DALLAS-Wyndham International Inc., transitioning from hotel owner to operator, has laid out a rollout to pamper consumers by breaking new ground for its Golden Door spa and specialty skincare products. The next step in the evolution will be establishing a men’s line, developing skincare products for women 35 to 45 years old and taking part of the Golden Door show on the road via specialty TV networks.

The stepped-up hype for the Golden Door spa and its botanical-based product line will come to market in stages over the next year. “The consumer today sees it as not just something you do to relax, but it’s something you do to stay healthy so I think the time is right for us,” Duane Elledge, senior vice president of operations for Wyndham’s western region, tells GSR.

Wyndham acquired the 377-acre Golden Door spa in Escondido, CA, six years ago, getting an upscale skincare line in the lock, stock and barrel buy. The products are tailored to women over 45 years old, with special ingredients to protect and refresh skin regardless of climate. “We’re ready to take it to the next level,” Elledge says of a plan to develop a line for women 10 years younger.

Wyndham just disclosed plans to develop its largest spa and first one on the East Coast. A 48,000-sf Golden Door will be incorporated into the 496-room Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, FL, as part of a $75-million renovation by the Ireland Cos. The terms of the deal returned the holding to the resort’s original developer and keeps Wyndham in place as operator. Next year, the asset will be renamed to the Wyndham Resort & Golden Door Spa at Weston, as the first step toward a conversion into 252 two-bedroom condos. The property’s retooling will be done by spring 2006.

Meanwhile, Elledge is negotiating with manufacturers, predominately European, to develop and market a men’s line comparable to the women’s. “We are looking for a manufacturer who can move us into the future,” he explains, adding the beefed-up skincare business plan calls for a minimum 25% annual growth year after year once products hit Wyndham’s carefully selected retail shelves in a mix of bricks, online and airwaves.

Wyndham is negotiating with QVC and Fine Living Network to gain more exposure for the Golden Door spa and select boutique products, some of which can be found in gift baskets in Wyndham’s 37,000 hotel rooms in the US and abroad. Elledge says the mass merchandising will be “hard-to-find spa items” that don’t require in-depth explanations for applications. The TV-available merchandise, some on shelves in select Wyndham hotels and resorts, will include robes, candles and other Golden Door home store items.

Though the hotelier’s chasing more profit, the strategy also recognizes there is a growing number of today’s consumers with the economic means to nurture built-in desires to be pampered. The TV strategy is a savvy marketing tool to introduce consumers to the Golden Door, a California-style, unique retreat to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. The posh getaway in the hills has a staff of 160 to re-energize up to 40 clients per week, each paying $5,160 for the stay. Elledge says the spa averages 37 clients per week, with the check-ins drawing more women from the Northeast than ever before…many “Wall Street workers” swapping day-to-day, fast-paced stress for a one-week escape with quick results from herbal wraps, hydrotherapy, exercise and healthy dining.

The Golden Door spa began in 1940 as a $19.50 per week, bring a tent, health farm in Tecate in Baja California and transitioned in 1975 to an ancient Japanese Honjin Inn with a 300-year-old temple bell and replica of the 16th Century labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral nestled in the SoCal hillside. Founder Deborah Szekely and her late husband sold the spa in 1998 to Patriot American Hospitality Inc. shortly before it changed to Wyndham. The Golden Door has been ranked as the top spa in the US for 13 consecutive years by Zagat US Hotel, Resort and Spa Guide and holds top spots with industry connoisseurs like Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure.

With Wyndham as its owner, the Golden Door spa is an integral part of the Boulders resort in Carefree, AZ, the Peaks in Telluride, CO and El Conquistador/Las Casitas in Puerto Rico. Wyndham also operates one retail store at the 69,145-sf El Pedregal in Carefree, the hotelier’s lone shopping center in the portfolio, and has products for sale in 12 branded hotels. Elledge says the teams discussed putting the lineup into other third-party retail stores, but the right match has yet to be made in terms of clientele and resort-environment location.

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