Cateys 2023: Best Use of Technology Award: The Lowry

04 July 2023
Cateys 2023: Best Use of Technology Award: The Lowry

The Lowry wins the Best Use of Technology Award sponsored by Enhance Hospitality/Logit

Judges were so impressed with the launch of the Lowry's technology-driven spa they were keen to visit themselves to test it out. The five-AA-star, 165-bedroom hotel on the banks of the River Irwell close to Manchester city centre relaunched its RE:TREAT spa in November 2022 following a £750,000 investment.

Although the hotel's existing spa continued to attract customers, it was seen as lacking its own identity and unique selling point and had higher staffing costs than competitor sites as it was heavily reliant on therapists to drive sales.

Using this insight, the Lowry's commercial director Kelly Andreasson created a business plan for the new spa backed by data and spa user research. RE:TREAT balances traditional spa techniques with wellness technology such as a cryotherapy chamber, a sensory deprivation tank, virtual reality (VR) experience and meditation pod.

A VR guided meditation sees guests use a headset to choose from 14 high-quality videos to experience real-world locations including beaches, forests and waterfalls alongside audio of breath awareness or deep relaxation led by male or female voices.

By enhancing the spa's existing e-commerce system, RE:TREAT has also created additional retail opportunities for the hotel with an online store.

The investment has more than paid off. Since relaunching, the new facilities, classes, and specialised equipment has increased monthly turnover at the spa and guests are now staying for longer to make use of the variety of treatments and classes that were not previously available.

Some 60% of revenue comes from the treatments provided, which include sound healing classes. In the first quarter since the relaunch the spa has delivered 41% top-line revenue growth on 2019 levels and 43% profit growth – 25% of which is attributed to the new equipment.

Following a strong opening period, the Lowry expects to see turnover double for the full year ahead. The launch was a success with a PR campaign promoting RE:TREAT as the ‘UK's first tech spa'. This was supported with a series of regional and national media reviews from health and lifestyle journalists, which led to 205 pieces of press coverage.

Judges praised the Lowry for its "brave and innovative approach" that had been carefully implemented and brought in healthy returns for the business.

One judge noted that as a smaller business the Lowry faced a challenge to drive forward technology with a small team. "Admiration has to go to our winner for achieving so much with limited resources," they added.

What the judges said

"A really exciting and interesting entry. I want to go and experience it. Impressive tech both hard and soft with lighting and medical science thrown in, it deserves to be a huge success." Charles Boyd

"A brave and innovative approach that's been well considered and carefully implemented and, above all, realised healthy returns for the business." Darren Sweetland

The shortlist

  • The Elms, Worcestershire
  • The Lowry hotel, Manchester
  • Rockliffe Hall, Darlington

The judges

  • Stephen Minall, Moving Food
  • Charles Boyd, 8 Northumberland Avenue
  • Kane Bridgman, Amadeus
  • Jane Pendlebury HOSPA
  • Darren Sweetland, Mollie's Motel & Diner
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