Feature Story Trellis is a spectacular spa within the tranquil setting of the eighteen-acre property…

Feature Story

Trellis is a spectacular spa within the tranquil setting of the eighteen-acre property of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, Texas. A Mediterranean-style, two-story, residential-style building surrounds a courtyard that offers a beautiful natural garden environment that can be seen through large windows located throughout the spa. Outside the second story of Trellis, there is a balcony overlooking the Houstonian’s lush landscape. This 17,000-square-foot spa houses nineteen treatment rooms, including ten rooms for body treatments, six facial rooms, two couples’ rooms (each including two treatment tables and couples’ showers and tubs), and a hydrotherapy room. In addition, there are hair-styling stations, manicure and pedicure stations, luxurious locker rooms with Jacuzzi and steam room, an indoor float pool, a comfortable upstairs lounge with a fireplace, and a quiet room for before and after treatments. How much does it cost to build such a luxurious sanctuary just next to the Galleria and business center in Houston? $5.6 million. This includes $4.26 million in construction; $450,000 in furniture, fixtures, and equipment; $124,000 in computing; $380,000 in architecture and consultant fees; and other costs of $392,000. Why did the Houstonian decide to go with this investment? Al Gallo, the chief financial officer of Redstone Hospitality, which owns and operates the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, offers the following: First, the existing spa of 5,000 square feet that serves the members of the fitness club and the hotel and catering patrons is too small. It had long appointment waiting lists; and the facility itself, although somewhat historic, had outlived its usefulness. In addition, though it was owned by Redstone, it was managed by an outside spa company. Mr. Gallo notes that Redstone feels that it can manage and own the spa and can do a better job of controlling member and guest expectations. Finally, demolition of the old spa building made room for the latest addition, the new family-resort-style swimming pool. The new spa was relocated across the street, a few yards away, on a vacant parcel of land previously used as green space and some parking. The name Trellis was chosen in order to incorporate the luscious outdoor landscaping element of the property, and some elements of water were added for a feel of tranquility and relaxation. The entire project from ground breaking to grand opening took sixteen months, from September 2002 through December 2003. The hiring and training were done two months in advance of opening, and Redstone offered complimentary spa treatments to staff and members for the month prior to opening. Given the clientele, Redstone is quite selective in its hiring of licensed massage therapists. All the new hires go through “Seven Habits” training, a Franklin Covey–style leadership training program. The guests have given it rave reviews, as have the members Trellis is the only Mobil four-star spa in the city of Houston. Although 50 percent of the guests are active fitness club members and about 10 percent are hotel guests, 40 percent of the clients are from the local Houston area. Determining the correct balance of treatment rooms to locker rooms and leisure space is a challenge. To accomplish this, Redstone enlisted outside spa consultants. With the current demand, Trellis can use an additional two to three rooms beyond what it has today and therefore has plans already to expand in the near future. Is it different to be the CFO of a hotel than to be one of a hotel, a club, and a spa all at the same time? Mr. Gallo says that the key is to understand the accounting for the hotel. He has found if one can understand the nuances of hotel accounting, the club and/or spa accounting is much easier to digest because they are large businesses but viewed as additional outlets to the hotel. He did have to learn much more about the spa business with regard to payroll, such as hourly payments versus flat fees for each serve-

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Ice performed. The volume of work increases significantly within the accounting department itself because the spa is a large generator of invoices to pay, employees on staff, gift certificates to track, and software to keep up-to date and interfaced with the other hotel and club systems. By setting the club and spa up similar to, say, an outlet of the hotel, staff can process the payables, payroll, and receivables in a similar fashion without adding a whole

 

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