The Te Aroha Mineral Spa expansion of the beauty and massage arm into the Domain House is nearing completion as Matamata-Piako District Council works on the final touches.
Tourism manager Aimee Davies says the council is hoping to open late November and depending on Covid-19 level restrictions plans to host an open day.
The expansion follows after the spas and beauty services continued to be in high demand, often being booked out two weeks in advance. Also, the Domain House, a former tea house from the early 1900s, was previously used as a venue for hire which had little to no interest in the past 15 years.
Davies says: "Despite fluctuating Covid-19 levels, there has continued to be demand for spas, massage and beauty treatments, and we only expect that to continue as Kiwis start planning to get out and explore New Zealand this summer."
For the past three months, the Edwardian landmark received some much-needed repairs and maintenance to prepare it for commercial use, including repiling, air conditioning installed and the veranda replaced. It is now home to a mix of one and two-bed treatment rooms and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area.
"The refurbishment looks really good and we're currently setting up the rooms, appointing additional beauty therapists and making the final touches," Davies says.
The Te Aroha Mineral Spas currently has seven mineral spa rooms with only one room dedicated to beauty, meaning they can only have one therapist working at a time on one customer.
"But there's so much more we can offer in Domain House. We'll soon be able to cater the customers who ask for a couples' massage, pamper party or the mothers and daughters who would like to be treated together. We have the potential to provide treatments for four or five people at the same time."
Davies says the décor has also been refreshed to suit the modern era.
"Which nicely complements the special character of the building, including the pressed copper ceiling and ornate fireplace in the reception area. It's a lovely space, with gorgeous, elevated views and we can't wait to show it off and pamper our clients in the new space."
The move of the beauty and massage arm will open up space for an extra mineral spa in the current facility.
"So we'll have eight mineral spas available. [The new] one will be unique as we're uncovering an existing stainless steel tub which will allow customers to use aromatherapy oils."
Meanwhile, work on the new spa facility for Te Aroha, approved in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, is progressing with the working group currently looking into critical risks.
One of the risks being assessed is whether there would be enough geothermal water to supply a larger spa facility. Project manager Graham Shortland says: "So far the feedback has been promising but there are a few more steps before we'll have certainty."
The other critical risk is whether the ground in the Domain is stable enough to build a new facility. Experts will begin those investigations soon.
The working group has also looked at other spa facilities around the country to help consider design options for the new Te Aroha facility. Group member and Mayor Ash Tanner says: "We want to do something with a wow factor enticing people to come."
Looking at the other facilities, Tanner says in terms of design, the group would consider a mixture of mineral water and normal heated pools as well as pools that allows multiple people to relax in.
"The demand for beauty therapy has increased [all over the country] and the places we looked at said they wished their [beauty arm] was bigger, so we have taken that on board as well."
Despite the council having committed $18.9 million to the project over the next 10 years, nothing is set in stone yet and the new spa complex will only go ahead if the business case stacks up. The decision if the project should continue to the next phase is expected around mid 2022.