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In 2007, teams at Thomson Holidays – part of the world’s largest tour operator, TUI – were tasked with designing a new 5* proposition in an already crowded market.
The concept needed to differentiate Thomson, providing affordable luxurious accommodation, top class spas, high-end dining and excellent locations as the norm.
Thomson’s Product Development and Delivery teams were always impressed when ted had supplied live entertainment and bespoke children’s characters for them before.
How would we at ted approach this new concept?
Within weeks, we’d proposed Sensatori, luxury holidays to stimulate the five senses. We visualized a Sensatori holiday as a positive experience, one where the senses would be aroused to the extent of ‘satori’, contentment. (The dictionary definition is actually “a state of sudden enlightenment”.) The word “Sensatori” was borne out of this – a word that perfectly captured the vision and felt unique and intriguing.
A bespoke name was a highly valuable marketing tool for Thomson.
In developing the idea, we needed to create something more than just a hotel spa break. Relaxation on its own wasn’t enough. In the same way an activities-based hotel where people’s ‘satori’ could only be achieved through sports and games with healthy eating on the menu wasn’t either. Instead we saw this as a balance throughout the whole holiday experience.
At the heart of Sensatori would be freedom of choice for everyone. And ted designed a range of core values for the brand, namely:
Using the sports bar as its hub, World of Sport offered a range of activities from football coaching, tennis, basketball, beach volleyball, water sports, archery etc. From children to grandparents, everyone would find something in which they could participate.
For those who wanted a non-competitive sporting environment, there would be activities such as mountain biking, kayaking or scuba diving.
An impressive spa would be the essential ingredient in the Sensatori experience. No atmosphere of exclusion here or pricey treatments. Nor would it be nearly always empty. The Sensatori spa would offer imaginative treatments and innovative classes for all – whole mornings of the week could be dedicated to men, or mums and daughters; an evening session might offer affordable treatments for the girls before their night out.
In a ground-breaking move, even the toddlers would have their senses awakened and stimulated on holiday. The Playhouse recognised everyone’s desire to play. For the tots there was a fully qualified nursery with a range of sensory development features and a themed sleeping area. For the kids, the kid’s club run by fully qualified staff, would find children revelling in the Kid’s Kitchen and Silly Science Lab, the stage area or the arts and crafts studio.
While this covered what you could do on a Sensatori holiday, it didn’t touch on the multitude of other important elements to the Sensatori experience. So to complete their Sensatori experience, the following would provide a wide range of sensory activation:
Specially commissioned pieces of art that were inspired by the senses would add visual touches around public areas and the Spa. Detail like this would be another stand out feature that set these hotels apart, even down to our signature fragrance oil that burnt in the Spa and across the resort.
Abundant water features, ranging from inter-connected pools including a lagoon area, through to pools for traditional kids’ play, serious swimmers, casual relaxers and also adults only located centrally in the hotel, would play a key role in the design of the complex as well as the Sensatori experience.
In tailoring the Sensatori evening experience, we recognised there was a transition of moods from day to night as guests generally retired to their rooms in late afternoon to prepare for an equally relaxed, yet entertaining, affair when the sun went down.
To begin with, guests would be provided with the ultimate dining experience. With six separate and distinct restaurants, the freedom of food choice meant nobody would have to eat the same food in the same restaurant every night.
Entertainment was key of course. The concept of Sensatori entertainment would be very much an opt-in style. Designed with two stage venues, guests would be able to choose to watch high quality stage theatre or comedy, jazz and piano themes. Impromptu events and activities would also provide a spontaneous feel to entertainment, whether this was on the beach illuminated by torchlight, or as part of a dining experience.
And to keep that Sensatori balance at all times, the four core areas would also be available for those guests who wanted to continue floodlit sporting activities, enjoy an early evening Spa session, take a stroll to a nearby village or have their children entertained so they could enjoy some quality time together over dinner perhaps.
In 2008, Thomson put Sensatori holidays on sale for bookings at it’s first Sensatori Resort in Crete. It was an immediate success.
Not only did Sensatori achieve the status of being the fastest-selling concept ever for the company, by 2016 Sensatori is still one of the most prestigious TUI brands, now with 10 resorts, in which we have been instrumental in designing, developing, and training staff.
ted remains integral to the ongoing development of this massive brand, which has continued to evolve and is now a byword for affordable luxury. Over the years ted has set the benchmark for a package of diverse, engaging and quality daytime sports and wellbeing programs and evening entertainment that continues to delight the ever-growing expectations of the Sensatori customers.