With the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring at its core, Mother Nature is the star at The Springs Resort & Spa. At over 1,002 feet deep, “The Mother Spring” not only provides geothermal energy to The Springs Resort & Spa – constantly feeding mineral water to 24 smaller pools terraced along the riverbank, with water temperatures ranging from 80 degrees to 114 degrees – but also provides heat to schools, many municipal and county buildings and breweries in the town of Pagosa Springs.
Director of Wellness Operations, Sharon Holtz, was brought in to oversee the implementation of a two-phase program of wellness offerings over the next year at the resort, such as Forest Bathing Hikes, Aqua Yoga, Mindfulness & Meditation, Wetland Nature Walks and even Aqua Sound Bathing.
In this hospitality industry webinar, Sharon shared the details of this program, walking us through her thoughts and strategies on how to deeply embed wellness programming into a resort’s broader offering, and what the unique challenges are of “operating” a geothermal hot spring!
Sharon has more than two decades of industry experience, working throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean in spas and health clubs at resorts where she has learned a variety of culturally inspired healing traditions. Holtz’s focus at The Springs Resort is on guest experiences that make the most of the healing properties of Pagosa’s mineral waters, while underscoring the significance of the resort being home to the world’s deepest geothermal spring.
Details of the two-phase program of wellness offerings
The Springs Resort is an oasis for guests to immerse themselves in nature and Sharon’s two-phase program of wellness offerings is key to help guests to expand their experience at the resort to “explore, restore, and connect.” Sharon explains, “there’s so much to explore here in Pagosa Springs because of our natural environment, but also even in the water. We have 24 geothermal soaking pools and we have a pool that actually goes into the river. Spending time in the springs themselves and being able to explore all the different pools, we basically say ‘find your perfect pool.’ For some, it has to do with the view, it has to do with the temperature. I mean there are so many different ways that they can explore the different pools to see which one really resonates with them. It’s fun, you see people going through and adventuring and really getting a sense of all the different opportunities they have. It’s about getting them out of their kind of comfort zone a little bit, we want them to explore and try new things. The biggest thing with our programming is we want to be able to have something for different types of people. Some people want to be here and they want to be out and exploring and hiking or skiing and they’ve definitely got that energy that they want to get out there and be more adventurous. Then they’re going to come back to us in the evening and they’re going to soak and they’re going to take to the waters and they’re going to restore. But, there’s other programming we put in to be able to help facilitate and help them relieve some of those sore muscles from their adventures that they’ve had during the day, whether that’s coming for a spa treatment or doing any of the other activities that really can help promote their overall state of wellbeing. Some people are so anxious and stressed and they’re needing much quieter activities, so they’re needing things that are going to bring them into a more balanced place. We make sure we have those opportunities with Aqua yoga, for example. Everyone thinks of ‘okay yoga, I’ve done yoga I know what that’s like.’ By being able to bring a yoga practice into the pools by being in the thermal water and getting the benefits of the 13 minerals while you’re having this beautiful yoga practice. I have to tell you about the ultimate experience I had with Aqua yoga, it was just barely dusting with snow, and we were all laying floating in the water for Shavasana at the end of the practice as the snow was just fluttering down, and you have this warm and cool contrast going on, and it was magic. I mean it really was. It really solidified for me the fact that we can have these transformational moments for our guests that really make a profound impact on how they leave us and how they go back to their day to day life. So that is where we really look to expand the offerings to be able to speak to different people. Some don’t want to have anything to do with yoga, that’s just not their interest. We have our forest bathing hike, we’re so lucky that it’s right in our backyard. We have this wonderful big hill that’s full of dense forest that we can guide our guests on this hike to get them out into the forest and be able to get the benefits of really being immersed in nature. So that is where we look at the resources we have around us and how we consider those and make something special for our guests.
Why make wellness a part of the entire strategy for the property?
It would be easy to simply bring attention to the main focal feature of the hotel like a spa or geothermal pools, in the case of The Springs, but we wanted to know why it was important for Sharon to incorporate wellness into the total strategy from a dollar and cents perspective.
Sharon answered, “the key is that these days especially, people are looking for more, but they’re also looking for more tools to put in their self-care toolkit. They need things to cope with everything that we’re dealing with in the world right now. Sometimes people in their day to day life don’t have time to explore these things because they’re so busy in their work, their home life, whatever it is that that’s engaging their time. But, when they’re away when they’re on holiday, it allows them the time and the space to create some bandwidth to be able to pull in some new ideas of how to make themselves feel better. That is where I feel like we’re in such a prime position, anytime anyone is staying with you, I feel like people are more receptive to new things because they’re out of kind of their day-to-day, so they’re willing to try something a little bit different.
That is where I think people are primed to be able to come in and try something and bring that home with them.
Sharon continued, “so let’s just say it’s a meditation practice. It may be something they’ve heard about and heard of the benefits but they really haven’t had the time or the opportunity to try it. All of a sudden they see how they feel after it, they can bring it home and they can find ways to incorporate it into their day-to-day. That builds loyalty that will keep people coming back because every time they go to practice or even just take some time to do a quick meditation, they’re going to remember the first time they explored it and experienced it. Building that kind of loyalty for people to come back again and again and to feel like we are their wellness resource, that’s a huge opportunity from the dollars and cents side of things. I find that people are more willing to explore new things and pay for new things as well, because they want that new experience, they want the benefit that they can get from it.”
Differences of capturing resort guests and local guests or tourists that are not staying at the resort
The split of types of guests at The Springs right now is 40% resort guests and 60% local guests. Sharon’s main priority is to capture as many of their resort guests as possible because she wants to make sure that they are enhancing the guest experience as much as possible. As for locals, there is a ton of pent up local demand both from residents and simply tourists of Pagosa Springs in general. They are booking visits 2-3 in advance because they are booked solid after coming out of COVID.
Sharon explains further, “right now, from a marketing perspective, we want to make sure we’re enhancing our resort guests experience we’re making sure that the time of booking that they’re getting prompted to book their spa services, and having follow up emails, also make sure they’re including that just to ensure that that awareness is there so we can try and prompt them to make sure they can get in if they’re wanting to.”
What are the unique challenges of “operating” a geothermal hot spring
Managing the operations of the geothermal hot springs can be challenging because it is like trying to manage mother nature. Some of the unique challenges that Sharon highlighted were:
- Managing the river flow with the snowmelt in the spring where the runoff can get quite high. They can’t control it but they mitigate the effects as much as possible.
- Using the San Juan River to cool the geothermal water by running them side by side with the Master Pool Engineer who Sharon says is extraordinary to work with. They keep the pools at different temperatures so that guests can find their “perfect pool.”
- Caring for free-flow pools that have untreated water so that guests can get all of the minerals and benefits of the water.
If you want to learn more about Dave and Sharon’s conversation, feel free to listen to it HERE.
As a reminder, Micrometrics believes that businesses should create more meaningful connections with the people they serve by enhancing face-to-face interactions and creating connections with guests at scale. Our hospitality clients leverage powerful messaging automations to improve customer experience and operational efficiency at their properties. You can learn more about us at https://www.micrometrics.com/hospitality/