On the fast track to spa success
Some spa directors would have balked at the challenge. Spa treatments are by definition leisurely experiences that leave you totally relaxed. How can you achieve that result in just 20 minutes?
When Lyndall Mitchell, founder of Aurora Spa, was invited to provide spa services in Qantas' First Lounges in Melbourne and Sydney in 2014 she embraced the opportunity to devise a menu of 20-minute treatments.
"We have always been about maximum results in minimum time," Mitchell says. Usually that means adding extras. Book a pedicure at an Aurora Spa, for example, and you will be offered an eye mask, a choice of music or visualisation – oh yes, and you will get to stretch out for the duration of the treatment.
This time, Mitchell took a different tack. "We had to look at which treatments we could effectively deliver in that time," she says. Manicures and pedicures were out, whereas express facials and body treatments made the cut. "Every traveller has some tension somewhere they want to get rid of," she says. "The treatments have been getting rave reviews."
Aurora's partnership with Qantas – it has also designed a bespoke product range for the First Lounges and supplies products on board and in business class lounges – is the latest of a series of strategic partnerships that has made Aurora one of the main players in the Australian spa industry. Since Mitchell launched her brand 18 years ago the industry in Australia has boomed. In the past 10 years it has grown 4.7 per cent annually, IBISWorld says. However, with a total worth of $387 million it is tiny compared with the global industry, valued at $94 billion by SRI International.
"It is a young market, so lots of opportunities have come up, and we have been careful about which opportunities we take up," Mitchell says. Aurora's two spas are housed in five-star hotels – The Prince in Melbourne and Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast – and the brand also works with Sephora, which stocks its ASPAR products in its stores.
Mitchell drew her inspiration from European spa traditions. "I love that approach where wellness is integrated into life and into the healthcare system," she says. Mitchell designed her urban spas to help clients integrate wellness into their daily life. Over the years the offerings have changed, with early services such as personal training dropped in favour of a focus on body treatments and skincare treatments. "We found clients want to switch off rather than rev up," Mitchell says.
The business has grown by more than 10 per cent almost every year since its inception and now employs more than 100 staff, who have delivered 500,000 treatments. In addition to the spas themselves, there is the 26-strong ASPAR product range made with Australian botanicals, and a training and development arm.
Mitchell expects that the revenue from the product line will overtake the spas soon as the business' most profitable arm. The training and development arm remains an important tool for raising brand awareness, with Mitchell delivering wellness masterclasses for corporate clients including the NAB.
"We call it the Boardroom Retreat and it is about giving people two hours' worth of life skills," Mitchell says. "Workloads are going up, stress is going up – it is vital that people have a place to wind down. A few little moments of mindfulness throughout the day – whether that is inhaling the aroma of our rose and aloe body wash in the shower, or a one-minute meditation – can help a leader function effectively.
"Ultimately, what we are about is giving our clients the support to be the best they can be personally and professionally."
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