The Scarlet Huntington Creates Spa Suite Retreat

SAN FRANCISCO—Mixing business with pleasure is just one of the advantages for those booking space at The Scarlet Huntington hotel’s newly renovated Spa Suite, at least for guests who consider relaxing in a luxurious environment among life’s nicer aspects.

“The main idea behind it is to be another sort of a function room for our groups that we host here at the Nob Hill Spa,” said Spa Director Ania Mankowska-Allard. “It also serves as a treatment room on our busy days, and as a treatment room for any of our guests who do not wish to be at our spa downstairs—those who want a more exclusive time and to be away from everybody else.”

The original spa suite was closed along with the 134-room hotel when the red-brick-facaded property, owned and managed by Singapore-based hospitality group Grace International, underwent a renovation in 2014. As part of that process, the decision was made to change the existing spa suite on the fifth floor into a guestroom and a guestroom on the third floor into the new spa suite.

The change-out was not capital-intensive, according to the spa director. “We just took away the items we don’t need to perform massages. We took away the bed and some of the furniture, and put in the two massage tables we had from the previous suite,” she said, noting hydraulic massage tables can cost upwards of $1,400. “In the living room part, we basically needed to have a dining room table that could [fit]a group of 10 to 12 people. And, that’s basically it. It was a very easy transformation from guestroom to spa suite.”

The newly opened spa suite includes the main suite space for meeting or socializing, and a separate treatment room for spa services. A bathroom includes a rain shower, a vanity mirror and a double sink.

Mankowska-Allard said, thus far, corporate groups have been the number-one users of the spa suite, often for a variety of reasons. For example, some buy out the spa and the spa suite to use as a “thank you” or incentive for invited clients to spend more money with their company. “We had one of the high-tech companies, a group of 10 of their employees reached a goal, so the company sponsored a spa day for them. We have bachelorette groups and, more recently, we’ve been having bachelor groups, which are great. We also have baby showers and birthday celebrations,” said the director, who noted that 15 is the maximum number of guests that can occupy the spa suite at one time.

Meals can be provided and are catered by The Scarlet Huntington’s Big 4 Restaurant in the meeting room, either buffet-style or à la carte.

Mankowska-Allard said there are options for those uncomfortable with being in spa attire—i.e., a robe and slippers—around business colleagues. “Let’s say there’s a group of 10 people, and they’re having a brunch. Room service delivers their food, they get their goodie bags. When done, the majority go downstairs to have their treatments, and one person [or a couple]can stay behind and get a treatment in the spa suite treatment room. For any issues of privacy, there are lockers in there as well,” said the director, adding, “If it’s a corporate group, obviously you’re not comfortable changing next to each other. And, if you’re hosting an important client, you don’t necessarily want to be getting undressed next to him or her.  So, then we just have them use the locker facilities downstairs and escort them upstairs for the dining and entertainment part of their day.”

That said, Mankowska-Allard noted sensitivities vary. “We do have a lot of corporate groups that are more casual. Being in San Francisco, there’re a lot of business environments here that are more casual than other cities. There’re a lot of high-tech companies that entertain their clients or their coworkers, and they are usually not that shy changing next to each other and they will just change in the spa suite and have their food and beverage,” she said.

The director noted for services, such as manicures for a bridal party, arrangements could be made for a group to have those services together in the spa suite. “Whatever the group demands, we’re trying to accommodate,” said Mankowska-Allard.

In addition, the spa suite is frequented by VIP clients who do not want to go to the regular spa for treatments. “They don’t want to be downstairs; they don’t want anyone to see them. So, it’s a great facility for us to have to provide them with great services, and nobody needs to know that they are here,” she said.

Guests in the spa suite may access the actual spa via a dedicated elevator, thus avoiding traveling through public spaces in a robe. “So you have full access to the spa facilities when you’re having treatment or hosting an event in the spa suite,” said Mankowska-Allard.

The director said about 80% of the clients who come to the hotel’s spa are local. “So that’s usually who would be interested in the spa suite. The majority of the business has been our regulars; our companies that we work with.”

The spa suite is available daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. “To be honest, I wish we had two or three more of them because the demand is quite high, and it’s also just a great additional room to do treatments when we’re really busy. It’s a great satellite room to have to add to more revenue for the spa itself,” said Mankowska-Allard.

Stefani C. O’Connor