The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd

Ask the experts

Satellite sites

What could be better for the spa user than an annual week-long retreat topped up with regular visits to a local day spa to keep health goals on track? A burgeoning trend suggests this option is coming down the tracks. Kath Hudson reports


Destination spas are fantastic for a 360 overhaul, but the majority of guests visit once a year, which will never have as much impact on people’s health as year-round support.

In response, a growing number of operators are kickstarting rollout plans for satellite centres, usually in urban locations where they can connect with their clients all year round. An extension of the brand, these more accessible sites have pared down offerings of the flagships, but with the same ethos, level of service and access to expertise.

Operators who’ve already launched satellite sites say they’re great as feeders for the main property and vice versa. Around 10 to 20 per cent of clients use both and this figure will likely grow as locations increase.

It sounds an attractive proposition for operators to go down this road, but it’s not without challenges as it involves heavy investment and locations are sought with exacting criteria meaning they’re not easy to find.

If this becomes a widespread trend, it could mean the democratisation of spas, with more people who can’t travel to the main locations being able to access expertise, treatments and health technologies in their cities. Will we see more operators following this course of action? We ask the experts...

Simone Gibertoni
CEO, Clinique La Prairie
Photo: Clinique La Prairie

Creating smaller sites around the world is absolutely part of our strategy and we have two concepts we’re rolling out.

Longevity Hubs have been designed to offer a first access to our approach in city locations, so clients can regularly engage with experts to build healthy routines. The offer is focused on longevity, wellbeing and aesthetics, and services include health assessments, cryotherapy, far-infrared light, nutraceuticals, IV drips and brain stimulation.

We now have Longevity Hubs open in Madrid, Bangkok and Doha and the long-term goal is to reach about 40 in major cities worldwide.

Health Resorts will bridge the gap between Longevity Hubs and our flagship site in Switzerland. Set in stunning locations, they will offer week-long bespoke longevity and detox programmes combining preventative medicine and genetics/epigenetics, with wellbeing, lifestyle and nutrition plans.

Our first resort opens in Anji, China, in 2024 and two more will follow in the Middle East and the USA by 2028. There will be no more than 10 of these with a maximum of 50 rooms each – which is a big challenge considering the investment required. But we can’t replicate our ultra-personalised Swiss service if we go any larger.

The difficulty with expansion is retaining the highest degree of exclusivity and premium service as we grow. It’s an ambitious, but essential, balance.

All our projects will also contribute to what is at the heart of our company vision – to be at the forefront of innovation, with a commitment to source and develop the best technologies in the field of longevity.

The long-term objective is to reach about 40 Longevity Hubs in major cities around the world
Clinique La Prairie’s flagship spa is in Switzerland / Photo: Clinique La Prairie
John T G Nielsen
General manager, Fivelements Retreat
Photo: Fivelements

If we can locate a good business partner and the numbers stack up, then satellite sites are a great way of growing the Fivelements footprint. Since being acquired by Evolution Wellness, Asia’s largest fitness network, we can tap into its knowledge and experience so the brand extension is less of a risk for the operator, developers and investors. On the downside, any stand-alone venue requires a large upfront sum and regular ongoing expenses, which impacts ROI.

We tried this with the Fivelements Habitat in Hong Kong, where we created a club-style membership environment based on our flagship destination in Bali. Although it was showing many positive signs, the Hong Kong unrest, riots and COVID-19, meant the club never had the chance to reach its potential.

While we’re still exploring various models where the Habitat concept can be incorporated into projects, we’re also looking to form other partnerships. In April, for example, we’ll be launching and managing a branded wellness centre at the five-star Marianna Resort in Lake Toba, Indonesia. We’re open to having an equity stake in assets like this in the future, but these agreements tend to be slightly more challenging to complete. Lease options are also an opportunity, but again the landlord must be seen as a good partner to ensure future financial success.

Our flagship retreat has a unique location on the sacred Ayung River, which offers a complete immersion in nature and a permaculture garden where we harvest raw materials for our treatments. Fivelements Wellness Lake Toba will offer a similarly spectacular location, on the shores of the world’s largest volcanic lake. The land is rich, producing Sumatra coffee, kaffir lime, garlic and other wonderful produce which we can incorporate into the treatments.

Another big appeal of this partnership is the exposure and future opportunities that come with being part of a new five-star hotel.

Satellite sites are a great way of growing the Fivelements footprint if the numbers stack up
Nils Behrens
Chief marketing officer, Lanserhof
Photo: Luke Andrew Walker

To get the full Lanserhof experience you need to stay for 10 days, this gives the gut a break and the mental system can also rest. You can do this at our destination retreats – two in Germany and one in Austria. As most of our guests come just once a year, however, we wanted to create an outpatient experience, where people could come for the day, get some of the benefits and keep themselves on track. We see smaller sites as a companion for the whole journey, allowing us to remain in constant contact with clients.

We chose Hamburg for our first site because it’s where many of our clients live. London at the Arts Club in Mayfair was our second site because the second highest number of our clients come from the UK and most of them are from London.

Smaller sites will be part of our ongoing business strategy and we’re constantly evaluating locations. It’s difficult to find the right site as we need to have a city of a minimum size and suitable infrastructure. Also, it’s more complicated to develop medical centres than a regular wellness and hospitality offering, since regulations and health services vary between countries. As a result, we can’t just create the perfect blueprint to roll out.

Smaller urban sites are much quicker to develop than a retreat, but we’re still learning what the ideal offering is. Hamburg started out as a preventative model and is moving towards a more acute one. London started out as acute and is moving more towards preventative, performance and longevity.

Fifteen per cent of our retreat clients use our urban sites and the two concepts complement each other, creating markets for the other. Most of our clients in London became members first, then visited the retreat afterwards.

It’s difficult to find the right site as we need to have a city of a minimum size with suitable infrastructure
Lanserhof’s two concepts create markets for each other / Photo: Lanserhof Sylt
Anna Bjurstam
Wellness pioneer, Six Senses
photo: six senses

We all need to bring more balance into our lives. We’re busier and lonelier than ever. Although we can work from anywhere, we can’t seem to focus. While we’re trying to be proactive about our health, we’re overwhelmed by the choices.

Technology gives us the means to be more efficient, but less human connection and interaction can often make us inefficient. We’re lacking connection to other humans and community, physical and mental space and lacking opportunities to get away from it all in the middle of it all.

Our latest concept, Six Senses Place, aims to fill this gap, allowing people to join a local community which can keep them on track.

While a week-long retreat is great for a recalibration, often the real work is done when people leave the spa. Behavioural science has shown small incremental changes are longer lasting than boot camp for a week.

Reflecting the values we’re known for, this private members club will have a community-feel and our aim is to address wellbeing on a number of different planes.

We want to support our members to live their life to the fullest: balancing work, family, friends, social causes and wellbeing. These all-in-one venues will help members thrive, offering wellness guidance and practices which cut through the noise, as well as best-in-class programming, facilities and experiences, emotional and personalised service and outstanding food and beverage under one sustainable roof.

The concept will provide us with the opportunity to build on our brand. We’re opening our first Six Senses Place in London at the end of 2023, while six more will follow in Bangkok, Shanghai, Lisbon, Dubai and the US.

While a week-long retreat is great for a recalibration, often the real work is done when people leave the spa
Six Senses Place, a new club model, will build on the already successful brand / Photo: Kiattipong Panchee
Best-in-class programming remains a key focus / Photo: Six Senses Kaplankaya
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
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