ISPA Showcase Finds Historic Omni Trio on Trend

NEW YORK—Ahead of its annual gathering next month at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, the International Spa Association (ISPA) got together on the East Coast, where some notable purveyors of lotions, potions, treatments and wellness concepts gave a glimpse of what’s new and trending.

Among the presenters Hotel Business caught up with on the scene was Omni Hotels & Resorts, represented by a trio of historic properties: The Homestead, Hot Springs, VA; Bedford Springs, Bedford, PA; and The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC.

“What’s new for us is actually what’s old,” said The Homestead’s Lynn Swann, director of marketing and communications. “Next year, we’ll celebrate our 250th anniversary. We joined the Omni family two years ago and, now, we’ve just finished a complete renovation of our spa, added a new waterpark area for families, a miniature golf course and a new restaurant.”

Swann said one of the most popular facilities is the Spa Garden, an adults-only space that features the resort’s legendary natural hot springs. “You can actually soak in an octagon spring that’s fed by two natural hot springs. We also have a river reflexology walk where you walk on the stones, which reach all the reflexology points on your feet. The stones are covered by about one inch of our natural spring water. We also have a naturally pressurized deluge shower in the Spa Garden,” said Swann.

Hotel collateral touts the United States Geological Survey’s findings that the springs have a high mineral content with the waters remaining at a natural body temperature all year, flowing at the rate of 1.7 million gallons per day.

Traditional treatments also are available at the Homestead Spa, and Swann said she’s seen an increase in men coming to the facility, as well as couples. The spa offers treatments for children as well, starting at age five. “We have a little family spa suite area where children can have a treatment such as a manicure, pedicure, even a mini-facial. Parents are with them in the room,” she said.

Sandra Lamey, director of spa for the 30,000-sq.-ft. Springs Eternal Spa at the Omni Bedford Springs, said the facility recently implemented a new spa-treatment menu. “We have more than 50 different services on our spa menu, such as the restorative native foot therapy treatment, which ties into our new native essence treatment, an 80-minute, full-body, poultice massage using herbs and essential oils that are infused into the poultice and massaged on the guest. We’re trying to tie in treatments that are indigenous to the area, going back to the founding of the property, which was in 1796, by Dr. John Anderson, using some of his philosophies revolving around Native Americans and the use of the springs for healing,” said Lamey.

The resort’s eight mineral springs have been touted since the property’s beginnings, and the eighth spring actually flows into the spa where, said Lamey, a lot of guests gather to benefit from the waters.

The resort recently hosted a “Be Well Weekend” that featured speakers discussing various trends ranging from heart and eye health to gluten-free diets and fall prevention.

An apiary also is in place at Omni Bedford Springs that currently is used on the F&B side. Lamey hopes to incorporate honey into the spa treatments next year “when enough honey has been cultivated.”

Like its sister properties, the Omni Grove Park Inn, where Ellen L. McGinness is spa director, has a lot of history behind it, operating in the Smoky Mountains for 102 years.

The spa itself, a project created by architect Robert LeBlond of Calgary, Canada, that sources indicate ran anywhere from $42 million to $52 million to complete, is well known for its eclectic subterranean layout and design that incorporates stone grottos, tunnels and archways.

“It’s 42,000 sq. ft. and all built with rock featuring grottos and fireplaces. Our elements are fire, rock, water and light. Everyplace you turn, there’s a waterfall, including a massive, central waterfall that comes down into a decorative pool where the water is changing colors,” said McGinness.

There are 20 water features, including mineral-based pools and contrast pools, where guests go from hot to cold to hot water. “It’s a true European experience,” McGinness noted, adding there are saunas, inhalation and eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, describing the spa’s treatments as “unique.”

“We do some energy treatments, as well as a ‘heaven’ series; treatments that are indigenous to us, such as a ‘Sanctuary of the Senses’ body treatment with facial, that uniquely includes every type of sensory experience that you can have: sound, smell, touch, etc.; a massage; full-body exfoliation; then cocooning and a bath. It’s a lovely, lovely experience,” she said.

Stefani C. O’Connor