At the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, guests will soon be getting five-step Turkish massages.
At the Peninsula Beverly Hills, guests will soon be able to walk across heated limestone on the rooftop garden to their private poolside cabanas, where they can watch flat-screen TVs while getting massages.
The Renaissance has added a $10 million spa to its repertoire, and the Peninsula is making a $4 million upgrade to its rooftop garden, which includes outdoor spa amenities. The deluxe facilities will roll out in the coming weeks.
A great spa, of course, has been an important offering at upscale hotels for years, but lately the drive to offer an opulent spa has taken on new urgency. Several upper-end L.A. hotels are unveiling luxurious spas and poolside cabanas in an effort to keep up with, or outdo, each other.
"To have a spa in a hotel is absolutely essential and it must be a great physical product and provide a great experience," said Offer Nissenbaum, managing director of the five-star Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.
Indeed, the Beverly Regent Wilshire, the Beverly Hilton and Sofitel LA opened spas when they remodeled in 2006. The Peninsula revamped its offerings that year but didn't stop there. The Peninsula rooftop garden will reopen April 15. Close behind will be the Renaissance Spa Luce, which will open May 1.
The craze extends to hotels in outlying areas, too. The Pacific Palms Resort in Industry Hills, recently spent $5 million on a new spa.
Hilton Hotels Corp. is spending $200 million to launch 135 state-of-the-art, full-service luxury spas at its upscale hotel brands, such as its Waldorf-Astoria Collection and Conrad Hotels & Resorts.
Alexander Marza, the company's senior vice president of corporate development, said luxury spas are necessities at its higher-end hotels.
Just creating a spa is not enough. Hotels must continuously revamp their amenities. "You have to reinvent yourself and you have to keep investing in your property," Nissenbaum said.
New services include reflexology, precious gem treatments and extended moonlight massages on the rooftop garden. Some of the other new features include the installation of heated limestone tiles around the pool and a dozen spacious cabanas, which can be used for private minispas or couple's massages. The cabanas are also equipped with flat-screen TVs, fax machines and Wi-Fi.
At the Renaissance, the $10 million Spa Luce was financed by CIM Group Inc., which owns the property. The hotel, which is operated by Marriott International Inc., is adding the suffix " & Spa" to its name.
The Renaissance also plans to revamp its pool deck and cabanas to coordinate with the adjoining spa's Moroccan-sanctuary decor.
Prices for services at Renaissance's Spa Luce range from $115 to $475, and the spa expects to book about 38 treatments each day. The Peninsula's spa services range from $175 to $385, and the hotel on average currently books about 60 treatments daily.
Spa customers don't have to be hotel guests. A large part of the business comes from local visitors.
Helen Storer, Spa Luce's director, believes her facility will attract many Hollywood Hills residents.
The Renaissance, however, isn't in the same class as Beverly Hills hotspots the Beverly Regent Wilshire or Peninsula.
Chris Orr, director of marketing for Renaissance Hollywood, said when Spa Luce opens it will be the only spa destination in the area, so residents living within a few miles could change their habits and pamper themselves closer to home rather than drive an extra few miles west.
But Spa Luce will not be the only luxury spa in its neighborhood for much longer. The Renaissance Hotel and its spa will face serious competition from W Hotels Worldwide, said Jim Butler, a hospitality attorney at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmarmo. The swanky chain is opening a hotel with a Bliss Spa in 2009, just down the street.
But does every upper-end hotel really need to give the spa treatment?
"Not every hotel has a spa and not every hotel needs a spa. There needs to be a big demand base first," said Bruce Baltin, a hospitality expert at PKF Consulting. Plus, they have to be suited to guests' needs.
"While spas can augment hotel business, not every spa is developed in the right way to optimize revenues," Baltin said.
Still, PKF's recent industry study on the hotel spa industry showed a 9.7 percent rise in profits last year. After rooms, spas have the second-highest profit margin for hotels. Because the spas are becoming a bigger part of the bottom line, the spa trend will likely persist.
Marza at Hilton said the stressful lifestyle of "the BlackBerry generation" accounts for growing the demand to decompress.
Nissenbaum and Storer noted that people are becoming more aware of the health dangers caused by stress. As a result, there's a new willingness to pay for measures to seek calm.
"As baby boomers become more affluent, we want to spoil ourselves," Butler said. "Spas are part of this concept."
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