Senior Hotel, Tourism and Spa Consultant
What has changed in mountain tourism over the last two decades?
Stéphanie RYCHEMBUSCH: According to Atout France, with 325 ski resorts spread over 6 mountain massifs, 14 of which are used for over one million skier-days, France occupies one of the first positions in the worldwide ski market. The resorts of La Plagne, Les Arcs and Courchevel-Méribel are among the world’s leading resorts in terms of the number of skier-days. The stability in the number of people over these last years confirms that the snow and mountain tourism sector is in a mature phase. The main developments seen in recent years are in the diversification of the accommodation offering and activities in this sector. Indeed, even though skiing remains the principal tourist activity, new indoor and outdoor activities are now entering into the equation. Ski resorts are becoming veritable leisure destinations for all, through the creation of aqua-fun parks for example. In some lower-altitude thermal Spa resorts, the deployment of relaxation activities and Spa services within the hydrotherapy centres has enabled business activity to be developed outside the usual seasons and has thus created a corresponding increase in the number of clients, after years of decreasing numbers in traditional “curiste” clients. Other changes have taken place with regards to traditional accommodation, which is no longer as popular as it once was. In fact, other analyses, like those of KPMG, have shown a downward trend in the number of nights spent in traditional hotels, whereas tourist apartment complexes have recorded occupancy rates that have been steadily increasing since 2004, and even exceed 70% in winter months. The holiday villages are not far behind and have also seen their occupancy rates increase.
Has the Spa become an inevitable feature for mountain hotels?
S.R.: It is true to say that the Spa has, more than ever, a role to play. The concentration of upmarket hotels at the heart of numerous tourist destinations often brings about a corresponding multiplication in Spa offerings. This allows the expectations of different types of clientele to be satisfied: the non-skiers, the sizeable number of foreign clients (up to 50% in some high altitude resorts), the increasing Seniors segment, members of the same family, etc., as well as providing alternatives should the weather prove to be fickle. In any case, what is more natural than combining wellbeing and treatments with a stay in the mountains? Reflecting the approach taken by mountain hotels in developing wellbeing services, holiday villages and tourist apartment complexes have, for some time, been including the Spa when defining their offering. Some companies (Club Med, Lagrange, Pierre & Vacances, MGM, CGH, etc.) have elaborated their own concept and have duplicated this in numerous resorts.
What advice would you give to an operator who wants to create a Spa in a mountain hotel?
S.R.: Above all, it is important to analyse the competitive set in terms of offer and demand. It is an essential stage when KPMG is carrying out a commercial and financial feasibility study for a Spa creation project. I would even go as far as saying that it is even more indispensable in very popular destinations like some mountain resorts or in Paris or on the Côte d’Azur, where there is a major concentration of Spas. Indeed, in these hyper-competitive environments, hoteliers show remarkable ingenuity when differentiating their Spa offering and push co-branding to incredible limits by linking exclusive winner partnerships with cosmetics brands. It should be said that, for these brands, it is certainly an ideal opportunity to showcase their products before an international upmarket clientele. The Spa concept almost has a duty to be refined and authentic, with treatments that emphasise all that is pure, white and natural, oxygen and hydration, and re-energising and targeted after-ski massages. Open the Spa space as much as possible to the outside, even if this does present quite a challenge in some establishments. Proposing “anti-stress” and “detox” packages may be an advantage to generate short stays before and after the winter season. Including a Kids’ Spa in a family destination is also a sensible idea.
► Discover below, some pages of this magazine online:
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03/05/2013 - ILTM Spa: The Focus for an Emerging Industry
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