• Engineering relaxation

    13 May 2015

    Global frontrunner, Barr+Wray, provides specialist spa interior design services, from project inception to execution, through their experienced team of talented designers. As engineers the firm focuses on the mechanics behind the finishes, providing a fully coordinated, integrated and operational Spa Design solution.

    Sofitel DMU - Steam Room

    “We are the ‘Creators of Wellbeing and Relaxation’,” states Barr + Wray (H.K) Limited Managing Director, Derek Barton.

    Over the last few years, Barr+Wray (BW) has been involved in the opening of some truly outstanding spa projects, notably ESPA at Resort World Sentosa (RWS), and ESPA Life at the Corinthia Hotel, London. Barton explains that both projects were very challenging, large scale developments with extensive wet facilities, at very different locations. RWS is a new build project on a vast island site where literally hundreds of contractors are involved in the development of a theme park, shopping mall and hotels, making the delivery and distribution of materials remarkably challenging. “Not to mention piping all the pool systems,” he exclaims.

    The Corinthia Hotel, originally built in 1883 as the Metropole Hotel and operating as Ministry of Defence offices until 2007, was a more challenging project due to the very location of the development, and the type of building. Stainless steel pool, filters, tanks and pool features delivered during shell and core works, mothballed to enable construction, a year later during fit-out works. Barton states that it is a stunning project and is unique for a city centre spa as it features male, female and unisex wet areas.

    Reality versus trend

    Stanley House Spa, England - Vitality Pool

    “Pools which incorporate a ‘circuit’ where the bather can wallow from one station to another, providing differing strength massage using air and water to alternate parts of the body, are more suited to larger resort properties, whereas vitality pools are still the favourite of city spas with the standard whirlpool becoming a thing of the past, states Barton. “Boutique spa properties can turn out to be one-off projects with a major ‘wow’ factor, or by their very nature, the boutique budget and offering may not lend itself to a large spa wet facility. It all depends on where the property is being positioned in the market, and obviously, available funds.”

    “But propelling the industry forwards,” he continues, “in some cases the hoteliers or the spa consultants are the ones pushing the designers to provide new and innovative techniques. These are however limited to the elements that the users experience, and often, very little interest is given to the technology ‘back of house’ as this is seen as unnecessary and can be sourced for the minimum expense possible. There are water, energy and chemical saving techniques that can be implemented on site; however this generally adds cost and so can easily be ignored.”

    “Within the spa, we generally feel that the consultants are responsible for what is possible, as they have to ensure that the business plan makes sense and is deliverable. Snow rooms are expensive, require large plant space and eat the dollars during operation, so who makes the decision whether this is in, or out? These things have to be in-line with the model and the entire offering or these experiences become redundant.”

    Projects of note

    Boutique Hotel, UK - Stainless Steel Swimming Pool

    With a breadth of successful projects delivered at all ends of the market there must inevitably be some projects of which the company is more than a little satisfied. When asked to offer any examples of projects BW is particularly proud of Barton smiles as he mentions the Mandarin Oriental Residence at One Hyde Park, which was built for Candy and Candy. He says that the 23m x 5m lap pool and spa pool, are all made from bare stainless steel, with Swarovski Crystal Fibre Optic Lighting, and high spec treatment systems, was not only challenging, but for around HK$1.2m metre for metre, must be one of the most expensive pools around. “It really looks great.”

    “There are other significant projects currently in development. These include three Ritz Carlton projects, two in Bali and one in Langkawi. All are very different offerings and all of which shall have pride of place in our portfolio! The Ritz Carlton Sawangan, Bali, will have one of the largest vitality pools we have ever produced, with some great technical features, but I can’t share any more than that until the opening,” he teases.

    With the hotel sector enjoying robust growth throughout Asia and into the Middle East where are BW currently most active? Barton states that, “Dubai is back on with a bang!” He also says that the firm is enjoying great success in South East Asia, in particular Indonesia. China currently represents half of all the business coming into the Hong Kong office, with a particular focus on design. With project implementation in the mainland often being handled by local companies this sees BW providing critical supervision for the installations to ensure the brand’s standards are maintained. He adds that recently Macau has opened up for BW as a new wave of development and refurbishment is underway and he says the firm is delighted to be part of these very large-scale developments.

    Ingredients of a great spa


    “It has to work – simple. Whatever the location, or clientele, or offering, whether the project is a large scale development or small, it has to work,” Barton states emphatically.

    “Consistency is the key to the longevity of our Brand. The latest trend can look gimmicky or even look out-dated very quickly. With Spa taking a large part of a project budget, it can be costly to look at renovation once your installation falls out of fashion. At Barr+Wray we tend to innovate moderately as we enter into new projects, so that over time the market may indeed shift, but we approach all of our projects with a steady focus on what works well today, and what will continue to deliver into the future.”


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