During dinner with Ian Brewis, who runs all of the Chi spas for Shangri La, we began discussing spas in Vegas and Macau. He had just come from Las Vegas where the Hong Kong-based Shangri La brand is apparently looking at possibilities for a new hotel and spa.
We talked about how Asians – and especially the Chinese – really like to gamble and why he anticipates that a Shangri La in Las Vegas would be a home run. Just like many Americans who traveled to China in the past 20 years prefered to stay in American style hotels (think Hilton, Marriott, etc.), the Chinese, who are now beginning to travel outside of China, are looking for a familiar hotel brand. Ta da! Shangri La.
Then the very next day I read this article in the NY Times, “Las Vegas Caters to Asia’s High Rollers” which explains that “Casino operators have long recognized that a large number of Asians, especially Chinese and Chinese-Americans, are avid gamblers.”
Hmmm…put me down for some Shangri La stock.
After visiting six spas in Canada on this trip and combining these experiences with what I learned from visiting a few other spas in Canada in the past, here are the things that surprised me the most about the Canadian spa scene:
1. I didn’t realize that therapists in Canada go through much more extensive training than therapists in the U.S. (My massage therapist at Ste. Anne’s went to school for three years.) I checked out some of the massage schools and found that 2200 hours of education was about average, compared to 600 hours in the U.S. In general, the treatments I experienced throughout Canada have been noticiably more professional.
2. I was surprised at how many boutique spas there were in Canada and even more so, that most were all-inclusive. More often than not, overnight accommodations, all meals (including tea), and a spa treatment were included in the nightly room rate.
3. Detox was big, weight loss not so much.
4. The Canadian spa industry is much more developed than I thought, perhaps due in part to the fact that they haven’t done much marketing or PR outside of Canada.
(added as a result of the comment posted)
5. Elmcrest College of Applied Health Sciences & Spa Management has a one year spa management program that has been around for many years. What’s special about their program is that all the students get practice in all spa positions because they actually work at a day spa, which the school runs. Another well kept secret that hopefully won’t stay a secret much longer.