Rate, classify spa centers, local operator urges gov’t-A A +A
Saturday, September 1, 2012
A SPA player in Cebu is urging the government to come up with and implement classification ratings for spa centers to strengthen Cebu’s footing as a health and wellness destination.
According to Johnny Siao, proprietor of Spa Banilad Corp. that operates The Spa At Cebu, this measure will also regulate and professionalize spa services being offered to customers, particularly to foreign tourists.
The classification would also distinguish the spa centers that offer “a real spa experience” from those that merely offer a massage. He said the ranking is similar to what the Department of Tourism (DOT) is granting to hotels, which are classified from three-star to six-star facilities.
Siao emphasized that operating a spa center is more than having well-trained therapists, it is also about the total wellness ambience. Proper sanitation should be strictly imposed particularly for items like towels, linens, and bed sheets.
Any other name
Siao began to offer spa services in Cebu in 1998. Spa At Cebu currently has five outlets located in Ayala Center Cebu, City Sports Club, Radisson Blu Hotel, Banilad and the newly-opened 15 room outlet in J Centre in Mandaue City.
“Everybody uses the name spa. We should protect its name,” said Siao, who is also a board member of the Spa and Wellness Association of Cebu (SWAC).
He stressed that a spa center is different from a massage parlor. A spa, according to the DOT guidelines, is a “facility that exudes a tranquil environment offering various amenities and services intended to relieve stress, pamper the body and make one feel relaxed and rejuvenated to promote a healthier way of life.”
Tourism stakeholder Jay Aldeguer of the Islands Group of Companies agreed with Siao on the need for a classification ranking of spa centers in the country, given that spa services have become a main driver of tourism in recent years.
“A promising industry needs to be properly regulated before the whole industry gets tarnished by the proliferation of so-called dubious spas,” Aldeguer said.
“Spa wellness can be a big business for our tourism sector but must be categorized properly like the hotel categories-like standard to luxury level—and must be regulated by the DOT,” said Eric Mendoza, owner of Essenza Spa.
However, in a phone interview yesterday, with Regional Director Rowena Montecillo said the DOT has released the latest rules and regulations for spa accreditation.
“Spas are categorized based on the kind of services they offer,” she said. They are categorized as day spa, recreational spa, and resort/hotel spa.
Under the Tourism Act of 2009, periodic accreditation is compulsory for primary tourism enterprises like accommodation establishments, but voluntary for secondary enterprises.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2012.