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SpaFinder Predicts 2009 Spa Trends

Posted: December 29, 2008

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Stress is the big spa buzzword. At, for example, nearly four times as many consumers entered stress into the search bar in the last four months than in the four months prior. Spas, out of necessity, will increasingly become learning labs for stress reduction as consumers realize it takes less than an hour, or a ton of expensive treatments, to elicit the relaxation response. Look for spa staff to become teachers of take-home, DIY relaxation techniques, as well as a shift from trendy spa rituals-of-the-month to effective stress therapies like breathwork, hot baths, meditation, exercise, massage and even an emphasis on psychological support and the sharing of feelings. Mini-treatments like ten-minute chair massages will grow in popularity. Look for more day spas to incorporate the term stress in their offerings and more stay spa programming like Miraval’s 'Mindful Stress Mastery’ experience, a complete stress-fighting curriculum. We’ll also see more spas with soul, focusing on connection, community and spirituality, and unleashing new programming such as life coaching, transition retreats, and mindfulness experiences and challenge courses like labyrinths. And don’t be surprised if a slow spa movement takes off.

8. Mindful Spending

In a challenging economic year, spa-goers will be looking closely for value and tangible results. Spas will be experimenting with creative ways to attract the consumer, earn their trust and exceed their expectations. Look for concepts such daycations and spacations to move from vague catch phrases to realities. Discount massage and facial businesses will enjoy more popularity, and spa deals and added value pricing will appear on most spa Web sites. Luxury facilities will need to work harder demonstrating how their unique experiences and special treatments merit the greater expense. We will also likely see three- and four-star hotels, where more people will be staying, get into the spa arena with competitive spa service offerings. Spas at these locations will be aiming to help first-time visitors feel welcome and comfortable, bringing many new lifelong spa customers into the industry.

9. Move Over Baby Boomers: Gen X & Y Are Spaing Their Way Up

The core spa clientele is rapidly shifting from baby boomers to Gen X and Gen Y, and it’s more than a simple demographic switch: younger generations are now hitting the spa in record numbers, and they're shaping the experience to meet their unique desires. Spas will need to continue to attract aging boomers, with their considerable spending power, while catering to new generations who typically reject pampering, embrace wellness and consider spa-going a natural right. To compete, spas will need to rethink everything from design, treatment menus and standards for use of personal communication devices. Some spas are now allowing iPod usage during massages, are adding party-size treatment rooms and trumpeting philanthropic endeavors and their commitment to sustainability. All spas will learn to embrace technology, including encouraging online bookings through sites or sending mobile alerts when last-minute spa deals become available. Cutting-edge experiments can be seen at the new Ciel-Spa at SLS in Beverly Hills with its playful social lounge experience and a myriad of light and technology options, or Zurich’s forthcoming spa at the Dolder Grand featuring chill-out spaces with suspended basket chairs with headphones and quirky features such as a snow paradise room or lounges where people can bury themselves in heated pebbles.