New facilities offer a truly indulgent experience for guests on an international scale at the reinvigorated and rebranded, Darling Spa. Ashleigh Sharman discovers.
Previously The Spa at the Darling, The Darling Spa joins the realm of world-class spas with the addition of a steam room, salt water Jacuzzi and fitness facility, Darling Gym — delivering luxury, pampering and indulgent experiences to guests who truly expect nothing less, says The Darling Spa manager Catherine Lazarou who sought to implement the changes from the moment she arrived in the job some 18 months ago.
“Things changed the day I arrived. I saw the potential in the business itself and in the space that we have here which includes the whole second level of the hotel.
“It immediately appeared to me we could offer better facilities and better meet expectations for our international travellers, especially those who expect a steam room or wet facility that can be used as part of their hotel or spa stay.
“If that’s already an expectation, and we don’t have it to offer, it didn’t make sense not to do it,” explains Catherine whose career within international spas and hotels has fuelled her understanding of what guests want upon reaching their destination.
Designed by Sydney architects Cox Richardson in conjunction with interior designers DBI Design and Stack Studio, The Darling Spa new additions and revised treatment menu deliver five-star facilities in a resort-style environment — all moments from Sydney’s CBD.
The mosaic aromatherapy heated steam room with salt water Jacuzzi enhances the spa’s 13 treatment rooms, including two couple’s treatment rooms and a Hammam chamber with heated marble bed.
And guests can now sustain their fitness regime when staying at the hotel or visiting The Darling Spa with a gym that includes two treadmills, a cross trainer, one upright bike, a Kenesis wall (the first to be set up in a hotel gym in Sydney) and yoga mats, with personal training sessions also available.
“We consistently need to enhance our guests’ experience. Everything needs to be at the guests’ fingertips — it’s about a sense of private luxury and is at the core of spa’s philosophy,” Catherine says.
Great facilities are one thing but a great treatment menu is another and with 14 suppliers and 37 treatments on offer, something didn’t make sense to Catherine who diligently went through the data of what was selling, what wasn’t selling and why — also researching other hotels and spa treatments in Sydney.
“We appeared to be offering a lot to our guests, according to the treatment menu, but in many ways it was still limiting. People were confused and they didn’t know what they wanted, or what the difference was between so many treatments, and therefore booked off price rather than experience.”
Continuing the successful partnership with La Prairie, their facial treatments and retail lines, Catherine sought after an international range for body oils, scrubs and massage treatments, deciding on ESPA for its local exclusivity and international training.
“Our business has increased 330 per cent since they have been on board, and that’s just within the first couple of months! ESPA offer us great support and great training so it’s a no-brainer for me,” says Catherine who comments many international guests, already familiar with the brand, pre-order product before their arrival.
And it appears The Darling Spa is onto a winning business formula, performing over 1000 treatments a months with a team of 17 therapists, three spa attendants and four spa receptionists, all offering seamless service.
“What we offer is the very best of everything, from hotel amenities, to cuisine, to Champagne. Our guests don’t expect anything less. They continually push us to push our own boundaries to how we define luxury and what it means to them personally,” Catherine says, adding 2016 will see the launch of an exclusive spa membership program, for local, Sydney-based clientele.
“Luxury speaks its own universal language, so whatever language our guest speaks we know we speak it here.”