SpaFinder recently announced its prediction of 2008 spa industry trends.
10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2008:
The “Feng Shui’d” Gym – Goodbye, mirrored walls and fluorescent lighting; hello waterfalls, fine art and, more generally, the kind of soul-stirring design and ambience for which spas have become famous.
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A Star (Therapist) Is Born – A spa treatment is only as good as the therapist who provides it, yet for years consumers have been dazzled by a spa’s emphasis on features and services. Look for that to change as increasingly savvy spa-goers come to seek out and reward talented therapists.
Wellness, Wellness, Wellness – Wellness may end up becoming the next trillion-dollar revolution, and it’s becoming increasingly central to the spa experience, with fitness, nutrition, education, as well as alternative practices such as energy medicine, reiki, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all becoming important aspects of “spa.”
Luxury Detox and Luxury Bootcamps – Detox programs and weight loss bootcamps have long been associated with deprivation, suffering – even penitence. But many spas are beginning to treat them less as “punishments” and more as celebrations. After all, if you can get the same results with high thread count sheets, spa treatments and a sense of community, why not live a little while you’re trying to improve your life?
Spa Real Estate Mania – Since 2004, the number of residence communities with a spa/healthy living component has grown from a handful to more than 250. And the company predicts that number will surpass 300 well before the end of 2008, as health-focused baby boomers look to downsize and younger families are drawn by the prospect of healthy activities for the kids. The global real estate market downturn, ironically, may also be a factor, as developers look to differentiate their offerings and target more affluent buyers.
Taking Sleep Seriously … Especially if you Want to Lose Weight – With recent studies highlighting the importance of sleep for everything from improved productivity at work to cardiovascular health, SpaFinder forecasts that sleep will be taken even more seriously in the year ahead. Tipping the scales (so to speak) will be new research revealing that healthy sleep is necessary for weight loss.
Look for more hotel spas to bring in sleep directors, more destination spas to offer sleep programs (including medically guided sleep analysis), and more day spas to offer “snoozing zones” and creative massage scheduling that allows therapists to say, “stay on the table for as long as you like.”
Fertility Tranquility – Spas are beginning to offer treatments and diet regimes designed to boost fertility. Examples include the Program for Infertility at The Raj Ayurvedic Spa in Iowa, the Ritual de Fertilidad at the Tides Riviera Maya (where an ancient fertility ritual is simulated in their special “Maya House of Fertility” treatment room), the Lunaception Treatment at the Qua Spa at Caesar’s Palace, and Fertility Reflexology and Fertility Yoga at The Spa at Little Dix Bay. Fertility-oriented acupuncture is becoming especially popular as a natural alternative for couples worried about the health effects of fertility hormones.
Hydro and Thermal Super-Experiences – The European tradition of alternating hydro/thermal experiences is catching on worldwide and being interpreted in new and often spectacular ways. Witness the new Banyan Tree Spa Bahrain, purporting to be the Middle East’s largest spa (for now) and one of the world’s most extensive hydrothermal gardens. There the spa adventures include a rain mist shower, samarium, monsoon shower experience (“Summer Storm” or “Arctic Winter”), grotto steam, affusion shower, ice igloo, pelotherapy chamber, bucket drench shower, sole therapy, tropical shower experience (“Caribbean Rain,” “Spring Rain” or “Polar Rain”), an herbal ceramic sauna, brine cavern (steam and salt), and a huge hydrotheramal garden vitality pool with numerous aqua jet seats, bubble air beds and water geysers.
Urban Spa Explorer – Increasingly, young urbanites are taking a “rough guide” approach to spa-going, moving beyond high-end spas to explore the vibrant melting pot of (largely immigrant-run) spas – from Russian and Korean baths to Thai massage parlors – that are popping up in many American and European cities.
Although these businesses may seem off limits to some, the best of them offer authentic indigenous treatments, expert therapists, low prices and clean facilities. As they’re discovered by trend-setters, they’ll become more popular, larger, more beautiful, etc. – in other words, part of the “official” spa industry. In 2008 and beyond, this process will add a new dimension to the industry’s growth.
Plug-in or Unplug: It’s up to You – Is it more relaxing to go to a spa and stay plugged in or to unplug and get away from it all? From a spa’s point of view, should clients be allowed to be on their Blackberrys during a foot reflexology session, or should they ban connection devices from their relaxation room? Both are subjective calls, so it’s fitting that the trend will be toward a bespoke solution for customers – another way to customize the spa experience.
So the next time you’re at a spa, don’t be surprised if the customary questions like “male or female?” and “lavender or ginger?” are followed by a new option: “plugged or unplugged?