Want to know what the spa of the future looks like? The Global Spa & Wellness Summit, which recently wrapped up in Aspen, Colorado, has an annual contest where university students submit their vision for an innovative spa of the future.
Defiant! brought the crowd of executives to their feet in a standing ovation, and I like it, too. Submitted by a team from The University of Denver, Defiant! rejects the "cutesy, bubble-gum" vibe of the teen services offered at 30% of U.S. spas. "Today's independent, stressed-out, body-conscious teen girls" need help to become mentally and physically confident.
A Teen Spa With Attitude
Defiant! was conceived as a teen spa for Orange County, which has a trendy and healthy lifestyle, a high household income, and 151,000 girls aged twelve to 18. It would be marketed as a routine need instead of a luxury "indulgence, empowering young women against the challenge of media stereotypes, disordered eating, obesity and lack of physical activities.
It's a girl's "Fourth Place" (after home, school, and the mall), where she would receive support from a young, all-female staff while learning self-care and self-acceptance.
Meet typical customer, Allie, age 12. She's a bit of a jockette, but still girly. Allie loves Facebook. She has some acne and poor eating habits. She fights with her parents. Defiant! helps Allie with exercise classes, nutritional and behavioral coaching, regular facials and skin care products, and a sports massage before or after her big soccer game.
A Day At Defiant!
Here's what a day at Defiant! would look like. After swiping their D-Life cards at Debut, the reception desk where parental consent forms are on file, girls enter a fun, high-tech, social place. They can hang out in Daydream, the pillow-and iPad-packed central lounge where they order from the healthy café, Devour.
Hip-hop dance, punk aerobics and meditation are on offer in Define, the fitness studio, and the locker room is called Deposit. Spa treatments are given at Defuse, designed with sound-proof pocket doors between rooms so girls can be with their friendsor alone, as they choose. Defuse specializes in shorter, affordable treatments, and all the doors can be opened up for parties.
The Debauchery Den has Dirty Girl mudbaths and a Drip-Drop rain shower. The sauna is called Detox. In Devotion, teens meet privately with staff for help with issues they face. They get manis, pedis, and hair services in the Dashing salon.
The Smart Spa
Enrichment programming, like motivational speeches from female CEOs and advice on dealing with mean girls, is available at the Defiant! website and app, as well as throughout the spa. Smart technology abounds, with rewards and foursquare check-ins. Parents can confirm online their daughter safely arrived at the spa.
Smart marketing strategies include guerilla marketing like local flash mob and creative outdoor advertising, social media, establishing relationships with local schools and community centers, and party packages. Different levels of monthly memberships range from $45 to $180 monthly. They include a set number of treatments, anywhere from one to three day passes and always one day pass for a friend (also known as a potential customer).
The creators said that teens are an under-tapped market with "recession-proof spending." (Does this mean their parents are rich?) The competition, they said, is traditional spas and salons, the mall and movies, and computers.
Would Defiant! Work?
I'm not sure about the name. Your teen-age years are all about separating from your parents and bonding with friends, and Defiant! appeals to the that. But isn't "Allie" trying to get over fighting with her parents? And aren't they the ones paying for all this?
Defiant! is also heavy on amenities. Would the salon, spa, exercise studio, and consultations be enough to make it profitable? The Defiant! Powerpoint Presentation has sample cash flow projections that say it would. In any event, it's a fresh, interesting take on the spa experience, and it's worth a look.
The winning concept was submitted by students Lian Duan, Molly Tompkins, and Jing Wan from The University of Denver. The Faculty Advisor is Dr. Cherri Young. The partner architect is Cameron Zentz, Director, HBA Architects.
Photo courtesy of The University of Denver