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South African Spa Industry Matures

By: Denis Gathanju
Posted: April 28, 2010, from the May 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Librisa Spa treatment room

Indigenous essences are often used in the services offered at Librisa Spa.

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Librisa Spa at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town. Housed in three original late-Victorian buildings, the spa combines timeless elegance and contemporary style, and offers unique details, such as sensation showers and heated marble slabs. Along with using local product lines—Africology and Victorian Garden—the spa menu features five different spa experiences, as well as treatments including the African Goddess Facial and the African Wellbeing Treatment. The facial is a therapeutic journey meant to capture the healing essence of Africa, and the African Wellbeing Treatment uses indigenous essences, such as mountain buchu and lavender, to soothe the senses.

The Rose Well Spa & Guest House, Magaliesburg. Set two kilometers from the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, the property bills itself as a weekend getaway in the country for couples and friends. The guest house features seven rooms, and the spa offers deep pampering packages, detoxification and cellulite wraps, manicures, pedicures, facials and various types of massage, including manual lymph drainage and hot stone. According to Dorothy Marsden, proprietor of The Rose Well Spa & Guest House, the spa has been known to appeal to many local couples who are attracted by its signature treatment, which allows clients to exfoliate each other with Dead Sea salts before they dip into the spas’ unique mineral therapy ponds for approximately 15 minutes to remineralize and revitalize their skin cells.

Zau Spa, Cullinan. This relaxation spa, situated about 30 minutes from Pretoria and 60 minutes from Johannesburg, provides an escape from the rigors of daily life. Zau is the Arabic word for “peace,” which is this spa’s goal for each client. Cullinan is an old mining town where one of the world’s largest diamonds was found, and Zau Spa capitalizes on this history by being housed in an old mine house surrounded by gardens and overlooking Cullinan dam. Along with an interesting and historic location, the spa offers full- and half-day packages that are customized to a spa-goer’s specific needs. Meals are also offered featuring fresh, organic produce, and the spa utilizes natural, eco-friendly products that are not tested on animals. The facility uses minimal power from the national grid system because it generates solar power to heat its pool and water.

World Cup growth projections

According to an industry report published in October 2009 by independent research company Intelligent Spas, the South African spa industry registered a 2% increase in 2008, compared to 2007. “The South African spa market is performing relatively well despite the global economic slowdown, and spa owners and managers have a positive outlook. This updated research identifies key differences in the performance of day spas, hotel spas and resort spas, which are critical for each type of operator to understand,” states Julie Garrow, managing director of Intelligent Spas.

The report indicates that women are the most frequent visitors to the country’s spas, accounting for more than 70% of the total spa visits made last year. Many, according to Garrow, were made to the day spas, which have recorded more visits than hotel and resort spas. However, hotel and resort spas generated more revenue than day spas, ostensibly because standard spa services offered at these establishments are higher than those quoted at day spas.