Concept & Brand Creation

Most spas are created equal. Exceptionally, the Cottonmill Private Members’ spa at Hertfordshire hotel, Sopwell House, was designed to be rather less equal than others.

Case Study

How do you elevate a spa from comes-as-standard to distinctive, differentiating and magnetic?

AB hotels were to invest £14 million into a new spa at Sopwell House, their hotel in the English countryside. To generate superior returns from this investment, the spa would need to appeal to an elite audience of like-minded local professionals, celebrities, families and well-off empty nesters.

But the generic hotel spa, once a rare bird, had become increasingly commonplace.

We examined the needs and aspirations of the new spa’s 15 audience segments. Idiosyncratic outliers aside, there were two universal needs amongst the group: for identity and status affirmation, and to be recognised within a community.

With these insights in mind, we proposed a novel idea: a Private Members’ Spa that borrowed a sense of exclusivity and style from urban private members’ clubs. A place to feel good – and to feel good about belonging to.

Working closely with the design and operations team we imbued every aspect of the spa with a single organising thought: Indulgence Therapy. We devised unique signature guest experiences, created conscious moments of luxury service design, and crafted a distinctive name and visual identity to represent the idea.

Naming the spa ‘Cottonmill’ evoked a sense of cosseting luxury, and drew a direct line to the hotel’s past – it stands on the site of a former cotton mill. The club’s fine hand-drawn logotype is accompanied by an equally fine drawing of a Great Egret, an elegant bright white bird of the heron family and a denizen of mill ponds.

We wrote and designed more than 100 pieces of sales, marketing and operating collateral. These included luxury membership sales packs and handbooks, club tokens, corporate stationery, robing, and VIP invitations. Specially commissioned abstract egrets by sculptor Sophie-Elizabeth Thompson dot the spa and its gardens.

Cottonmill opened its doors to its first members and guests on 1st August 2019.

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Luxury Branding is a strategic advisor specialising in generating sustainable brand value. Its principal experience is in the ultra-competitive premium segments of the tourism, travel, hospitality and residential real estate sectors.

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Piers Schmidt and Ian R Douglas of Phoenix Global are the co-founders of Kingham Leigh. This dynamic new partnership has been created to design, develop and operate innovative hospitality projects in Europe and beyond.

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