What are US spas doing to combat Covid-19? I reached out to regional spa and wellness leaders to find out.
Professor Mary Tabacchi, Co-founder, New York Spa Association (NYSPA)
The first line of defense is to keep our immune systems strong: (1) good nutrition and healthy microbiome; (2) Optimistic outlook; (3) meditation; (4) elbow bumps or bows or Buddha greetings instead of shaking hands, and (5) smiles and kindness or generosity.
There are close connections between therapists and the spa guest, which could easily spread the virus. Steam rooms, shared whirlpools, lap pools have damp surfaces where Covid-19 may grow. And around the pools, the virus may be near the edge where guests sit. Changing rooms may have had damp towels where COV- 19 could exist. From a PR standpoint, no business can survive a reputation that suggests ineffective cleaning. Attendants and therapists must be trained diligently to constantly stay alert to the Covid-19 virus.
“Our best practices, training, and education are the best defense and a powerful offense when overcoming challenges.”— Jeff Wescott
Rachel Hogancamp, NYSPA Treasurer & Managing Partner, Rasa Spa
At Rasa Spa, we’ve equipped our staff with language to assure any client who asks that we are continuing to practice excellent universal precautions—as we always have. We’ve put out a few extra hand sanitizer bottles throughout the spa and added tea-tree essential oil to our hand soap bottles in staff spaces. For cleaning purposes, we are using essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and lemon to our natural cleaning products. We don’t want to overreact, but also want to operate in a safe and effective manner and not dismiss our clients’ concerns.
Yael Alkalay, NYSPA Board, and Founder of Red Flower
Red Flower offers Blood Orange Refreshing Hand and Face Towelettes which are alcohol-free and contain ingredients that are shown to be a more effective antibacterial, so we are offering these to all our customers and guests for pre- and post-treatment.
Ilana Moses, Founder, Florida Spa Association
It’s easy to get caught up in the misinformation of this global health crisis, but critical to understand facts versus fiction. It’s important to stay proactive about our health, maintaining a robust immune system and taking hygienic precautions during flu season and the COVID-19 outbreak. As a Wellness Ambassador, the FSA recommends encouraging family, friends, and colleagues to pay attention to self-care through a nutritional diet, exercise, hydration, adequate sleep, and to resist unhealthy habits such as smoking, fast food, etc.—the very things that we have learned to embrace as Wellness Advocates, so that we can avoid business and social life disruptions.
Jennifer Lynn, Board Chairperson, Las Vegas Spa Association & Senior Director of Spa, Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
By nature and regulation, Las Vegas spa and the treatment providers have been educated and trained to sanitize and disinfect their work areas, and we are maintaining the state-enforced cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting codes with extreme diligence.
For Waldorf Astoria Spa Las Vegas in particular, I see this as an opportunity to reach the local market with preventive education using natural remedies. We are currently putting our Wellness series together which includes Immunity boosting Aromatherapy Workshops, Herbal Remedies Classes for immune-promoting teas, and learning how to make natural hand sanitizers. We are also working on yoga and meditation classes that lean towards building stronger minds and bodies during difficult times. Our spa has a wealth of Health and Wellness experts to share this knowledge. Since people are reducing or refraining from travel at this time, our Las Vegas locals will have a chance to visit our spa to be proactive in the quest for health and immunity boosting!
Jeff Wescott, Board Member, Las Vegas Spa Association & Director of Spa/Salon Operations, Golden Nugget Las Vegas
We employ State Licensed and State and Federally regulated professionals, some with decades of experience, who at the very core of their training learn effective practices for identification and mitigation of infectious and communicable diseases in social settings. With the heightened attention through the media, even our professionals need to be reminded that their training and knowledge separates them from the average consumer, and that their knowledge, training, and guidance is needed during just these kinds of events. Our best practices, training, and education are the best defense and a powerful offense when overcoming challenges.
Mia Mackman, Founder, Arizona Spa & Wellness Association
It is more important than ever for people to improve and embrace their immune system’s health. This also pertains to mental and physical stress, as well as to emotional fear. The spa industry has an excellent opportunity to elevate guest experiences, and to inspire consumer confidence and wellbeing through this turbulent time. Our goal is to provide relaxing atmospheres that supports the important message, “We care, you matter.”
Darryl Leiman, Co-founder, Hawaii Spa Association & Regional Vice President, Mandara Spas
Like everyone else, we are watching and monitoring. Making sure Mandara Spa remains an island of tranquility in this sea of uncertainty. Revisiting our procedures to make sure we remain focused on our goal of taking care of the welfare of our guests and team members.
Jim Croghan, Co-founder, iConnection, Southern California
We have been reminding our teams of the ongoing spread of coronavirus and informing members about very simple and obvious things to stay safe. We just sent out the following notice last week:
We would like to emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene by all colleagues:
• Please clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
• Perform routine environmental cleaning—routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents, which we have upgraded to hospital-grade disinfectants.
Christine Mathes, Founder, Northeast Spa Association
The spas in New England are very pro-active and sharing information with their staff and guests on Covid-19. For example, Bella Sante Spas in the Boston area are following these preemptive actions:
• Encouraging staff to stay home if they are ill.
• Providing sanitation stations throughout all three locations to staff and guests visiting the spa.
• Use of nitro gloves with all services.
• Using alcohol and CaviCide wipes on all equipment for sanitation purposes.
• Sending a newsletter to all staff members on reminders of how to stay well and keep from transmitting germs (links to the CDC).
• No cancellation fee if clients cancel last minute because of Illness.
Actions From Our National Spa Leadership
Susie Ellis, Chair & CEO of the Global Wellness Institute
We are pleased to announce that the GWI has launched PositivelyWell, a new online resource to positively address COVID-19. (For example, you will find medical studies about how optimism impacts health in a new Wellness Evidence modality.) They will be expanding this wellness platform over the days and weeks ahead.
Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States & GWI Board Member
Your body’s first line of defense against any infectious disease is your immune system; maintaining and enhancing your immune system begins with actions you take to optimize your nutrition, exercise, sleep, social connections, and mental health.
Lynne McNees, President, International Spa Association
Ensuring the safety of spa professionals and spa-goers is the highest priority of ISPA. Therefore, ISPA is dedicated to providing the spa industry with the most up-to-date resources and guidelines from the CDC and World Health Organization on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Because we are a data-driven association, we have also initiated two new research efforts focusing on COVID-19 and emergency planning. The first is focused on the consumer and is being conducted in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, while the second will be an ISPA Snapshot Survey that addresses what the spa industry is experiencing and implementing to address COVID-19.
Bonnie Baker, President, Green Spa Planet
Our expertise is not in the field of virus or epidemic control, so we prefer to continue to share the message that Self Care is Earth Care, and vice versa. We will be proceeding with our Buyers conference in May at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe at this point . . . We are preparing optimistically for the event, hoping that by then the panorama will be different and contained.
If you would like to share what steps, practices, or products your spa has incorporated in response to the coronavirus, email me at Mary@insidersguidetospas.com.