Destination Spa Brand Creation

In early 2018, Luxury Branding was engaged by Bejerano family-owned AB Hotels to develop an innovative luxury concept for the new spa at Sopwell House, the Group’s luxury country house hotel, situated in the English county of Hertfordshire. This is the story of Cottonmill.

Our task was threefold. First, to position the new spa as different, special and better to the many other excellent spas found in the UK country house hotel market. Second, to create a proposition that would ensure the long-term relevance and appeal of the facility and maximise the return on the Group’s £14m investment. Third, to elevate the overall reputation of AB Hotels and the Sopwell House hotel itself.

Having conducted primary research into the requirements and aspirations of 15 target market segments for the new spa, we coalesced their needs and desires into four tribes, each of which exhibited idiosyncratic wishes but whose common need state was seeking affirmation of their identity and status and, in particular, wishing to belong to a community within which they would feel recognised. Rooted in these insights, we proposed the novel brand concept of a Private Members’ Spa.

The concept takes its cue from the new generation private members’ club, making waves across the world by offering exclusive benefits and personalised service to a carefully curated target audience. Our community, however, would be housed not in a trendy urban townhouse or loft but in a world-class spa that would become a warm and welcoming home to an elite family of like-minded local professionals, celebrities, families and empty nesters.

This amalgamation of two previously discrete industries created the opening for the design of an entirely new conceptual and physical space. To complete the concepting, we orientated the sense of belonging around the bold proposition of ‘Indulgence Therapy’, a true marriage of the physical and the psychological.

Governed always by this central organising thought, we worked closely with the design and operations teams to mastermind the delivery of the Indulgence Therapy promise across 360° of the member and hotel guest experience. This involved developing unique signature guest experiences, conscious moments of luxury service design, as well as creating a distinctive name and visual identity to represent the idea.

We proposed the moniker ‘Cottonmill’, which denotes the soft and cosseting environment of the spa, while tapping deeply into the history of the site where once stood a working cotton mill.

The hand-drawn Cottonmill logotype, which features a thread-like quality, is accompanied by a beautiful symbolic representation of an egret, a noble white heron whose natural habitats are water sources such as mills. 
We also commissioned the sculptor Sophie-Elizabeth Thompson to create a series of abstract egrets that have been installed across the spa interiors and its gardens.

Finally, we wrote and designed upwards of 100 pieces of sales, marketing and operating collateral including luxury membership sales packs and handbooks, club tokens, corporate stationery, robing, VIP invitations, as well as trade and consumer advertising.

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

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