SpaFinder Wellness 365: Spa & Wellness Trends for 2015


Spafinder Wellness 365 released its 12th report on the top 10 spa and wellness trends set to unfold in 2015 and beyond. In the sea of trends lists appearing each new year, the company’s definitive spa and wellness industry forecast is unique for taking a global view of what’s trending across the wellness landscape—including spa experiences, fitness, beauty, travel, nutrition and corporate wellness—and for providing in-depth information about each trend.

“In our 12 years of trend-tracking, we have never seen spa/wellness concepts go so deep and global, be so meaningful and move in so many surprising, provocative directions,” said Spafinder Wellness, Inc. chief brand officer Mia Kyricos, who helped steer the research team, along with Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder. “Our goal is to provide an in-depth resource and help the industry make informed decisions by analyzing the social, cultural and economic shifts that fuel each trend.”

One trend that stood out as largely unthinkable even a few years back is the increasing adoption of cannabis as a source for healing ingredients and treatments. As a wave of medical/recreational marijuana legalization sweeps across the United States (soon in Uruguay and likely other global regions), cannabis is getting a “wellness makeover,” with new spa, beauty, travel and yoga applications.

The trends also take an unexpected turn, with wellness traditions from Islamic worlds ascending, and food and beauty ingredients and spa experiences from regions like the Middle East and Africa set to grab headlines. And there is a search for simplicity, with everything from retreats where silence comprises “Beyond the Stars” experiences to new master-planned “Wellness Communities & Cities” with “front porch” values like walking to work/school and growing one’s food. And in the “My Fitness. My Tribe. My Life.” trend, we see how boutique fitness/yoga will continue to transform the very ways people live, socialize, dress and travel by answering basic human needs for true community in an age of loneliness.

The report is developed by Spafinder Wellness, Inc. research director Beth McGroarty and Spafinder Wellness 365’s team of researchers, editors and industry experts. It is based on surveys with the company’s large network of consumers, travel agents and spa/wellness businesses conducted over the last year.

Read ahead for the top global spa and wellness trends for 2015.

1. Forest bathing: Mindfulness meets nature

The Japanese concept of forest bathing (“shinrin-yoku’) has nothing to do with water. It revolves around a deceptively simple practice: quietly walking, with a mind intent on the sounds, scents, colors and “feel” of the forest. Poetic? Yes. But it’s the medical evidence that’s taking it global: Chemicals that trees emit (phytoncides) show a long-lasting impact on people’s immune system markers. Look for more “forest therapy” trails, more doctors prescribing time in forests, more forest bathing programming at spa retreats and more chic “wild forest/nature” resorts, with seemingly as many wilderness guides as in national parks.

Check out: Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee debuted their new “Deep Healing Woods” program and the stunning Treehotel in Sweden focuses on “the significance of trees for human beings.”

2. Cannabis: New spa and wellness connections

A wave of medical/recreational marijuana legalization is sweeping the United States—globally, Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize recreational usage in 2015. The upshot: An explosive “cannabusiness” market, giving this ancient, medicinal plant an upscale makeover. It’s moving from “dorm room to boardroom,” and new spa/wellness cannabis connections are proliferating. Look for more marijuana dispensaries adopting the look/services of spas; more cannabis “wellness tourism” with luxury spa experiences; new cannabis-branded day spas; more spas using non-high-inducing pain-relieving topicals and beauty products—and hemp seed and milk as hot superfoods.

Check out: One of the many spa-like dispensaries, such as Harborside Health Center in Oakland and San Jose, California, and Primal Wellness, the first “cannabis day spa” in Englewood, Colorado, and yoganja classes at House of Yoga in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

3. Wellness traditions from the Islamic world: Beyond hammams and argan oil

The world has been strikingly unable to “see” what the wellness traditions of the Islamic world offer (stretching from the Middle East to Africa and Asia), with its advanced food-as-medicine, and nature-based beauty and healing practices, refined for 1,000 years. But we predict more people will seek nutritional, beauty and “spa” traditions central to Islamic cultures in years ahead. Middle Eastern and African spices, grains and fruits will be the buzzed-about “superfoods,” ingredients used for both food and beauty—from camel’s milk to baobob fruit—will trend and spas will offer more experiences like rasul/mud treatments and sand bathing.

Check out: Blackseed-infused, Senegalese skin care line, Tiossan, the “Baobob Feel Good” treatment at London’s K West Hotel & Spa and the planned Zulal Destination Spa in Doha, Qatar, 2017), the first retreat to immerse guests in the well-being traditions from across the Islamic world.

4. Industrial revolution: Blue collar wellness

Free massage breaks for garment workers at a factory in Sri Lanka. A smartphone app connected to a wellness program at headquarters reminds long-haul truck drivers of healthy menu options. These aren't happening yet—and the first wave of workplace wellness programs has focused narrowly on white-collar, management employees. But as employers battle the chronic disease, obesity, pain and musculoskeletal, and mental disabilities that can hit “blue collar” workers the hardest expect to see more wellness programs designed for them in the future—and a greater openness to participation by these workers.

Check out: Volkswagen's "industrial athlete" fitness program and the results of PPG's " Creating a Culture of Health Initiative" offered at manufacturing sites worldwide.

5. Wellness homes, communities and cities

In 2007 Spafinder named “spa real estate” a top trend…then the recession hit, and most “live-at-the-spa” developments crashed too. Now the wellness living market is roaring back but new developments take the concept of a healthy home much further. Delos Signature Homes (United States) “bakes in” dozens of wellness features: from air/water purification systems to circadian rhythm lighting. Entire towns/cities are master-planned around a 365-degree concept of wellness, and a new, global “Well Building Standard” aims to do for human health in the built environment what LEED did for sustainable building—and not just for homes, but offices, schools and hospitals. After centuries of real estate development myopically focused on “curb appeal,” now health is the new wealth.

Check out: Lake Nona, a vast wellness community in Orlando, Florida, offering every aspect of a “well-lived” life, or Avira Medini in Johor, Malaysia, 2015, where every generation lives “in the heart of wellness.”

6. My fitness. My tribe. My life: Super-social fitness

This trend takes a timeout from the manic “rowing is the new spinning” breed of trend-spotting to ponder a new sociocultural reality: More people’s boutique fitness brand/studio has become their “life.” Social fitness defines who you know, what you wear, where you travel—even how you raise your kids. But it’s a global loneliness epidemic, fueled by a surge in urbanization, single-person households, longer work hours, and lives spent in front of screens that will continue to spur the new directions for the “my fitness is my family” uber-trend.

Check out: Booze-less morning dance-fitness parties like Morning Gloryville in London or Daybreaker in Los Angeles.

7. Spa on arrival (and en route): The new travel ritual

It used to be that with vacation and business travel, spa treatments were perceived as a luxurious add-on. Now the new travel ritual is treatments—and other fitness/wellness experiences—done right at arrival, or en route at airports, to fight jetlag or to kick-start productivity. We’ll see the spa/wellness explosion at airports continue to take off; more hotels/spa resorts serving up free massages at check-in; more online apps and concierges that make booking on-arrival massages/classes easy; and more spas open later, earlier, and even 24/7.

Check out: Cheval Blanc Randheli's, Noonu Atoll, Maldives, free “Jet Lag Recovery” massage that kicks off all guest stay and an example of the new, superfine, public airport spas—Sha Wellness Clinic in El Albir, Alicante, Spain, one of the world’s top wellness retreats, is opening spas this March at the Madrid airport.

8. Hyperpersonalized beauty: Made-for-me will matter more

We’re no longer just consumers, we’re collaborators. In 2015 look for a shift from “this color looks good on me,” to “this color was made for me,” from “is this moisturizer the best for my skin?” to “this moisturizer is perfectly formulated for me.” In every corner of beauty care new opportunities to customize our primping and self-care experience will arise. We’ll see more beauty brands using in-store computer technology to create personalized solutions, more online skin coaching and more spas will let clients create bespoke everything.

Check out: Skin Authority’s online “Skin Coach on Demand” program, Mink, a personal 3D makeup printer using cosmetic-grade inks or Sha Wellness Clinic, El Albir, Alicante, Spain, where DNA testing identifies the right nutrients for your skin.

9. Gut reaction

“Listen to your gut…” usually means follow your best instincts, but it is one of the hottest trends for 2015. Look for an ongoing focus on the science of the gut and efforts to prove that by altering its make-up—aka “microbiome”—we can take our health and beauty to new levels, improve our immunity and resilience, reduce our chances for obesity and even create a happy and healthy mind. We’ll see more testing that proves the link between our gut and how we look and feel; there will be no stopping the proliferation of probiotics in what we drink, eat and put on our skin; and more spas (some of who have been on to this for decades) will offer ways to heal our leaking guts.

Check out: The Original F.X. Mayr Health Center in Austria and Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts,“Gut Feelings: Gastrointestinal Health and Immune Function.”

10. Beyond the stars: Luxury redefined

Extraordinary affluence, an appetite for the different and new, a zeal for documenting #epic experiences and the search for solitude and silence are fueling a new trend: the quest for “Beyond the Stars” experiences—where air light and breathing room are the new luxury, and authentic and novel destinations are the Holy Grail of travel. With this shift, the luxury travel industry will be challenged to top itself with even more spectacular offerings and dazzle us with spectacular offerings and experiences.

Check out: The Fregate Island Resort in Seychelles, The Brando in French Polynesia, Amenoi Resort (Vietnam) the recently re-born Golden Door in San Marcos, California—and for extraordinary opulence, Antara Palace Wellness Destination Spa in Cyprus.

Learn more at, and, and view the full 12th Annual Trends Report: Top 10 Global & Spa Wellness Trends Forecast here.

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