Protect your spa

Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Articles

Protect your spa

Three tips to avoid risks

By Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C.  

Published in Spa Inc. magazine’s Winter 2013-2014 issue

Adding a fitness regime to your spa menu is an exciting way to create new interest, but it can also have negative consequences.

“If it’s not your expertise then you should be very careful,” says Vivienne O’Keeffe of Spa Profits Consulting Inc. “Don’t try to be all things to all people.”

In October, the Hills Health Ranch in B.C. was sued by a former guest for injuries she claimed were inflicted through the advice of a fitness instructor. With 30 years in the industry and a clean record, the resort will surely survive, but this type of litigation could be crippling to a smaller spa.

O’Keeffe has been working as a spa consultant for about 20 years and says ther are important steps spa owners can take to mitigate risk when incorporating a fitness plan. Here are three of her top takeaways:

1. Health History Intake

Health history intake forms are extremely important and should be filled out by guests as soon as they arrive for their stay, treatment, or fitness class.

“Any projects that I work on I make sure they have a waiver whether it’s a water spa, health spa, day spa, or medical spa. We need to know the terrain we’re working on, what the person has done before or about any underlying health conditions,” says O’Keeffe.

In addition, if a guest gets injured, the paperwork and therapist notes could be the only thing keeping you from writing a big cheque.

2. Staffing

“I wouldn’t touch anybody that doesn’t have proper certification,” says O’Keeffe. “You’re playing Russian roulette.”

O’Keeffe warns that spa managers should ask potential employees to bring their certificates into the interview and check them with the given establishment. Although it takes extra work, it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re employing competent and qualified staff to ensure the best possible service for your clients.

“I had one situation where the person had borrowed their sister’s certificate and then I had another person who hadn’t participated in the course they said they had,” she says.

3. Insurance

When working with the insurance broker, spa owners must provide a full outline of their activities from fitness to spa services to staff credentials. This allows the insurance company to roll all the items into one package potentially lowering the costs and protecting you against all future risks.

“Cheap insurance is not that cheap if it doesn’t offer sufficient coverage,” says O’Keeffe.


Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C., President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., has earned an international reputation as an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She specializes in working with owners to create profitable spas. As an international consultant she is highly skilled in developing unique product and treatment lines, as well as training programs. Vivienne has studied and trained extensively in the beauty and well-being arena and is a member of ISPA, Leading Spas of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012) and the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). She is also a published author, having written a wide range of articles on developing and running a successful spa. Spa Profits Consulting Inc. is the only SpaExcellence certified consultancy in North America, and is committed to setting the standard for quality, successful spas on a global level. For more information call 604.921.6245 or email


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