EL SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—In the creation of the Well & Being Spa concept—an outpost recently opened here at the 388-room El San Juan Hotel—it appears that two heads are better than one. When the mind of a spa entrepreneur combines with that of a leader in integrative medicine, the results are far from cookie-cutter and, rather, more holistic in nature.
A conversation between David Stoup, chairman of Trilogy Spa Holdings—the company that developed and manages the Well & Being Spa properties—and Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, who serves as the spa concept’s chief medical officer, raised a question, and they soon came up with an answer that would turn the spa business on its head. Specifically, the two discussed healthcare in Europe—how hospitals there are not so institutionalized in terms of wellness, feeling instead like a comfortable hotel. This raised the question—why don’t resorts offer more of this component to guests? The two combined their decades of experience in health and wellness to make this idea a reality.
Well & Being Spa launched in 2012, and it is available at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, AZ; Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, TX; and Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. Puerto Rico is the brand’s fourth location, and there are plans to expand the portfolio.
A tranquil beachside retreat had always been on the wish list for Trilogy Spa Holdings, and an opportunity arose for a property here. The El San Juan Hotel is part of Curio – A Collection by Hilton and earlier this year, completed a property-wide, multimillion-dollar renovation.
“The Well & Being concept in El San Juan is truly superb. The fitness center is a stand-alone facility separate from the main hotel, showcasing an open-air rooftop sky lab where you can workout and participate in fitness classes, all while overlooking the ocean and beach. It’s an amazing opportunity to take fitness outdoors. It’s different and unique,” said Stoup.
Wellness resorts are not new. Canyon Ranch and Miraval Resort & Spa have led the way in terms of a deep dive into healthy eating, personalized fitness and mindfulness in scenic locales. However, Well & Being Spa aims to offer an alternative for those who simply don’t have the time or don’t wish to commit to a full week or two to a wellness resort program.
“Places like a Canyon Ranch and Miraval, you have to immerse yourself in the wellness experience. What about making it more playful, fun and educational? There are people who may not want to be immersed or don’t have the time for a six-day program—there’s a space for that,” said Erin Stremcha, director of marketing at Trilogy Spa Holdings. “What about people already on vacation but not completely in tune on a resort-type level? That’s how this idea came to fruition.”
A stay, however long or short, at Well & Being Spa is designed to leave guests with valuable takeaways to improve their lives once they return to the day-to-day hustle. Think of it as a souvenir of sorts, but with the potential for lasting change.
“Whether they’re visiting our locations in Scottsdale, Dallas or here… Let’s say they try acupuncture and see that it has really helped them, maybe they’ll go home and try it. Or aerial yoga is something they do when they return home because they tried it at one of our resorts. Our goal is for guests to remember that experience they had, take it home and apply it to their life,” Stremcha said. “We’re all moving a million miles an hour and it’s the very simple things… maybe there’s a color and you look at it to help you remember to relax. Take a minute to breathe or meditate. It’s something we want our guests to experience.”
For guests taking in the sun, sand and surf, the spa’s Apres Sun Treatment is a hydrating after-sun treatment infused with algae and sea moss—elements inspired by and sourced from the ocean to soothe parched skin. A topical mask made of aloe and lime is also designed to be hydrating for the body. The menu was designed with the environment in mind. What guests are doing throughout the day—which almost certainly includes spending time in the sun, for which the body will need healing—plays an important role.
While spa treatments are often seen as strictly the domain of women, men are encouraged to take a break and sample the curated services as well. At Well & Being Spa, the guys are welcome. In fact, the brand strives to make the spa services inclusive to attract everyone.
“We’re always thinking about how to get the guys in the spas. Most men gravitate toward fitness, so we tailor it as a spa experience that is not just for women,” Stremcha said. For instance, the spa offers facials customized for men who shave or may have skin concerns, and deep tissue massage treatments.tremcha reported that the spa has seen an uptick in men booking the services, simply because it’s called out that these services are for men. “The products used on their skin are no different than for women. Instead of champagne, why not a beer? We let them relax,” she said.
Understanding everyone’s journey is different, guests are encouraged to take bits and pieces of the wellness experience as they see fit. “We support whatever piece they want to customize. If you want to have a steak and enjoy wine, that’s wellness too,” she said. “We want to infuse the healthier side of things and we see the need for balance.”
Whatever hotels do, wellness offerings just make sense. “Travelers are moving in that direction in their everyday lives,” said Stoup. “It’s not just a trend. People are embracing fitness, health and vitality.” HB