Spa box builds Perry Cabin’s revenue, relationships

GOSTELOW REPORT—“Mother’s Day was the impetus to trial our to-go Perry Box To-Go spa concept, and the idea has really taken off,” says Michael Hoffmann, managing director of Perry Cabin Resorts and Golf, on the outskirts of St. Michaels, Maryland. “Honestly, after we closed our 78 bedrooms on 13 March, until earlier this month The Perry Box has represented 100% of spa revenue.”

The hotel was closed, as were all other facilities, which include a par-72 18-hole Links course re-imagined by the family of the late Peter Dye, plus a Jim McLean golf academy, eight HD golf simulators offering play on over 350 world courses, and sailing, kayaking and croquet. 

Even the seven-room Perry Cabin Spa, a two-floor white clapboard house 100 yards from the main entrance to the resort, was dark. These buildings date back over two centuries to 1816, when Samuel Hambleton, a purser during the war of 1812 and one-time aide de camp to Commodore Oliver Perry, built an inn with various featured modeled after Perry’s cabin on the USS Niagara. 

Michael Hoffmann hands over a pre-ordered Perry Box To-Go
Michael Hoffmann hands over a pre-ordered Perry Box To-Go

Like all the resort’s 150-strong core team, Spa Director Emily Richey was furloughed. With time on her hands, she dreamed up a do-it-yourself wellness kit. She used the spa’s Phytomer products, wrapped in blue and white tissue paper with logos, in sturdy, disposable cardboard boxes.

“We initially had three boxes on offer, costing between US$30 and US$90, but we found mid-price was most popular, so we switched to two choices, at US$40 and US$60, with an alternative to design your own, à la carte. Obviously, Mother’s Day was prime reason for initial purchases, but one client who bought a box called back and ordered more for friends plus additional items for herself.”

To-Go Perry Boxes were offered through electronic mail to the resort’s own database, and they were also promoted on social media. They could be picked up curbside by clients or mailed.

“The Perry box is a great opportunity to move spa inventory, stay in touch with our client base and continue to build engagement as an all-round wellness business. It has certainly kept Emily Richey on her toes, and working, which is a great accomplishment in these times,” explained Hoffmann.

With the full support of ownership — Capital Properties, which also has Chatham Bars Inn in Massachusetts — he was able to re-invent The Inn at Perry Cabin’s business proposition.

“One of our key words is ‘pivot,’ for all things that need to be re-directed, changed, re-evaluated and re-visited at a moment’s notice. Now, having tested the waters for products to go, we will continue to launch Boxes. I see them mostly being wellness- or giftbox-themed, for resort guests and as memorable giveaways. This coming weekend we are offering ‘customize your own Father’s Perry Box To-Go,’ with such suggestions and shirts and hats, and wellness products for men,” he said.

Hoffmann knew it was vital to keep his team motivated throughout closure. “Everyone is on Zoom or MS-Teams, and we stay connected. Every day, an executive committee member has been highlighting one of our pillars – integrity, service, professionalism and respect, teamwork and results. That person speaks about the pillar’s value and shares a suitable quote, leading on to a theme song for the day so that people can dance, and have fun.”

Now that motivation continues to the re-opening phase: Staff began to return 28 May, but for two weekends, starting 6 June, the resort operated only Thursday through Sunday nights, limited capacity based on restrictions. This next weekend will be maximum 60 keys, with full occupancy, seven days a week, from 25 June. The local health department has also announced Perry Spa can open from this Thursday.

“The first weekend, 94% of guests drove, maximum 3.5 hours, which includes the D.C. metropolis. Of that number, two-thirds stayed for two nights and just under half of the total were return guests. The weather was glorious, which led to heavy focus on outdoors, including record attendance on the golf course.”

What has been Hoffmann’s biggest take away from the Perry Box idea? “We are in a business that is built on connections, now more important than ever before, and keeping those alive, active and genuinely engaged is key to having your team perform really well even when it’s tough,” he explained.