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Bringing Up Poland

By: Felicia Brown
Posted: December 31, 2009, from the January 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
The spa at the Hotel Malinowy Zdrój

At the spa at the Hotel Malinowy Zdrój in Solec Zdrój, Poland, spa clients can experience body treatments, wraps, facials and offerings that include natural mineral spring water and peat.

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If the conference itself was any indication of emerging trends, the infusion of spa and wellness cuisine also will soon be on the rise. One of the most engaging and intriguing events I’ve attended at a spa conference anywhere was the healthy cooking demonstration and dinner here. Foods were combined in ways that were delicious yet new to me and the other attendees—a mango-and-broccoli salad in particular was unexpectedly good—and an emphasis on being aware of what we consume was also the focus of a conference lecture that unveiled a healthy slogan and campaign called “I Choose What I Eat.” This is definitely a new concept to many Poles.

Another apparent trend is the development and implementation of a unified spa association and rating process to help determine what services, facilities and characteristics are necessary for a business to use the word spa, especially as the market grows. Similar to what happened in the United States a few years ago, as consumers are demanding more therapeutic services and the term “spa” as a buzzword is catching on, many smaller businesses that lack some of the traditional elements are using the spa moniker and confusing consumers.

“Raising the purchasing expectations and delivering bigger and better services to the spa and wellness market creates the necessity of classifying and reviewing existing spa centers,” says Węglarz. “It also gives the opportunity to create some service standards and determine and define minimal requirements for professional spa centers. Those kinds of classifications will help clients make the proper choices.”

Facing challenges

With all of the positive growth and emerging trends in the Polish spa industry, there are bound to be some problems, too. “As the spa culture develops worldwide, Poland will have an opportunity to position itself as a spa destination, but to do so would require a total effort from the government and a collaboration of the entire tourism industry in that country,” Andrews comments. “It will be difficult for individual businesses to carve a significant presence without governmental support. Spas in Poland will not be better than other European spas, as they are all going pretty much in the same direction. The difference will be in how much is spent on implementing the services.”

When asked what kind of challenges she sees in Polish spas, Bojarska-Ferenc notes, “Personally speaking, as a client, I think that some spa treatments in Poland lack professionalism and technique. This relates mainly to body treatments, maybe because, until recently, there was no massage tradition in Poland, and one of the most popular forms of massage was sports massage.” Polish spa owners, managers and team members will need to be conscientious of these issues, as well as the desires of their spa-going public, as they continue to build the industry into a global presence.

Building an industry