• Transform magazine
  • May 18, 2022

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CONTINO redesigns Californian boutique luxury resort

Dr. Wilkinson’S Gestural Bodies

Brand and design studio, CONTINO, worked with resort owner, Chartres Lodging Group, to develop a new design for boutique luxury resort Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs.

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With the aim of rethinking the entire brand experience, the new identity seeks to transform the resort into a luxurious, retail-supported vision for the future of the hospitality industry. For CONTINO founder and CCO, Jon Contino, the rebrand was an opportunity to redefine hospitality and wellness, and build a more human connection with customers.

“We wanted to create a sense of discovery and attract a strong community around this whole new, unique vibe – something that people could brag about to their friends. It needed to feel high end but affordable and have a ton of personality,” he says.

CONTINO took inspiration from the property itself and looked through several historical photos, writings, and ads to retain the original quirky artistic flourishes made by John Wilkinson’s wife and partner. The final identity was inspired by the natural textures surrounding the hotel, such as the warm mineral waters, steamy mud baths, grass and rough grit of the painted cement.

The result reimagines the Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs brand experience. This includes a new logo based on a rebranded version of the classic script type used in the famous hotel neon sign, and a refresh of all of the resort’s design elements, such as icons, patterns, murals, and illustrations.

“We wanted everything to feel very loose and organic, very gestural. From the murals and background elements to the water-like patterns to the wispy, raw yet balanced feel of the illustrations showing abstracted figures relaxing – everything needed to feel casual and stress-free,” says Contino.
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The agency was also tasked with redesigning how guests experience and move through the resort, educating them through wayfinding and signage to inform spa newcomers. Creating the best guest experience also meant the new brand had to focus on food and retail experiences, both staples of a modern wellness industry. Contino led the branding for cafe House of Better and designed custom packaging for collaborative spa products, including bath salts and at-home spa treatments, blankets, towels, clothing, and water bottles.

“You want your guests to have an experience at your property – to feel like it’s a lifestyle choice. So, it was crucial to allow them to buy into the brand the same way they would a clothing company. We wanted guests to take the brand home with them,” Contino says.

With every creative decision, CONTINO attempted to sidestep the white and clean cliched trends in the space. “We wanted to represent the actual elements that make Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs unique, giving everything a feeling of clay and ash, the movement of the relaxing hot water and the textures of the mud. To us, a representation of what you actually experience in this place seemed so much more effective than just trying to mimic another high-end spa,” Contino says.

“Boutique establishments like Dr. Wilkinson ’s have the ability to really create memorable experiences that push the entire industry to new creative heights. The way the brand speaks to its guests, the way it thinks about all the minor details that create an experience – all of this is so important to creating a legacy of loyalty, and now Dr. Wilkinson’s has that foundation to build from. Creativity can be a business benefit in the world of spa resorts,” adds Contino.
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