Ahhhh, This Is Livin’

By Robert McGarvey

Kick back, slide in, relax and let those tired selling muscles melt into the warm, wet, steamy seduction of a spa getaway. And yes, it could be your next incentive-travel award. These days, no self-respecting resort goes without one.

“You cannot position yourself as a major incentive-travel hotel if you don’t have a spa,” says Stan Hershenow, director of incentive sales for La Quinta Resort outside Palm Springs. “We are in the midst of a spa craze. It’s no longer enough just to offer golf. Now spa is as big an activity.”

It’s no secret: Every major resort either has had a spa or has recently opened one or is in the process of building one. Why? Experts say that a key factor fueling the spa crazy is that Baby Boomers, now crossing the 50-years-of-age mark, are hungrily in search of ways to revive and rejuvenate their tired bodies. It used to be, a resort that provided sun, golf, bars and restaurants that served up thick steaks had exactly the winning formula, but Boomers nowadays are drinking as much bubbly water as they are beer, are just as likely to eat salmon as steak, and are on the prowl for ways to feel younger, fresher and stronger. Another factor, especially with incentive groups: Many more women are showing up among the winners and, while plenty of women play golf, most usually want other activities, too.

Spas are just the ticket. “Our spa has proven incredibly popular,” says Hershenow, and at La Quinta, the spa is a sprawling 23,000-square-foot complex complete with two steam rooms, eight private whirlpool baths and 19 massage therapy rooms. And meeting planners want to know these details: “I regularly field questions as much about our spa as about our golf,” says Hershenow, whose resort offers three golf courses that make Golf Magazine’s top 100.

Hershenow adds, “Certainly we see many women in the spa, but there are more men using it, too. We are also seeing people who are younger than you might expect. The facility’s popularity is powerful and that’s why I say you absolutely need a spa today. Without one, you no longer can compete as a first-class resort hotel.”