People behind the products
The SPA Traveller talks to Abi Wright founder of spabreaks.com
What inspired you to start Spabreaks.com?
Images: Courtesy Abi Wright and spabreaks.com
I had been working in the spa and hotel industries for 10 years and felt that there was a gap in the market the range of opportunities and experiences that spas have to offer, all in one place, and without having to spend a fortune. When I met my business partners five years ago the time was just right! We bought the Spabreaks.com domain name and the business has grown rapidly from there - we are now a team of nearly 50.
What are the most popular breaks you sell and why?
In truth, it is a whole mix of things because everyone needs and wants something different. It also depends on the time of the year. In January we had lots of people going on group getaways with their friends – celebrating birthdays, hen parties, and simply enjoying time together. When Easter holidays come along a lot of the bookings are for longer breaks.
What are the three main things people look for from a spa holiday?
Cost, convenience, and content. Cost is an obvious one as everyone has felt the pinch in the last few years. Convenience is both in terms of location (particularly if it is a spa day – no one wants to have a long journey for a short stay), and it also applies in terms of how convenient the whole booking process is – that is why we give people the option to book online, over the phone, by email, or enquire through our online chat facility). Finally, content – this is to do with what our packages entail – cost isn’t enough, this is about value for money; there’s no point in something being cheap if you are just going to have to add on all the trimmings when you get there.
What is your advice to first-time spa-goers?
Get into the zone, turn your phone off and lock it away; the day goes so quickly so you want to savour every minute, work can wait! … and take a spare swimming costume – no one wants to have a massage in a soggy swimsuit.
Why do you think the spa industry has boomed during a recession?
Because even when people can’t afford the time or the money to go on a long holiday we all still need a break! We all live very stressful lives at the best of times, but over the last few years we have been pushed to the limit. It’s so important. We have a belief at Spabreaks.com that wellbeing is a necessity, not a luxury; it was the basis of the #bekindtoyou Women’s Wellness Week that we launched last year, and the #checkyouout Men’s MOT Week we are planning this year.
Can you tell us about your Recovery Retreats?
Recovery Retreats are a part of Spabreaks.com that is extremely close to my heart. The spa industry has a rocky relationship with cancer and specifically the treatment of cancer, mostly out of a desire to be precautionary. When faced with a customer who had been rather rudely turned away from one of our venues four years ago because she was unwell, I was appalled, and since then have worked with select venues to create Recovery Retreats. Customers have consultations over the phone before they arrive so on the day it’s just about relaxation. Treatments are safe and with specially trained therapists where necessary, and the emphasis is on what you can do not what you can’t do; we can’t make pools and saunas safe while you are having chemotherapy but we can provide gorgeous food, amazing views, and lovely treatments.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you at Spabreaks.com?
I really can’t pick just one moment, it’s different things for different reasons. From a business perspective it probably has to be featuring at number two in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2012 – it was such a surprise and made all the hard work worthwhile. Recovery Retreats are an ongoing source of pride for the whole team – if you can make someone’s day a little easier when they are having a rough time then that means the world. On a personal level the constant inspiration that I find in the team I now have around me is priceless – last year four of them walked 100 miles for charity as part of our #bekindtoyou Women’s Wellness Week! Ultimately though, when I get home at the end of the day and see my two children the knowledge that everything I do is providing for them even makes the 5am wake-up calls a pleasure.
What is your favourite product range when travelling and why?
I am a working mum so everything has to be practical and fit into my handbag. At the moment I am a big fan of the Rituals products – they smell beautiful and their Ginkgo’s Secret hand balm is the best thing in the world for anyone who has to go from the washing-up to the board room!
What is your most memorable international spa?
In recent months it has been The Europe Resort and Spa in Ireland. It was created by ESPA and it is just beautiful. From the design to the views, the location, the facilities – I highly recommend it. Further afield it’s pretty hard to beat the SHA Wellness Clinic – I am hoping to head there soon to try to beat my Coca-Cola addiction!
What is your favourite spa treatment?
It’s all about the individual therapist rather than the specific treatment. I recently had the most incredible full body aromatherapy massage at The Grand Brighton thanks to a man named William. His knowledge was unparalleled and he made it such a bespoke experience, I could have slept for the rest of the day afterwards!