When Laurence Huggler planned the Club Hotel & Spa, one of his aims was to help usher in a new era of tourism on Jersey. The contemporary styling of the hotel and the Michelin-starred modern European cuisine of its fine-dining restaurant were two elements of that goal. Another was the spa itself.
Until the hotel's opening last August, Jersey had plenty of beauty salons but no spas. Dawn Chinchen, the spa manager, says the team didn't know how the local clientele would react. "Only in the past two months have the locals caught on," she says.
One thing that helped to increase take-up were the gift vouchers people bought before Christmas, bringing a steady stream of custom since the New Year. Word has now got round about the spa and its treatments. This is important as, in the quieter winter months, the spa needs to push on without much footfall from the hotel, and it's now achieving this. The plan was for the spa to turn over £500,000 in its first year and, after four months, it has done £148,000.
The quiet beginning had one advantage, because the novelty of a spa on the island also meant Chinchen had to train most of her staff from scratch. "They had worked in beauty salons," she says, "but in a hotel and a spa it's completely different."
First, her therapists needed to learn a new range of treatments, rather than the facials and waxing which are the staples of salons. Second, a hotel relies on far fewer regulars, so they have to learn to build a relationship with a client in only two hours. Finally, each therapist has to learn to act as a concierge for the hotel as well as the spa. "If someone needs somewhere to eat," Chinchen says, "or asks a question about the island, our therapists must be able to follow through those guest requests."
Chinchen recommends building a team with a mix of novices and those with more experience. "The first-timers will have lots of enthusiasm and are great to train," she says, "but you need one or two with experience or else you'll be doing a lot of training."
She employs five full-time therapists, functioning herself as spa manager. She also employs two spa concierges - receptionists whom she will train to become therapists. "Each person must be able to do all the jobs," she says.
The spa, designed by the hotel's architect, Goff Design, with input from consultant Neil Howard and Chinchen herself, offers two main treatment lines: Algotherm and Shankara.
Algotherm is a French product, with a high algae content which is said to remineralise the skin. Shankara is an Indian treatment line based on Ayurvedic healing principles - "we wanted to be a detox spa with elements of healing," explains Chinchen.
The team want guests to take on treatments as complete as possible, so if a Shankara treatment is chosen they will try to encourage the guest to take, say, a Tibetan foot-bowl massage and Ayurvedic face massage as well. Most treatments last one-and-a-half to two hours.
One big success has been the half-day and full-day packages. The latter includes four treatments and lunch at the Club restaurant at a cost between £210 and £295. By including lunch, the full-day package also has the advantage of encouraging guests to try out another of the hotel's facilities.
The current split between hotel users and local clients is about 50:50. For those who aren't comfortable with the more alternative treatments, the spa also offers traditional sports massages and facials. But Chinchen is certain her clientele will become more demanding.
"We'll have to grow the number of treatments," she says, "bringing in Reiki perhaps, and others - whatever will keep that difference."
The Club Hotel & Spa
The Club Hotel & Spa was opened on 21 August by Lawrence Huggler. His family already owned the site's freehold through their St Helier printing business, but it still took £7m to get the project off the ground. This included the fine-dining restaurant, Bohemia, opened in 2003 and which earlier this year was awarded its first Michelin star.
Looking ahead, Huggler hopes the hotel will record a gross operating profit of £750,000 to £850,000.