By Virginia Muzik

Located in a lovely turn-of-the-century building on a street where there are quite a number of beauty salons, Endota Spa Hampton stands out for its successful mix of modern meets old world interior and nurturing atmosphere. The Endota brand gets its name from an indigenous Australian word meaning “beautiful” and this is applicable to its spas, both rural and urban. Opened in 2003, Endota Spa Hampton caters to the nearby bayside suburbs and is about 20 minutes drive from the centre of Melbourne. At the time it opened, there were very few day spas in the area.

Spa manager, Lisa Parkinson feels Hampton is an ideal location for a day spa, with its relaxed feel, wide leafy streets, vibrant ambience and the fact it’s not too far from central Melbourne. “The site itself was chosen for its heritage charm, and the choice was cemented when we were able to secure a lease which fit within the Endota Business Model,” she says.

Endota Spa Hampton is owned and operated by Urban Spa Retreat Pty Ltd. Parkinson is director of Urban Spa Retreat and has been in the beauty industry for 15 years. In 2005, she opened White Spa Mountain Retreat at Mt Hotham Ski Resort with business partner Alison McEwan. In 2006, Lisa and Alison worked with the Mt Hotham Skiing Company to open the new state-of-the-art six million dollar spa, Onsen Retreat and Spa. Late 2006 saw the merge of White Spa and Onsen Retreat into one complete business unit. In April 2008, Lisa purchased Endota Spa in Hampton, and looks forward to building the business and expanding within the Endota franchise.

Making the most of its turn-of-the-century setting, The Endota Spa Hampton team has created a spa which immediately makes people feel at home: a home that is furnished with contemporary touches and equipped with “attuned-to-your-every-need” therapists.

“In creating the spa, we simply allowed its natural features to speak for themselves,” Parkinson says. “The spa has warm, dark honey-coloured polished floorboards throughout. Sunlight streams in through skylights and leadlight windows. The feel of the spa is warm and welcoming.

“Endota believes spas can be for everyone: women, men, mums, dads, students… We have created an understated, modern spa environment where everyone feels comfortable. Our service is super-friendly, but not stand-on-ceremony. And our organic treatments are priced so that people can feel free to come back again and again.”

The spa uses its own brand of organic skincare, along with Dermalogica. According to Parkinson, Endota Organic skincare is all about caring: caring for clients, caring for the environment and caring for Australia’s land and waterways.

“Since chemicals absorb rapidly through skin, Endota has always focused on providing natural and organic treatment and skincare ingredients,” says Parkinson. “Organic ingredients are more potent and more packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and proteins than their synthesised counterparts. Plus, supporting organic production keeps pesticides and chemicals out of Australian farms, and out of Australian ecosystems.”

Endota’s commitment to the Australian environment is also demonstrated in its alliance with Bush Heritage Australia. One per cent of Endota Organic skincare sales are donated to Bush Heritage Australia to assist them in protecting Australia’s most valuable land, water and wildlife.

“We also stock Dermalogica, as it is a perfect complement to the Endota organic range,” adds Parkinson. “Dermalogica believes that people are seeking products which work, not overblown hype or frilly packaging. Their focus is on researching and developing truly effective treatment skincare. It sounds down to earth to us, and so we happily stock and promote them.”

The minute you step inside, you know you are in an Endota spa. White walls show off dark timber accents. Relaxed staff provide an “every client is a local” service. Parkinson says that they have deliberately created a spa environment which is irresistible to anyone – men and women. It caters to those who have been to the most luxurious spas in the world, and those stepping into a spa for the first time, thinking, “what is this all about?”

The spa’s core clientele is bayside locals mainly in the 26 to 45 age group. Women are still the main clientele, with 81 per cent of all guests visiting the spa being female. Client feedback is monitored by feedback forms, both in the spa and via Endota’s head office.

Endota Spa Hampton’s signature treatment is Drenched: a Billabong Footbath followed with a body cleanse using lavender and lime and exfoliation with rock salt and locally grown honey. Warm essential oils are then drizzled over the body then washed off with warm water. They are then wrapped in a yoghurt cocoon scented with a personalised blend of organic herbs. Then they head straight into a scalp massage, and sink into a long tub soak.

Their most popular treatment is Endotarama, which combines a Billabong Footbath and a 30-minute organic Endota facial with a back, neck and shoulder massage. The treatment is available with the choice of a 30 minute or one hour massage.

The spa has some quick treatments for time-pressed people. “Our shortest treatments, the Billabong Footbath, express manicure or pedicure and Express Facials last from between 15 to 30 minutes,” says Parkinson. “We offer them as a quick pick-me-up for people on the run. But in reality, our laidback, ‘linger-longer’ atmosphere entices most people to take their time with a longer treatment.”

Retail sales are important to the spa, says Parkinson, because the treatment is really only just beginning once a client steps out of the spa. “When clients leave, they feel relaxed, floaty. Their skin is glowing,” she says. “But without maintenance at home, those effects are quickly lost.”

All the therapists are professionals rigorously trained to know both the Endota Organic and Dermalogica skincare ranges. They know which products work for which skin issues, and are even equipped with some products’ uses and benefits that you might not expect. Following each treatment, the therapist discusses the products used during the treatment with every client, and then prescribes skincare to continue with at home.

Parkinson says her staff embodies the Endota “down to earth heaven” approach: relaxed and friendly; the exact opposite of the “haughty, stand on ceremony” staff that many people expect in a spa environment.

The Endota brand has city and rural spas, offering both convenience and escape. The aim is to bring a relaxed, “healthy Aussie holiday” feel to each of their spas, regardless of the location. Wherever you find an Endota spa, you’ll find that the spa interior is unique to its environment and location, but the friendly Endota service is the same.

“We do not see why ‘convenience’ and ‘escape’ should be mutually exclusive concepts. We all want to feel holiday-happy and relaxed whenever we possibly can,” Parkinson says.

There are currently 33 Endota spas around Australia. In 2008, this number is expected to grow to around 40 spas. They recently expanded into the Northern Territory with the launch of Endota Spa Darwin in the new luxury waterfront complex Mantra Pandanus Apartments earlier this year, leaving Western Australia as the only Australian state without an Endota spa. But stay tuned, says Parkinson.

The Endota Organic skincare brand is also evolving, with the company seeking organic certification from the international accreditation body, Ecocert.

The future of spas in Australia will be an interesting one for Parkinson. With more Australians working longer, harder hours than ever, they are embracing wellness to balance that strain. “In the coming decade, we believe that the popularity of spas and other wellness-related businesses will only grow,” she says. “This could lead to some dilution in the quality of the products and services on offer, as entrepreneurial people seek to capitalise on the increased demand. Consequently, we hope that there will soon be greater regulation of the industry. As market leaders in the Australian spa industry, we will definitely offer our expertise and assistance to any future industry regulators.

“We expect to see other spas emulating our ‘relaxed, organic, affordable’ approach as the economy tightens and disposable income retracts in the coming year. The challenge for Endota Spa Hampton – and indeed all Endota spas – will be to continue to offer the high standards of service that we always have, and to continue to draw people to an Endota spa experience on the strength of our reputation.”

Endota Hampton is located at 541 Hampton Street, Hampton, Victoria. Phone: (03) 9598 7866 or 1300 737 330. Visit www.endota.com.au.

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