Wellness design: Beverley Bayes on naturally inspired spa solutions

By European Spa

By European Spa

28 December 2020

As part of a series of interviews, we asked three international designers what spas can do to make their existing wellness spaces more suitable for post-pandemic operations in 2021.

Sparcstudio’s Beverley Bayes predicts that guests will want to escape hermetically sealed, artificial environments in favour of embracing the outdoors with natural pools and spa gardens becoming even more attractive for guests.

The Forest Garden relaxation room at Aqua Sana, Center Parcs Longford Forest

“The enforced closure period that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about is an opportunity to take stock of your spa and think about the ways in which your guest experience can be refreshed.

“There will be a certain level of anxiety over safety from guests returning to spas, but retaining the ‘soul’ of your spa is primarily about ensuring that the subtle sensory elements and personal touches are emphasised.

Cottonmill Club at Sopwell House, UK

“In order to avoid sanitising the spa experience, undertake a ‘sensory audit’ to review the more subtle elements in your property and consider how these can be improved or highlighted.

“This includes an aroma audit to find out what your spa really smells like, then look at how relaxation room and heat cabin scents can be used to provide a more natural and botanical ambience.

Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, UK

“I would recommend reviewing the levels of comfort that your spa provides, including refreshment points and vanity station amenities. Having plenty of towel drops and well placed bins, ideally integrated into spa fixtures, makes it easier to maintain the perception of a clean environment.

Beverley Bayes’ wellness design takeaways

Spa in nature: Post-Covid-19, there will be an even greater emphasis on outdoor spas and a link to nature

Macro to micro: Large, communal relaxation spaces will give way to more intimate spaces, including pod changing rooms and smaller shared treatment rooms

Health is the new wealth: The lines between wellness, spa and fitness will be more blurred and even more in demand as guests look to be healthier in mind and body

“Now is also a good time to review your soft furnishings and consider replacing tired, synthetic throws with soft, stonewashed organic cotton and new cushions to refresh and add colour. Provide further links to nature through extra planting and consider adding some beautiful new features, such as low-maintenance suspended air-plants, terrariums or succulents mounted on driftwood to add a more contemporary vibe.”

Providing personal space

“Inevitably after the lockdown, guests will need and appreciate more personal space in spas, so it’s important as an operator to look at how this can be achieved. ‘Free to roam’ areas, such as pools, thermal suites and relaxation spaces, will need to rely more on signage and other methods to inform.

A meditation room at Sopwell House, UK

“The recent trend for added transparency in thermal suite design is a great benefit as it allows guests to check, through glass enclosures, how busy a heat cabin is prior to entering.

“Where rooms are dark or enclosed, it is possible to incorporate sensors and a small electronic screen near the door to show which of the beds are occupied. This also minimises the disturbance of guests already in the room when doors are opened and closed unnecessarily.

About Beverley Bayes

Practice: Sparcstudio

Notable UK spa projects: Dormy House Spa, South Lodge Spa, Exclusive Hotels, Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, Aqua Sanas at Sherwood Forest, Longleat Forest, UK and Longford Forest, Ireland

Design ethos: Unique, authentic, experience-led design

“Guests will want to escape artificial environments and will embrace the outdoors with natural pools and spa gardens bound to be popular. Be it a garden, a courtyard, a roof terrace or just a view through an open window, there are many opportunities to enable clients to return to nature.

“Outdoor sensory experiences could include relaxation zones dotted around an aromatic herb garden; daybeds arranged around a firepit sprinkled with cedar chips; or playful swinging seats alongside a beautiful trickling water feature.”

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