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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Spa experiences: Going public

All across the UK, the momentum is growing behind the public sector spa. David Thompson reports

Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Forget traditional perceptions of conservative local authority operations: today a growing number of partnership operators and leisure trusts are evolving the public sector offering.

Spa is a particular case in point, with brands such as Everyone Active, One Leisure and Glasgow Life changing consumers’ impressions of local authority facilities and services ever since the trailblazing GLL Spa London and Pendle Wavelength developments broke onto the scene in 2007 – and they are reaping the rewards.

GLL director of operations Andy McCabe believes that “social trends evolve rapidly, and what was once considered unattainable luxury can quickly be perceived as a basic necessity and lifestyle choice”. Sarah Watts, MD of Alliance Leisure, goes further, saying: “Local authorities’ agendas have changed dramatically over the last decade with regards to leisure. Provision is no longer just about traditional sports; instead, it focuses on wellness and social cohesion. Leisure facilities are becoming community hubs that aim to address health issues. Essentially they are places of enrichment.”

Attracting new markets
This new spa market promises a variety of benefits to the forward-thinking operator. “A high quality health spa offering means you can compete against the high-end private membership and also help retention when challenged by the budget gym at the cheap end of the market,” says Sally Barnes, operations manager at GL1 for leisure trust Aspire.
In addition to competing for existing customers in the spa market, Phil Storey, CEO of Pendle Leisure Services, has seen a new demographic at the Pendle Wavelengths site: “Many people will not have the opportunity to experience a private spa. Inside Spa has enabled us to bring health and wellbeing spa services to everyone at an affordable price.”

“It’s an inclusive, holistic approach to health,” agrees Alison Norman, contract manager for Everyone Active’s new Westminster Lodge centre. “Traditional leisure customers find the services valuable, plus there’s a whole new demographic that is attracted and introduced to our wider offering.”

Alliance Leisure, among others, also cites complementary spa products as valuable contributors to the overall user experience and member retention. GLL’s ‘Gym & Tonic’ treatment, for example, is designed for pre/post workout, and in this way expands and complement the existing range of services. “This is in contrast to the private sector model, where spas have traditionally been standalone or within hotels,” says McCabe.

In addition, Pendle Leisure Services, Alliance Leisure, One Leisure and Everyone Active all agree that spas offer considerable revenue generation opportunities, and some relate this to supporting loss-making swimming pools.

Recipe for success
Heinz Schletterer, CEO and owner of the Schletterer International Group, says: “Public spas that are particularly successful are focusing on health elements, such as mineral- and trace element-enriched baths, healing liquid applications, relaxation programmes, steam and aroma baths, light and sound therapy. The public sector must not make the mistake of providing uninspired community wellness facilities for the sake of it, but needs authentic and competitive concepts in order to be successful.”

“Capital spend has to be controlled and linked to the affordability identified in the business plan,” adds Watts. “In our experience, capital costs of over £1.2m may not be viable in terms of creating a sustainable bottom line.”

Growing momentum
Not everyone agrees with the current move towards public sector spas. “Most council areas aren’t able to invest and maintain top-end facilities,” states Barr and Wray’s Lorne Kennedy. Competitor Dalesauna sees things differently however, with sales director Gerard McCarthy saying: “Public sector facilities are allowing people to embrace wellbeing activities as part of healthy lifestyles, not just guilty pleasures.”

Certainly there are a number of examples of successful public sector spa developments across the UK, from Glasgow and Pendle in the north to St Albans in the south. As demand and public opinion continues to evolve, perhaps the question isn’t if the UK public sector will catch up with the holistic health and wellbeing offer of its continental counterparts, but when.

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features

Spa experiences: Going public

All across the UK, the momentum is growing behind the public sector spa. David Thompson reports

Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Forget traditional perceptions of conservative local authority operations: today a growing number of partnership operators and leisure trusts are evolving the public sector offering.

Spa is a particular case in point, with brands such as Everyone Active, One Leisure and Glasgow Life changing consumers’ impressions of local authority facilities and services ever since the trailblazing GLL Spa London and Pendle Wavelength developments broke onto the scene in 2007 – and they are reaping the rewards.

GLL director of operations Andy McCabe believes that “social trends evolve rapidly, and what was once considered unattainable luxury can quickly be perceived as a basic necessity and lifestyle choice”. Sarah Watts, MD of Alliance Leisure, goes further, saying: “Local authorities’ agendas have changed dramatically over the last decade with regards to leisure. Provision is no longer just about traditional sports; instead, it focuses on wellness and social cohesion. Leisure facilities are becoming community hubs that aim to address health issues. Essentially they are places of enrichment.”

Attracting new markets
This new spa market promises a variety of benefits to the forward-thinking operator. “A high quality health spa offering means you can compete against the high-end private membership and also help retention when challenged by the budget gym at the cheap end of the market,” says Sally Barnes, operations manager at GL1 for leisure trust Aspire.
In addition to competing for existing customers in the spa market, Phil Storey, CEO of Pendle Leisure Services, has seen a new demographic at the Pendle Wavelengths site: “Many people will not have the opportunity to experience a private spa. Inside Spa has enabled us to bring health and wellbeing spa services to everyone at an affordable price.”

“It’s an inclusive, holistic approach to health,” agrees Alison Norman, contract manager for Everyone Active’s new Westminster Lodge centre. “Traditional leisure customers find the services valuable, plus there’s a whole new demographic that is attracted and introduced to our wider offering.”

Alliance Leisure, among others, also cites complementary spa products as valuable contributors to the overall user experience and member retention. GLL’s ‘Gym & Tonic’ treatment, for example, is designed for pre/post workout, and in this way expands and complement the existing range of services. “This is in contrast to the private sector model, where spas have traditionally been standalone or within hotels,” says McCabe.

In addition, Pendle Leisure Services, Alliance Leisure, One Leisure and Everyone Active all agree that spas offer considerable revenue generation opportunities, and some relate this to supporting loss-making swimming pools.

Recipe for success
Heinz Schletterer, CEO and owner of the Schletterer International Group, says: “Public spas that are particularly successful are focusing on health elements, such as mineral- and trace element-enriched baths, healing liquid applications, relaxation programmes, steam and aroma baths, light and sound therapy. The public sector must not make the mistake of providing uninspired community wellness facilities for the sake of it, but needs authentic and competitive concepts in order to be successful.”

“Capital spend has to be controlled and linked to the affordability identified in the business plan,” adds Watts. “In our experience, capital costs of over £1.2m may not be viable in terms of creating a sustainable bottom line.”

Growing momentum
Not everyone agrees with the current move towards public sector spas. “Most council areas aren’t able to invest and maintain top-end facilities,” states Barr and Wray’s Lorne Kennedy. Competitor Dalesauna sees things differently however, with sales director Gerard McCarthy saying: “Public sector facilities are allowing people to embrace wellbeing activities as part of healthy lifestyles, not just guilty pleasures.”

Certainly there are a number of examples of successful public sector spa developments across the UK, from Glasgow and Pendle in the north to St Albans in the south. As demand and public opinion continues to evolve, perhaps the question isn’t if the UK public sector will catch up with the holistic health and wellbeing offer of its continental counterparts, but when.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

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Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

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Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

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Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
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Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
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Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features