5 questions for Ray Williams, Regional Vice President of KSL Resorts
Tell us about KSL’s recent partnership with Canyon Ranch at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.
Homestead is one of those famous old resorts that has been around for a long time; it’s a great place with a lot of history and tradition. We wanted to see if there was a relationship that would add a new dimension to the spa experience, and we were fortunate enough to form one with Canyon Ranch. They are also focused on the wellbeing of the individual’s nutrition, health, and fitness. The spa’s signature feature will be Aquavana, a European-inspired aquathermal oasis with experiential rains, a chill room, and crystal steam room focused on the ancient concept of ‘healing by water.’
Another new project in your portfolio is La Costa Resort and Spa (shown) in Carlsbad, California, recently redone by ForrestPerkins.
After a $50 million property-wide renovation, the Spa at La Costa redefined its purpose with a recommitment to the elements of nature. The new experience is infused with indigenous ingredients, such as Carlsbad strawberries and spa-grown rosemary.
For a spa renovation like La Costa, what are you asking yourselves from an operations standpoint?
When we looked at the different color combinations and fabrics, we were answering questions like ‘Does our customer change?’ ‘What will our customer be looking for?’ We have a spa café, but what should the menu items look like? It’s one thing to eat healthy food, it’s another thing to eat healthy food and really enjoy it.
KSL uses a variety of designers. What are you looking for in a design team?
It starts with finding someone who can come in and look at a space and have a vision for it that is consistent with where you want to take it. You want people who are current, enthusiastic, who capture your imagination the best. I like to see the lens through which they look at the resort. For instance, at La Costa I spent a day walking the various spaces and hearing their reactions to the directions we were going. That to me is invaluable: if the design doesn’t fulfill our agenda, no matter how great, it’s not going to be successful.
What do you think sets KSL apart?
I love the properties we buy; they are one of a kind. You can’t duplicate a Del Coronado.