What could retailers possibly learn from a Parisian spa?
The second you enter the Six Senses spa in Paris, you feel peace.
Opened in December 2009, the Six Senses spa is a unique breed in the Parisian beauty and wellbeing landscape. Designed by architect Pierre David, it is the French dépendance of the Bangkok-based Six Senses Resorts and Spas. Managed by Nathalie Abi-Khalil, a young Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne graduate who has an innate notion of service and customer orientation, Six Senses is a venture by Sonu and Eva Shivdasani who have opened superlative spas and resorts all over the world, all spelled out according to what they call the SLOW LIFE philosophy. Besides meaning that at Six Senses customers should be able to simply unwind and take the time to enjoy the best life has to offer, SLOW LIFE is the acronym for Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning Inspiring, Fun, Experiences – eight words that dictate the way the resorts and the spas are designed and run.
The Six Senses spa Paris is located under the arcades on 3, Rue du Castiglione, the street that connects the prestigious place Vendôme to the Jardin des Tuileries.
When you walk by the floor to ceiling windows, the first thing that catches your eye is the wall garden. Designed by Patrick Blanc, the lush green strip is such an unexpected sight, a surprising element amid the urban greyness of Paris, that it somehow has the power to instantly transport you into a different world.
And once you get in, you feel this peace. No matter if you are just popping in to make an appointment, buy a Sensory Box for someone you would like to pamper (this is what their gift certificate is called and believe me it will change your perception of gift certificates for ever) or get a spa treatment, the feeling is there.
The door of the Six Senses spa does not open by itself nor do you need to push it. It’s opened for you. The second you stand in front of the sliding glass door, an attentive member of staff will let you in. You won’t see anyone, because the entrance level floor only hosts a rather confidential, eclectic retail space selling exclusive and beautifully packaged Aromatherapy Associates and Voya products and of course the wall garden, but someone has definitely seen you. And so it begins. Without you really having to say or do much, at Six Senses spa you will be served, listened to, pampered, treated with much respect and as much discretion. If you have come in for a spa treatment, you will be covered in honey, scrubbed with salt, wrapped in seaweed, massaged with heavenly oils, kneaded by expert hands, only given advice if solicited, served fresh ginger tea to complete your journey while contemplating a live feed of the Parisian landscape projected on the walls and sent home feeling happy, relaxed, peaceful.
So what is it that makes customers become Six Senses devotees, some having up to 3 weekly standing appointments? What makes them want to go there as often as they can, send their friends and tell everyone they know that there is no better place to be in order to get rebalanced, rebooted, even?
Sure it’s the structure and the architecture: the wood and paper treatment cocoons instantly make you feel safe and calm. And the live camera feed of Paris projected on the walls certainly makes the relaxation area very special.
It must be the expertly concocted treatments and elegantly choreographed rituals that also make you want to spend the day being taken care of.
Or is it this unique combination of expertise, empathy, soft voice and smiling face you encounter in each and every member of the staff?
Well, I think what makes this spa unique, what makes it a sort of surreal universe where you feel safe and intimately know that everything that will happen to you will invariably be good, is the combination of it all.
At the Six Senses Paris spa they have understood that each and every element within their space and their power has to be thoroughly thought through, meticulously designed but also designed to be part of a whole. And they really know that it’s their people that make the difference, because customers will not come back for the brand, they will come back for the person who made them feel so great.
And this is where I think that retailers can learn from Six Senses Paris – they should understand that everything they do must be designed according to their philosophy and with no compromise, that it should be done within a clear vision and while never losing the big picture. And they should really understand that no matter how great their product, their advertising, their promises, their philosophy, it’s ultimately the person who will deliver upon them who will make the difference.
If retailers do this consistently, they will necessarily create an atmosphere. And whether it is peace or energy or any other positive feeling this atmosphere is loaded with, you will definitely sense it.
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