A plunge pool at The Spa
at Mandarin Oriental, New York
Spas in city hotels certainly have changed over
the past two decades. “The old urban spa was a 10-by-14-foot room
not much better than a closet, adjacent to the gym,” says Craig
Reid, who serves as general manager of the Four Seasons Resort and
Club Dallas at Las Colinas and oversees the chain’s spas. “As you
were getting your massage, you’d hear the guys on the
Today, urban spas are more dignified affairs, and not just
because they’re soundproof. The resort spa boom of recent years
proved that a must-try facility could attract transient travel and
meetings alike. As city life grows more hectic, downtown properties
have begun to understand a sumptuous hotel spa can likewise be a
On the following pages, M&C reports on some market
leaders and the impact they’ll have on the way business meetings
Four Seasons Toronto-based Four Seasons started focusing on
building spas in all its resorts five years ago. More recently,
however, the mission to pamper has broadened to the urban
landscape. Craig Reid says vacation lengths are decreasing, leading
travelers to favor cities over resorts and splurge on the spa.
“We’re looking for quick recharge,” Reid notes. “People will
pay a richer premium for a more luxurious and unique
In terms of design, Four Seasons spas vary widely; however, the
general trend veers away from the stately and toward the casual.
For example, at the Four Seasons Dallas, a recent renovation
changed the look of the spa from the marble-and-gold standard to a
textured look, with pebbles and limestone. “It reflects the modern
palate for luxury, which has become deformalized,” Reid explains.
“The symbol of luxury of yesteryear was the Rolls-Royce; today it’s
the Mercedes or Lexus elegant but understated. The same is true
Four Seasons opened spas most recently in Miami and San
Francisco. The Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto
(Calif.) will have a spa when it opens in early 2006, and spas are
in planning stages at the chain’s properties in Atlanta and Los
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts has just seven urban spas in North America
(and 15 internationally), but facilities are planned in 29 of 35
upcoming urban hotels, and existing hotels have begun to
investigate the feasibility of adding spas. Locations with a strong
local market have been getting the green light.
Gordon Tareta, director of spa operations for the Chicago-based
chain, says meeting planners favor city hotels with spas over those
without, even though most meetings in urban settings do not include
an afternoon at the spa.
“If all the amenities are there to choose from, it’s certainly
a decision-making factor when choosing the hotel,” says Tareta.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego has had a spa since it
opened; however, in March 2004, a new, neoclassically decorated
facility with eight treatment rooms, a second pool deck and a
fitness center debuted at the property.
“What we have to offer is comparable to a half-day excursion,”
says Jennie Breister, spa director. “We consider ourselves an urban