The Real Deal Miami

Planet Beach plans to open 50-plus South Florida spas

By Jennifer LeClaire | June 10, 2008 01:33PM

Planet Beach, a New Orleans-based spa franchisor, has announced plans for rapid expansion through South Florida and commercial real estate brokers say now is the right time to make a move into new markets.

Planet Beach aims to add 50 to 70 locations in Dade, Broward, Hendry and Collier counties in the next 12 months. The ultimate goal is to establish 75 locations in Dade and Broward counties. Planet Beach operates 380 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. As the economy weakens and small businesses close, the company expects to snap up leases in prime locations.

“South Florida is a strategic market for us,” says Stephen Smith, founder and CEO of Planet Beach. “We know outdoor-loving consumers want to keep a healthy glow and pampered skin year-round. In addition, Planet Beach recognizes that Florida is one of the most profitable states for business and entrepreneurs because of its pro-business tax policies.”
Planet Beach operates on the “contempo spa” concept, a hybrid business model Smith developed to unite the tanning and day spa industries. The model also offers skincare solutions in a private, spa-like room with technology-driven machines performing treatments.
“For the majority of our development, we lease space in shopping centers and lifestyle centers, but our concept is flexible enough to fit almost any situation,” says J. Archer, vice president of Franchise Recruitment for Planet Beach.
Archer declined to offer specific cities the franchisor would target within Dade and Broward counties, but did admit to challenges reaching the South Florida goal.
“In Dade County especially, the permitting process has been an issue,” Archer says. “In both counties, the price and availability of quality space is also a challenge.”

But Charles Foschini, senior director of CBRE I Melody’s South Florida office, said there should be plenty of opportunities over the next 12 months. In the Downtown urban core, he noted, new condo space is being delivered, all of which has ground-floor retail. A spa would be an exceptional amenity to any new building, he said.

“Outside the urban core in suburban areas, it is anticipated that as our economies have slowed that some small local tenants may not do as well and that may create lease opportunities in otherwise very desirable locations and centers for a new concept,” Foschini said.

 Planet Beach’s biggest challenge in opening up to 70 locations in South Florida may not be finding suitable locations in South Florida, Foschini said. Rather it may be building a deep enough infrastructure and maintaining the focus necessary to ramp up so quickly.

Despite the weakening economy, J. Archer, Planet Beach’s vice president of franchise recruitment, said the company was confident people would continue paying for spas.

“Since we offer such an affordable and accessible alternative to the traditional day spas, we have had a great response to our concept in Florida,” he said.

Smith said the company is not only looking in the Sunshine State, but beyond U.S. borders.

 “The opening of approximately 50-70 locations in South Florida is the icing on the cake of our domestic expansion,” Smith says. “We are now launching aggressive international expansion as the first contemporary spa franchise to target large-scale entry into Britain, Ireland and various countries throughout Asia.”