A New Zealand business has won big, taking the title for best day spa in Asia, after its entrepreneurial Auckland owner gambled on taking a Kiwi concept to the global spa mecca of Bali.
Spring spa in Seminyak village has been recognised at the World Spa Awards, in a coup for Ina Bajaj, whose East Day Spa at SkyCity Grand was also named Oceania and New Zealand's best hotel spa.
New Zealand was also named the best overall spa destination in Oceania, ahead of Tahiti, Australia, Fiji and the Cook Islands. The awards, announced yesterday at an event in Sardinia, Italy, are held in tandem with the World Travel Awards, providing huge industry exposure. Spa is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism market, heavily bankrolled by top international hotel chains.
Bajaj, who described her award as a career highlight, said: "For a New Zealand spa brand to take on the Asian spa industry giants and win has left me speechless. It's been a remarkable achievement for us."
Spring is a contemporary take on the often rarefied and pricey spa experience, developed when Bajaj spotted a gap in the market for a more social space offering routine as well as exclusive beauty services, where tech-savvy guests could choose to chill together and use their technology rather than always retreat to private treatment rooms. It opened first in Queenstown in 2012, with a design developed in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi Global and was then rolled out to Auckland and Wellington.
Bajaj, who loves Bali and spends a lot of time there, took the concept first to the
upmarket enclave of Petitenget two years ago and then secured space for a larger Spring on the rooftop of an exclusive new mall in Seminyak. It is that spa, with a tranquil rooftop setting, that won the big award. It spans 630sq m, has 180 degree views of the Indian Ocean, and features a resident DJ playing soothing beats. Guests can laze outdoors and order drinks while having a manicure or pedicure or adjourn indoors.
Bajaj is keen to open Springs in other locations. "We won't be stopping here and will be taking our 'Made in New Zealand' brand to the world," she said.
The former restaurateur got into the spa industry in Wellington in 2002, when she opened the first East Day Spa. She remembers making just $35 on day one. "These were challenging times ... spa were perceived exclusively for the rich and famous."
Bajaj credits her move to Auckland to link with SkyCity Grand as propelling business growth. The flagship spa at the five-star Auckland hotel has played host to Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, Heidi Klum, Justin Timberlake and a host of All Blacks. It was also named best New Zealand hotel spa last year.
Both East and Spring spas in New Zealand have a mix of international and local staff, including a number from Bali, where massage is a specialty. Bajaj travels widely to keep up with spa trends and also maintains an East residence in Bali. She is currently on the Indonesia island attending a staff member's wedding.
The best in New Zealand
In country awards for New Zealand spas, the best wellness retreat award went to Aro Ha at Queenstown, with The Resort at Millbrook named best resort spa.
The World Spa Awards most prestigious title, of world's best hotel spa brand went to Talise by Jumeirah, in the United Arab Emirates, with Australia's Gaia Retreat winning the world title for day spa.