Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia: A demand for wellness

By Sarah Camilleri


By Sarah Camilleri

23 November 2020

Italy’s Borgo Egnazia, a serene five-star resort in Savelletri di Fasano, Puglia, is proud home to the award-winning Vair Spa, which is renowned for its holistic approach to wellbeing and happiness.

When hotels and resorts were given the green light to reopen in Italy, director of wellbeing Erica D’Angelo and her dedicated spa team were ready to answer the call for touch therapies and post-recovery spa time.

After two months, all the signs indicate that guests are more tuned in than ever before to experience the spa’s transformational programmes and lockdown recovery approach. Here, D’Angelo shares the hard work and dedication that went into preparing for reopening.

Vair Spa's luxurious indoor pool

When did you reopen Vair Spa and what has been the reaction from guests?

I’m proud to say that we were ready for operation and delivered our first treatments on May 25, the first day that Borgo Egnazia reopened. The spa itself didn’t open until June 13, but we created a dedicated in-room menu for guests to choose from.

The good news is that people’s comfort level around returning to spa is pretty high. We have heavily invested in training our team and adapting our offering to incorporate all relevant safety requirements – from cleaning to prevention measures.

How else have you adapted your business to suit the post-lockdown landscape?

Overall, our spa experience has had to undergo many changes and we have had to rethink the guest journey. For example, our wet spa facilities and thermal area are currently off limits. Although we have modified our procedures we can still deliver a high-quality experience. We ask our guests to respect the new regulations, such as wearing a mask at all times and taking showers prior to their treatments.

“Covid-19 has made what’s important to people come into very sharp focus: physical and mental health and connection with family and friends. This crisis has truly accelerated the mainstreaming of wellness.”

Erica D’Angelo

Director of wellbeing, Borgo Egnazia

Our initial in-room service menu, for singles and couples, was delivered in our villas or with privacy in the gardens. When we reopened the spa we offered a new set of experiences to help with lockdown recovery, all designed to reinforce the immune system.

The spa is a place of traditionally inspired peace and relaxation

What are the most popular treatments now?

Undoubtedly, our massages have been the most popular. Our concept is based on the ‘Science of Happiness’ and we are very aware of the need of oxytocin, the ‘hug and love’ hormone that people started searching for after lockdown. We are social animals and physical contact is extremely important for our wellbeing. Not being able to touch others during lockdown has created the urge to return to our cocooning rituals. Most of our clients since reopening have been Italians, and you can imagine what it means for us to have not been able to hug each other.

How successful have your attempts been to create a ‘new normal’ for guests?

I have to say that I didn’t expect such a high demand from the first day. I have been very surprised to see that, although overall guest numbers are reduced, the returning rate to spa services during their stay has increased dramatically. The feedback that we have received is that our guests can see that every detail has been cared for in order to preserve hygiene and maintain safety conditions, so they feel relaxed and comfortable in our environment.

Vair Spa is renowned for its unique treatment offering

How has your team responded to the challenge?

Amazingly. This is thanks to the huge engagement we achieved with each other during the lockdown period. Not only did the Borgo Egnazia talent development team create a rich agenda of training content that revolved around wellbeing and the ‘Science of Happiness’, but also a WhatsApp group was set up that brought smiles and laughter to our days in lockdown.

My spa supervisor and I have been very close, always thinking about how to make our team feel safe during these tough months and ensuring they maintained a high level of positivity for reopening.

Our team has also been highly motivated and united when it comes to ensuring our standards are consistently implemented and respected. I know that this teamwork has led to the success we are seeing after having only been reopened for two months. Our average daily revenue is now aligned with last year’s performance, proportionate to the areas available and staffing.

What positives have you taken from the experience of the past few months?

Lockdown provided me with space for creativity, innovation and personal growth. We have been living in an ‘experience economy’ with wellbeing as a key component. After this trauma, I think people will have more incentive to dedicate their time and thoughts to a lifestyle that makes them feel good.

If people are limited financially as a result of this, they will prioritise doing something good for themselves and their families. We’ve seen in past recessions that wellness is a resilient market.

I think mental wellness and life coaching will become an even bigger focus and will be the next evolution of the spa and wellbeing industry. The lockdown has shifted what people need most and thrown into sharp relief how healthcare is failing us on this issue. But when you talk to people now, what matters more are diffferent kinds of wellbeing.

Covid-19 has made what’s important to people come into very clear focus: physical and mental health and connection with family and friends. This crisis has truly accelerated the mainstreaming of wellness.

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