelmed with their lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is something that many of us can relate to. As a business owner and mum of two young kids, I know that I certainly can.

If yourself and your staff are in ‘survive’ rather than ‘thrive’ mode then how do you expect your customers, who come to spas for wellness, to be authentically supported to thrive at their best?

Authenticity in today’s digital world

Todays’ spa guest expects more than the standard “take 3 breaths, drink more water, relax with a guided meditation while your facial mask is on, and here’s the 3 to 5 skin care products that I recommend for you”. 20 years ago when we started recommending more water and pausing to be aware of breath, that certainly was of great value. However, today that is simply not inspiring enough to add value to their wellbeing and to survive in the competitive spa sector today, you must understand what your customer values. Authentic wellness is valued. Knowing what wellness is and being able to share knowledge from personal experience is valued.

We are now all digital natives, we self prescribe with the help of google, we self guide with the help of apps and we are aware of the vast methods of providing recommendations on social media, but what we still want is authenticity of personal recommendation and experience. This is the success factor that the leading businesses understand very well. Authentic wellness strengthens the value proposition of your business. Customers will pay more for, and visit more regularly, businesses that provide services and/or products that they deem as providing them with the greatest ‘value’. Spas that authentically deliver wellness as part of the guest experience have proven to thrive and will continue to have sustainable success.

Wellness 101

Wellness is all encompassing. Through my career as a Naturopath (yes, that was the next step after beauty and massage therapist) and my journey of exploration of various natural medicines, from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine and more, there is a golden thread that runs through all modalities. They are the basis of our evidence-based training and development programs and are referred to as the eight principles of wellness:

It’s all Connected

Although each principle of wellness appears separate, each is interrelated with the other, they are all connected, one cannot be at it’s optimum without the other. You can’t be making the best food choices, for example, if you are lacking sleep, which is affecting your mental clarity, which also negatively affects your stress resilience and how you are breathing throughout the day and your level of mindfulness that is necessary to provide exceptional treatments to your valued spa guests. When you experience a lack in one area of wellness it immediately impacts negatively on another area, and these are the days when things can spiral downwards, impacting the individual, the team and the business.

For a day of wellness, starting your day with a clear intention, followed by a nutritious breakfast increases your odds of being active the next few hours. This helps you to eat well throughout the rest of the day. Eating foods that have the highest amounts of nutrients combined with having the least amounts of toxins in and on the body, allows the cells of your body to focus on functioning at their best and work collaboratively with each other, as they were intended, rather than focusing all their attention on cleaning AND functioning. Adding some activity, some effective breathing and a sprinkling of mindfulness, builds stress resilience, better communication in personal and workplace relationships and a much better night’s sleep. This sound night of sleep provides a great foundation to eat, move, breathe, and be mindful tomorrow as you flow through your day.

New research shows that working on multiple elements at the same time increases your odds of success, compared to initiating a new diet, exercise, resilience or mindfulness program in isolation. It is more effective if you work on all the areas simultaneously. Gentle integration of wellness into life and work is the key to success.

Harness the hearts of your people

People are the biggest asset of any organisation and unleashing the potential within them will boost the performance of your business. People want to feel valued at work. They want to feel as though their health, happiness and vitality matter. Businesses that authentically value the wellness of their team members have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining the top talent in the industry.

The intention of harnessing the eight wellness principles and strategies is to support the wellness of your team members and create a thriving business that is sustainable. When individuals are thriving collectively in a workplace, then businesses are more likely to thrive. If you’re a business owner in the spa sector of the wellness industry, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on how you are enabling your team members to embody the principles of wellness so that they can authentically impart these skills and practical knowledge with your customers. Where is the biggest gap between where you are now and where you want to be? Start small, and start to integrate wellness into your daily life and work practices.

Once you are implementing these principles of wellness into your life and business, you will be acting as a role model of wellness to your staff, colleagues and customers.

Lead Well

The spa industry has been an integral sector of the wellness industry, introducing innovative concepts from other cultures and imparting valuable knowledge onto clients.

Now is the time for the spa sector to authentically nurture and embody the essence of the wellness industry and to lead the way by educating and enabling staff to attain and sustain wellness.

All workplaces today have a legal obligation to care of the wellbeing of their workforce.  At ASWA, we help businesses meet those legal obligations however, more importantly, our 25 years experience in the global wellness industry, primarily in the beauty, travel and spa sectors, enable us to help businesses cultivate authentic wellness from within their team.

With the technology that we have available to us today, meeting your legal obligations and providing professional development options of our team members have never been more affordable and flexible. For less than a cup of coffee a week, you can provide your team with a 12-month online wellbeing program that enables them to take control of their own wellbeing and teaches then the eight principles of wellness. With this knowledge and personal experience, they will naturally and authentically add the value of wellness to your guests’ experience. And it’s tax deductible so seriously, plan it into your budget now!

Credibility and Career Pathways

If you are looking to gain further credibility for your career or business brand, be sure to check out our nationally recognised qualification in wellness – SCHOLARSHIP applications are open now and closing soon

Contact us to discuss your needs and to explore a ‘best fit’ for your business or career needs.


Image credit: Global Wellness Institute


Angela Derks, ND is the Founder and CEO of the Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy (ASWA) - the award winning accredited leader of wellness training and consulting services for organisations. Her life’s work is helping people achieve optimal health, wellbeing and business success through skills-based learning and healthy leadership strategies. She is the lead developer of the nationally recognised 10299NAT Diploma of Wellness Leadership qualification, delivering relevant skills to effectively integrate evidence-based wellness and management practices into organisations. The ASWA Wellness Solutions Team delivers an integrative approach for individuals, organisations and communities.