Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

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Thankfully many spas are now open and operational. We at the UK Spa Association, fought long and hard for this outcome so we wondered how members of our industry felt about their return to the workplace. Here we speak with grateful thanks to Amanda Hardy, Spa Manager at Seaham Hall, Victoria Rickett, Spa Manager at Rockliffe Hall and Teresa O’Farrell, Spa Director at Coworth Park. 

How have yourself and your team responded to being back in the spa, following lockdown? 

The team are simply delighted to be back doing what they love.  Initially the return to work can be very daunting for most, especially as the guidance continues to change day to day.  Throughout lockdown we kept regularly in touch with all team members via virtual sessions, providing useful links to enable them to update their skill toolbox and supporting their overall wellbeing at a very uncertain time.  Although we have not been able to welcome all team members back fully as of yet we are moving positively in the right direction. I for one certainly believe that all members of the public will be looking to boost their immunity, taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and that spa’s more than ever will provide a pathway for this to be achieved.
- Amanda 

It has been wonderful to return to some semblance of normality! We take for granted the psychological benefits of being around a positive team all working towards the same goal and the job satisfaction from welcoming guests back to their wellbeing journey. We are a family and the challenges have brought us even closer together (metaphorically of course in reality there is social distances being upheld) 
- Victoria 

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the additional learning, research and networking that helped in setting all the new standards for the spa. The team have been brilliant settling into the new normal including all the new protocols and procedures that have been introduced. During the lockdown period the team were engaged in weekly training sessions, plus we had a weekly team catch up on zoom and I arranged a full re-engage plan that included onsite training all of which prepared them for returning to work. I think that this has benefited us in such a positive way as the team knew what to expect and are confident with the new standards and new way of working. 
- Teresa 

Have you implemented new procedures/policies that you’ll now retain going forward? Such as booking online, consultation online etc 

The early days of re-opening for the hotel where particularly challenging.  Renowned as a spa destination we had to get creative quickly, to ensure the hotel could re-open with spa opening dates pushed back on the re-opening roadmap.  Successes included expansion of our in-room extras list, to include virtual in-room facial masterclasses with one of our Temple Spa guru’s. Also outdoor spa parties for residents, social spaced of course, as well as garden room candle light dinners, which take advantage of our acres of open space.  We quickly implemented virtual classes to allow our spa members and team members to train at home and maintain our very loyal membership base. We  certainly see a combination of onsite and virtual classes as part of our fitness offering to continue to achieve social distancing.  In terms of online spa bookings, our closure gave us some much needed time to develop this part of the spa business to enhance our guest experience, to ease the volume of calls into the reservations hub, as members of the team remain on furlough or where possible work from home.  We are now starting to see the benefit of spa bookings online and consider this as an essential procedure that can help the spa bounce back and react to demand.
- Amanda 

Prior to arrival, guests complete an online pre-arrival questionnaire and their temperature is checked on arrival. Numbers are also severely restricted to allow for social distancing at poolside.  While the close contact restrictions are in place, we are running our ‘A New Beginning’ menu which comprises of a select few treatments which are designed to boost wellbeing, while still safely fall within the parameters of the restrictions.
- Victoria 

Very early on in the lockdown period it became very apparent that we would need to rely on technology mor, in order to become a paperless spa, as part of the new recommended protocols.  I therefore, arranged for our spa soft booking system to be upgraded. This has benefitted us in many ways including; electronic health consultation forms completed prior to guest arrival, automated email confirmations for all the additional swimming pool and gym bookings, locker allocations allowing us to use zones within the changing room to comply with social distancing , plus the use of iPads in the operations which are easy to sanitise after use. This was something that was already on my list as part of our sustainability project for the spa and we were able to bring this forward so it was in place for our reopening.
- Teresa 

How are guests reacting to the new guidelines and treatment options? 
We are operating at reduced capacity for full spa day guests and evening spa guests only.  We are known for our guest experience and ‘Northern Hospitality’ so our guests have really missed this. Everyone at this moment is searching for a sense of freedom and we promote this sense of escapism and comfort to all that visit. Our guest feedback has been amazing, without hesitance to the reduced treatments and face coverings around dry areas of the spa. However, equally there are a lot of people choosing to visit us at a later date, once we have fuller facilities available in terms of heat experiences. 
- Amanda Hardy

A mixed bag! Our guests are either completely over Covid-19 and are quite cross that it is not business as usual or completely lovely and so grateful and happy we are open, we have had lots of lovely feedback about how safe they feel with us.
- Victoria 

We are operating on a reduced treatment menu offering a variety of 60 minute treatments. The feedback from the therapists and guests has been both positive and complimentary. Our guest are very understanding and comforted by our new procedures and the checks that we have in place. We have a turnaround time of 30 minutes between each treatment to allow full sanitisation of the room to be completed. It is certainly evident that there is a pent-up demand for treatments and we have been extremely busy since we reopened on the 1st August.
- Teresa 

It would be interesting to understand what the guest preferences are, in terms of facilities?  

There are guests pushing back their reservations until the saunas and steam rooms open, but those that are here are loving being in the outdoor pools, especially in the glorious weather we have been enjoying lately. 
- Victoria
The swimming pool and the spa sun terrace have been very popular with our guests as have the additional outdoor wellness activities we have introduced during this time which include yoga, chi-gong and wellness walks. Our spa members are so happy to be back and fully support us with our new polices. 
- Teresa 


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Saturday, 31 October 2020