Anna Hubbard, spa business manager at The Good Spa Guide, talks about the importance of design in attracting consumers in the first instance, and in creating a unique and memorable experience.

Could you please provide a brief overview of The Good Spa Guide, and your role?
The Good Spa Guide is the expert guide to the best spas and treatments in the UK. Founded in 2006 by medical and health journalist, Daphne Metland, a regular contributor to the travel sections of The Times and the Daily Mail. She was also travel editor on Family Circle magazine, editor of Parents magazine and has worked on Good Housekeeping and Homes & Gardens. 

After having a terrible experience at a spa with a friend, Daphne felt the need for a go-to site for spa reviews and The Good Spa Guide was born.

Since 2006, the company has grown to become a platform for spa excellence in the UK and overseas. The Good Spa Guide now hosts a directory of the best spas, reviews by authorities in the industry, spa packages, features, expert advice, and all four and five bubble spas are featured in its coffee table book. The Good Spa Guide operates the trademarked bubble rating™ system and, of course, the prestigious annual Good Spa Guide Awards.

The Good Spa Guide has some 65,000 unique visitors and 205,000 page views each month. We send our weekly consumer emails to 50,000 double opted-in keen spa goers, who on average go to a spa every three months. Spas who work with us are regularly showcased to a keen and ever-growing spa audience.

My role is spa business manager. I represent the company when talking to new and existing spa partners, carrying out spa audits and using my experience to offer business solutions to spas.

Could you tell us a little more about your professional background – what fuelled your interest in the spa sector?
Growing up I always wanted to do something that would make a difference to people. I thoroughly enjoyed my beauty therapy training, particularly aromatherapy when I realised the power of nature, and after college I carried out many treatments as a spa therapist which I found so rewarding.

I have worked in luxury spas across the country, most recently as spa manager at The Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel, as well as internationally including in the One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives. I have held diverse roles within the industry from spa manager to international trainer for British natural skincare brand ESPA. I know the spa industry well from a point of view of a variety of positions and am excited to bring this knowledge to The Good Spa Guide team.

When selecting a spa, how great an influence do you feel that the interior design plays for the consumer?
Since the creation of the internet a spas website is usually one of the first points of contact with a customer. An image speaks a thousand words and the interior design gives the opportunity for the picture to tell a story.

The spa market is competitive and ever evolving in the UK, the interior design is key to what makes the spa unique, memorable and somewhere guests do not want to leave.

What would you say are the three most important components of a successful spa design?
Firstly, the customer journey: it needs to be seamless, thought through and a balance of what the guest will enjoy and what will work operationally. If there isn’t enough storage or not enough sound proofing the customer will be disturbed.

Having someone involved in the design that has worked in a spa will make a massive difference. Back of house areas are equally important to making a spa run efficiently and they will know exactly what is needed from the position of the laundry room to cupboard space in the treatment rooms.

If the spa is part of a hotel the interior design should be an extension of the hotel so the two feel like one business rather than two separate entities.

Lastly, daylight and beautiful views not only make for stunning pictures to showcase the spa but add to the offering. Think about where the sun rises and sets when doing the plans for the spa, sitting in an open top hot tub watching the sun set is certainly appealing!

How would you say that spa design has changed or developed over the past decade?
I feel that spa design is focused on the area in which the spa is located, using locally-sourced materials in the construction and interior design as well as the spa design fitting with the surrounding area. Limestone in the Cotswolds, landscaped gardens in the New Forest and a feel of the ocean in Cornwall.

This should reflect the treatment menu too, signature treatments that are inspired by the local area and fitting with the design.

Please describe your ideal spa
My ideal spa would be a countryside retreat with stunning views and a peaceful setting. I love water, pools that you can actually swim in, powerful hydrotherapy jets and steam rooms.

Attentive, friendly staff and knowledgeable therapists make the spa for me. I enjoy having results-driven facials and deep tissue massages.