SpaFinder Wellness Reveals Top 10 Spa & Wellness Trends for 2013

SpaFinder Wellness has revealed its 10th annual Trends Report, which forecasts top trends that will impact the spa and wellness industry and shape consumer experiences around the world. 

The forecast is based on ongoing surveys with spa and wellness businesses and stakeholders around the globe, thousands of travel agents and hundreds of thousands of consumers. 

Speaking in New York, Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder Wellness and industry expert, mentioned that "wellness is becoming a huge umbrella" for the spa industry. In particular, countries such as India, with Ayurveda, and Sweden, with its Swedish massage, are promoting their own wellness tourism, she said. 

"I'm very optimistic about the industry" Ellis told Skin Inc. upon releasing the 2013 Trends Report. "As an industry, all of us have to do more to train and improve," she added, noting that effectively training personnel is key. "These experiences depend so much on [the spa personnel]." And in general, she added the industry will benefit from being more scientifically aware.

SpaFinder Wellness 2013 Top 10 Global Spa & Wellness Forecast 

1. Healthy Hotels

The forecast predicts an explosion of new "wellness everywhere" hotel chains and environments becoming more mainstream. In the past, gyms and spas have been positioned as mere amenities, but now these walls are being conceptually (and literally) broken down. Established hotel chains are re-branding around wellness and it's not just about fitness. Customized food and beverage offerings (gluten-free and vegan menus) are becoming standard fare, and hotels are jumping into the juice-themed vacation frenzy. For instance, guests at Kimpton's Hotel Palomar in Chicago can de-stress with a rooftop yoga class and Starwood's Westin has updated its Heavenly Spa concept by allowing its guests to customize their own treatments based on the mood they want to achieve.

2. The Mindfulness Massage

A creative blend of two effective approaches, mindfulness and bodywork, the "Mindfulness Massage" is a more profound experience that can help people relax more deeply and quickly. Used at spas such as Miraval Resort Arizona, this technique uses breath work and techniques such as "body scans," where attention is brought to every part of the body and the action of the therapists' hands. This two-way symphony directed by a therapist who understands mindfulness offers guidance on how to take the massage to a new "mindful" level. 

3. Earthing

As modern-day humans become more cut off from nature, "earthing" specifically refers to the movement promoting direct contact with the earth's electron-rich surface (walking barefoot, etc.). The premise, which is exemplified at the spa Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, is that "grounding" the body to the earth's surface stabilizes natural electrical rhythms and reduces disease-causing inflammation. While forecasters predict more of this formal "earthing" at spas, far more "nature grounding" in a wider sense is also on the rise. Think less background music with nature sounds and more real nature to help combat "nature deficit disorder." In addition, there has been a Japanese trend of "forest bathing," in which city dwellers return to natural settings for respite.

4. Spa-Genomics, Telomeres and Beyond

Humans have 30,000 genes and a three billion-letter DNA code. The future of medicine is mining this information to identify breakthrough approaches to support a new age of predictive, personalized medicine grounded in each person's unique genetic profile. The power of direct-to-consumer genomic testing lies in the potential to pinpoint which diseases/issues could be forestalled by specific lifestyle changes and the spa industry is a natural benefactor of this development. In fact, some studies are showing that telomeres, the only malleable part of DNA, can be repaired by stress-reduction, exercise, sleep, healthier food and meditation.

5. Authentic Ayurveda and Other Ancient Revivals

Expect more aggressively-authentic and comprehensively-executed global wellness experiences at spas with a distinctly ancient look, feel and language—and a far more expansive, exotic menu of wellness traditions. Best known is the 3,500-year-old, Indian-born Ayurveda, a complex medical system identifying imbalances in a person's "doshas," and prescribing a personalized, detoxifying regime of diet change, exercise, meditation, massage and herbal medicine. Expect to see more emphasis on spas creating authentic atmospheres with even ayurvedic doctors at spas. Also to be expected is more traditional Turkish and Roman baths, more traditional Russian banyas (with their birch-twig-thwacking venik experiences) and novel healing traditions, some in spaces with unique "ancient-hip" designs, others built on ancient spa sites or within reclaimed historic buildings like the Nun Assisi Relais & Spa Museum: Assisi (Italy), a former convent which offers a Roman bath within a former first-century Roman amphitheater. 

6. Color Self-Expression

In 2013 "self-expression" will be most intensely played out around color. Expect more in-your-face shades on hair and face from reverse ombre to neon lashes; more body art hitting bodies of every gender and age, performed at new, haute "tattoo spas"; and nail art will continue to ascend with less bling and more nuanced textures and designs from 3D art to freehand mini-paintings.

7. Inclusive Wellness 

The future bodies welcomed at spas will look more like bodies in the real world. With more than one billion people who are formally disabled and a massively graying global population, the industry will shift focus from luxe-pampering to delivering wellness to persons of all age and ability levels. More people will look to spas to heal and keep bodies functional, whether through pain-relieving and mobility enhancing therapies, nutrition advice, or the right forms of "functional fitness" for those with physical limitations or special needs.

8. Label Conscious Fitness

The "name-brand" fitness wave has been around for decades. But today, an explosion of "fitness labels" distinguishes products and programs—and serves as a shortcut for instant recognition in an over-saturated market full of similar choices. From Yogalates and Piloxing to CrossFit and more, health and wellness have become the new luxury as millions chase the "insider elite," giving the fitness world a distinct fashion world vibe. 

9. Men: From Barbers to "Brotox"

Dramatically more men from Beverly Hills, to Berlin, to Beijing are having more serious "work" done at medspas and plastic surgery offices, such as injectables, love handle remedies and advanced new surgery technologies. The forecast expects more spas will build out comprehensive, for-men "beauty" menus male waxing and threading services and man-geared cosmetic procedures.

10. Where the Jobs Are

With the $2 trillion-plus pan-wellness market (spanning fitness, alternative medicine, spa, etc.) continuing to grow, spas reportedly can't find enough people with the right skills to fill spa management/director or therapist jobs. As a result, industry watchers expect expansion in the years ahead as the world continues its shift from a manufacturing to a service economy. 

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