Since the pandemic, the hospitality industry has undergone a rapid evolution, due entirely to the changing behaviors and sentiments of travelers in the wake of COVID (especially in the realm of wellness spaces). Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Springs is no exception. Having been known for its mineral springs, mud baths and its founders’ signature approach to wellness since the 1950s, the hot spring hotel and spa recently underwent a total redesign of both its brand and the guest experience with multidisciplinary design firm CONTINO leading the project.
Design Blends Location and Legacy to Connect with Guests
For Jon Contino, CONTINO Founder and CCO, he saw the project as an opportunity to redefine the relationship between hospitality and wellness. As such, he and the team pursued a design that would help build a more human connection with customers.
“We wanted to create a sense of discovery and attract a strong community around this whole new, unique vibe – something that people could brag about to their friends. It needed to feel high end but affordable and have a ton of personality,” said Contino.
Here, the firm took inspiration from the property itself, layering historical legacies and modern day style to capture the true spirit of the property. Natural textures like warm mineral water, steamy mud baths, cushioned grass, gentle winds and the rough grit of original mosaic artworks hand-made in cement by founder John Wilkinson’s wife and partner Edy set the backdrop of the space.
It’s a complete refresh of the design, Contino says, adding a feel to the space that is “very loose and organic, very gestural. From the murals and background elements to the water-like patterns to the wispy, raw yet balanced feel of the illustrations showing abstracted figures relaxing – everything needed to feel casual and stress-free.
“We wanted to represent the actual elements that make Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs unique, giving everything a feeling of clay and ash, the movement of the relaxing hot water and the textures of the mud. To us, a representation of what you actually experience in this place seemed so much more effective than just trying to mimic another high-end spa.”
Empowering Sustainable Wellness Lifestyles
Central to the new design was also the onsite nutritional offerings, the branding and representation of the resort and the after-spa experience for guests. Leading the branding design for both the onsite café and the retail arm of the resort, CONTINO followed through in translating the escapism of the resort experience into a sustainable lifestyle image guests can take home with them.
Known as the House of Better, the café offers ‘health food meets comfort food,’ a base that gives plenty of play for CONTINO’s design work. Collaborative spa products, such as bath salts and at home spa treatments also receive their own custom packaging, bridging the gap between the resort and the home for guests who wish to continue their treatments on their own time.
“Boutique establishments like Dr. Wilkinson ’s have the ability to really create memorable experiences that push the entire industry to new creative heights,” said Contino. “The way the brand speaks to its guests, the way it thinks about all the minor details that create an experience – all of this is so important to creating a legacy of loyalty, and now Dr. Wilkinson’s has that foundation to build from. And it’s already working – people are loving the new experience and guests are very into the merchandise we designed. This project proves exactly what we had hoped — creativity can be a business benefit in the world of spa resorts.”