A Day Trip to Saaremaa – The Spa Island of Estonia

Saaremaa Has More Spas Than Anywhere In Estonia

Two weeks ago, our Wellness and Spa Service Quality Management class went on a day trip to the islands of  Saaremaa and Muhu. These are the most popular holiday destinations in Estonia, loved for their folklore, deserted beaches, culture and spa retreats.

The goal of the study visit was to catch a glimpse of the main business ideas and quality approaches of the spa hotels. We were tasked with making a report describing their quality management approaches and activities, identifying their key positive and negative aspects related to the quality, and verifying their implementation of quality management theories in practice.

And so, we headed with gusto to sightsee what the islands can offer. It was good to know that Estonia’s first mud baths were established in Saaremaa during the first half of the 19th century, since the sea mud in Kihelkonna has very good therapeutic features. The use of local mud was neglected later on, but recently it’s gaining back its reputation as a good remedy for joint problems.

Today, there are nine spa hotels of different profiles in Saaremaa. Seven of them are located in Kuressaare, one in Mändjala village and one on Muhu island. All of them offer treatments and wellness services all year round. This includes hundreds of different relaxing treatments like shaping massages, juniper treatments, caressing wrapping and many more with different saunas too.

Georg Ots Spa Hotel Never Says No

On our first stop, we visited Georg Ots Spa Hotel, located near the medieval castle in the heart of Kuressaare. This hotel houses a total of 92 rooms, and the room rate includes a buffet breakfast, group exercise sessions, use of the gym and unlimited use of the pools and saunas. Their spa centre includes a Finnish sauna, a steam sauna, a samarium, an Estonian sauna, a variety of plunge pools, a fitness room, and an infrared sauna. It’s a family-friendly spa hotel, offering rooms especially for couples with children.

I learned that the Georg Ots Spa Hotel never says no to solving a problem in running their business, whatever the problem is (from setting the rooms to comfortably accommodate the families, to organizing active training classes for moms-to-be and babies, to encouraging children to learn good habits through an stamp reward game) because “no” means a failure in executing their best practices.

Instead of saying no, they offer something else. They provide alternatives if they can’t give what the guests want. There is always a way to leave their clients (from parents, kids, to pets) happy, no matter if they can or cannot address an initial request or need.

Pädaste Manor Values Customer Loyalty

On our last stop, we visited Pädaste Manor on the island of Muhu. This manor is centuries old and it is the only five-star hotel outside Tallinn. The fully renovated manor complex has been turned into a luxury hotel and a spa complex, offering 24 differently decorated rooms, starting with cozy rooms in the coach house and ending with stately rooms in the manor house. Their spa experience is all about achieving harmony of the senses. All treatments are based on local traditions dating back centuries, with all ingredients from untouched natural landscape of the island.
I learned that Pädaste Manor values customer loyalty. Because their clients always have a choice of where to take their luxury vacation, most often it is wherever they feel more comfortable. Price is only one factor in their decision-making process.

Quality service is how Pädaste Manor makes their clients feel at home, and the whole customer experience (from the staff, accommodation, food, spa treatments, to the ambiance) when they’re in the property is how they make them come back for more. It is these factors that trump price. If the guests enjoy staying with them, they will continue to do so and will always be happy to pay for it.

Check Out The Island Life When You Can

We had several other activities during the learning excursion but I prefer to share the highlights related to my studies. I am always grateful for the opportunities to travel around Estonia and have access to all these behind-the-scenes operations of the best spa hotels in the country.

If ever you want to go to Saaremaa, the most common way to arrive is by taking a bus from Tallinn, Tartu or Pärnu. The bus crosses from the mainland to Muhu Island, which is connected to Saaremaa by a bridge. The ferry ride takes approximately 25 minutes.

For more information, kindly check www.visitsaaremaa.ee. Bon voyage!

Written and Photos By:
Fiona Jade Lim (Philippines)
MA in Wellness and Spa Service Design Management

*This blog was posted originally for International Student Ambassadors – University of Tartu

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