When Tiffany Raif chooses a hotel, price is ultimately the deciding factor. But it's not the only thing the Los Angeles-based advertising executive keeps in mind. "Whenever possible, I pick a place that has a spa," she says. "Traveling is tiring, so I try to stay where I am able to squeeze in a massage. I'm much more productive when I feel good."
Raif is not alone. In response to growing demand from corporate clients, hotels are enhancing their spa offerings and gearing them toward time-pressed business travelers.
"People are more stressed out than ever and have more money to spend," says Sally Cooper, a spokeswoman for
in Scottsdale, Ariz., which fills 60% of its rooms with business travelers. "We find that they are much more willing to pay for a massage and other stress reducers, so we continue to expand our offerings to cater to their needs."
Indeed, more than three out of four business travelers surveyed in 1997 by the Florida consulting firm,
Health Fitness Dynamics
, said they chose one hotel over another because it had a spa. HFD owner Patty Monteson said spa treatments are no longer considered a luxury and are routinely accepted as an effective way to cope with stress.
The good news is, if you are a stressed-out business traveler (and who isn't?), new and expanded facilities are popping up at hotels nationwide. Many now offer early-morning and late-evening hours. At many hotels, in-room massage is an option. Many properties, including The Phoenician,
in London and the
Park Hyatt Tokyo
offer tailored road-warrior treatments like "jet-lag-repair facials" and "25-minute neck and shoulder massages."
In Manhattan, newly renovated hotels including
Sheraton New York
all boast bigger and better spa and fitness facilities. In Las Vegas, SpaClub by Canyon Ranch is tucked inside
-- a resort billing itself as Las Vegas' first real business hotel.
Several Arizona hotels are opening or expanding spa facilities in response to growing demand by the meeting and business-traveler markets. On the list of new properties featuring full-blown spas are the new
resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the recently opened
Four Seasons at Troon North
, also in Scottsdale.
"The business traveler's needs don't end at 5 p.m., and we know they need to be able to balance their financial well-being with their physical and mental well-being,'' says Lance Herman, general manager of CopperWynd Country Club, Inn & Spa. "You can't run up your blood pressure during the day, then hop on a treadmill and expect to shake off the tensions of the day. That's why all of our spa amenities are so important."
Heading to Los Angeles? The recently renovated
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
is also home to the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, pioneers of the spa and fitness trend. The hotel -- which caters to executives in entertainment and other fields -- features a fitness room and spa designed with business travelers in mind. Besides opening early and closing late, manager Nicola Evans has created a spa menu featuring jet-lag-relieving eye lifts and an express half-hour facial.
Boutique properties such as the
in Denver, the
Fifth Avenue Suites
in Portland and the
hotels in New York and various other cities, are also cashing in on the "gotta get a massage" trend by opening spa franchises on site. "We get tons of business from meeting attendees who can't resist booking a massage once they see that we are here," says Steve Libhart, owner of the Renaissance Aveda Spa located off the lobby of The Monaco. "They sneak up and say 'Can you get me in and out of here in an hour?'"
The trend has not gone unnoticed by meeting organizers, who are increasingly keeping an eye on the spa facilities when choosing a site. The
in Vail, Colo., recently dropped the fees for guest access to its 75,000-square-foot spa and fitness facility, says marketing director Andre Fournier. "It is safe to say that many of our corporate groups choose to work with us because we have such a fantastic spa on site; it's definitely a competitive selling point."
"A few years ago, a spa wasn't that important to people booking meetings," says Frank Garahan, general manager of
Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which recently opened a 20,000-square-foot spa. "Today, these same people come here, use the spa and wonder, 'and why haven't I done this before?'"
So while a massage may not be a permanent fix to the stressed-out business travelers' blues, it's definitely a great way to eliminate some of those unavoidable knots-in-the-back from too many hours in an airplane seat or a high-pressure meeting with the boss. Now if only you could convince the boss to book a treatment as well!
Stacy H. Small is the senior West Coast editor for Travel Agent magazine. She is also a freelance writer for publications including Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic Traveler. At time of publication, Small held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Small cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, she welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.