Consulting Best Practices Initiative Resources

Spa & Leisure Consultants provide a wide array of services to real estate developers, hotel and resort owners and operators, and owners and operators of existing spas. For spas in development, these services may include market analysis, financial feasibility and proforma projections, concept development and project planning, and coordination with architects, designers, advertising firms, and in-house marketing, sales and development teams. Spa consultants also create or assist with the development of brand standards, standard operational procedures, staff recruitment, training and compensation, product and spa and fitness equipment selection and procurement, for both new and existing spa and leisure businesses.

It is important to understand that spa management consultants have a tremendous variation in experience. An experienced Spa Consultant should have first-hand hand operational experience and have a detailed understanding of how to operate a successful business. Understanding the specific needs of a consulting engagement will enable a good match between a prospective consultant and a particular project. For example, a Spa Consultant with a therapy background may have a specialty in menu development and staff training but may not be the ideal person to provide a feasibility study. A professional consultant will explain their areas of expertise and will suggest alternatives to the client if needed.

Consulting Best Practices Initiative 2017 Briefing Paper

The briefing paper is a snapshot of this industry sector including valuable information on latest trends, challenges and initiative accomplishments. Read full paper HERE

Guidelines to the Consultant Selection Process

The key to success is finding the right match for you and your project: selecting a consultant who meets the criteria of
your project’s needs, can fulfill deliverables according to your timeline, has impeccable client references, and the “right
fit” or chemistry with key management or stakeholders.

1)      Frame the Situation

  • With your management team, specify your needs and goals.
  • For an existing business, avoid self-diagnosis of any issues.
  • How will you determine if the consulting engagement has been successful?
  • Explain your knowledge of the spa segment of the business.  A good consultant will be able to direct you based on your
    specific experience, and the experience of your team.
  • Be able to clearly explain your business vision, needs, and goals to the prospective consultant

2)      The Selection Process

  • Be prepared to do your research to find a consultant that has relevant knowledge and
  • experience required for the specific needs of your project; do you need a consultant with general knowledge, or expertise
    in a specific area?
  • Have a list of pertinent, standardized interview questions to ask in your interviews with consultants, much as you would
    in hiring a management level staff member
  • Be aware that spa consultants have varying levels of experience, including some who have “hung out a shingle” without any
    experience in developing, operating or managing a spa
  • Be aware that spa consultants may specialize and excel in different aspects of the development,
  • operations or management process (Finance; Design & Planning; Operations Development; Customer Service; Menu Development;
    Training; etc.). Ask questions to probe around the areas of expertise of any candidates.
  • Request a list of client references and perform the necessary due diligence
  • After you have interviewed several candidates, evaluate them based on:
    • Competence and experience to complete the work
    • Cultural compatibility with your existing team
    • Demonstrated understanding of your needs and expectations
    • Proof of Professional Liability Insurance
    • Willingness to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement)
    • Previous Client References
    • Willingness to share “in the trenches” stories, both good and bad (and keeping confidentiality of course)

Typical Financial Arrangements

Many professional spa consultants price their services on a “project basis” based on a detailed scope of work with clearly defined deliverables, rather than charging by the hour.  Some consultants are also available by the hour for smaller or more specific engagements.  The scope of work is often broken out into phases in the case of longer, more involved engagements.  An advance retainer is typically required for the consultant to commence work, and payment becomes due for each phase as the work is completed.  You should receive a written proposal or agreement detailing scope of work tasks and associated work deliverables for each phase.  Travel, accommodations, and miscellaneous expenses such as copying, binding, and phone calls are the main reimbursable expenses which are not typically included in consulting fees. Some consulting firms charge a small percentage for administrative fees and travel time, at a fraction of their hourly rates.

As with many consumer goods and services, the highest price doesn’t always ensure the best quality, nor does a low price necessarily indicate inferior capabilities.  It is never wise to make a choice based upon price alone.  When comparing consultant’s proposals, do make sure that you are comparing “apples to apples” in terms of knowledge, expertise and scope of work.  Synergy also plays a role in the selection process.  Clients should make sure that their chosen consultant understands ownership goals, and when working on a larger design team can play the role of an advocate.  This is especially true when budgets, design and equipment are considered.  There is no set format for proposals and consultants may offer a range of services with varying amounts of detail included in the work.

Common Areas of Practice for Spa Consultants

Pre-Opening Activities

Market Analysis, Site Analysis & Financial Feasibility
Concept Development & Programming
Financial Forecasts & Proforma
Architecture & Interior Design Review & Value Engineering
Equipment, Supplies & Operations Specifications & Procurement
Creation of Spa Menu & Programming Options & Pricing
Retail Product Development, Procurement & Merchandising
Compensation Strategies & Policies
Staff Recruitment, Auditions & Hiring
Sales & Customer Service Training
Technical Training for Therapy Staff
Employee Handbooks & Operations Manuals
Formulation of Pre-opening Plan
Onsite Assistance Pre-Opening

Ongoing Activities

Operational Assessments of Staff, Facility, Customer Service & Financial Performance
HR Process Review
Business Process Analysis, including Inventory Management
Compensation Plan Review
Sales & Marketing Performance Analysis, including Website & Collaterals
Motivational, Customer Service & Staff Training & Development
Retail Performance Review, Vendor & Pricing Analysis
Quality Management System Review

How Do I Know If I Need a Consultant?

Each project and company has its own set of needs, challenges, goals and available resources. Common situations which
warrants hiring a spa consultant include:

  • Your company lacks the specific knowledge and skills required to make informed decisions and solve problems
  • Current and previous efforts to have not produced the desired results
  • Your company continues to face the same set of issues and/or challenges to growth and success, without gaining any ground
  • Your company lacks the time or staff resources to dedicate to the project or challenge
  • An independent opinion is needed to either confirm a decision or to provide alternatives

Some of the Common Pitfalls Spa Owners and Developers Fail into Include:

  • Not performing adequate research and market feasibility to guide the development process and the financial commitment
  • Assuming that the architect or designer are fully capable and qualified to develop an operationally workable and market-appropriate spa design and business model
  • Relying on a person who has familiarity with only a handful of spa facilities or concepts, but lacks a sufficient base of
    knowledge from which to develop a spa on their own, without actual operational or development experience
  • Ill-conceived and unrealistic financial projections
  • Hiring a spa consultant after initial plans have been developed & submitted to planning authorities
  • Hiring a spa consultant that does not disclose kickbacks from recommended equipment or products

When a company decides to build a new spa, or to renovate or optimize operations in an existing one, it is important to utilize
expert development resources to ensure the best result. It’s far easier and ultimately faster to engage a spa consultant
with the necessary experience, tools, and ability than to follow a shoestring approach which ultimately may jeopardize the
success of the entire project through serious errors made in critical planning areas.

Global Spa & Wellness Consultants Infographic

The Consulting Initiative has released the first-ever spa/wellness/fitness consultancy survey results data in the form of an infographic. More than 60 spa and wellness industry consultants were interviewed for the survey, working on behalf of real estate developers, hotel and resort owners/operators, and spa owner/operators. The resulting data findings help to define the scope of the sector.

Some key findings include:

  • More than half of project engagements had an average cost of more than US$1.5m
  • The largest portion of new spa/wellness projects take between 12-18 months to be completed
  • The benefits of utilizing a consultant include decreased operational costs; cost savings in design, procurement and training; and expenses outweighed by increased speed to profitability.


Consulting Best Practices Initiative Collaboration
Spa & Wellness Concepts in a Post-COVID World

Spa and wellness facility design was already evolving pre-COVID. In this collaboration, the Global Wellness Institute Consulting Best Practices Initiative presented experts in the field to discuss what architecture and design concepts we may expect to see in the near future. The Collaboration was moderated by Initiative Chair and Consultant for Wynne Business Lisa Starr and the Consulting Task Force.

Speakers included:
Envisioning the Built Environment: Alberto Apostoli, Architect & Spa Designer; Kay Sargent, Senior Principal, HOK
Wellness Programming & Creative Design: Paulina Moran, Interior Designer; Rene Pier, Interior Architect, Schienbein+Pier GbR

Slideshow to Spa & Wellness Designs


Consulting Best Practices Initiative
List of Consultants

Welcome to our list of consultants! This list is growing all the time, and it now has over 140 participants from all over the globe. You can find the complete selection of spa and wellness consultants listed alphabetically by clicking on the green box below. However, we’ve offered a few other options to help you sort through and find a consultant who works in a particular region, language or type. These subsets only list consultants who have responded to a survey. If you need any further help finding what you are looking for, or if you are a full-time spa and wellness consultant who would like to be considered to be added to this list, please fill out this form.

The Global Wellness Institute serves as an umbrella organization for numerous Initiatives, that are independently chaired and run. The resources, editorial, research and opinions presented by the Initiatives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Global Wellness Institute.