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Spa Trends 2011

22 February 2011
Spa Trends 2011


SpaFinder’s 2011 Spa Trend Report™
 
 “Top 10 Global Spa Trends to Watch in 2011”

 
Spa Finder President Susie Ellis Predicts All Eyes Will Be on Asia, An Explosion of Spa Brands, A New Focus on Aging Demographics (and a Liberal Dose of Salt) Will Hit the Spa Scene Next Year
 
1). AGING…RAGING

Prior research has concurred that the number-one reason people go to spas is to “relax and de-stress,” but in some regions of the world that may soon be replaced by to “relieve aches and pains.”
 
2). ALL EYES ON ASIA


…It’s all eyes on Asia, as a new “Spa Road” stretches from China and India to Thailand and Indonesia. The hotel and spa explosion over the next few years will be phenomenal, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
 
3). SALT ROOMS AND SALT CAVES

Basking in naturally occurring salt caves (“speleotherapy”) is a centuries-old Eastern European health tradition, and spas are recreating the natural salt cave microclimate using technology that precisely infuses pure salt and negative ions into the air.

More than folk tradition is behind the spa-salt resurgence: Medical studies reveal it’s beneficial for respiratory illnesses like asthma and allergies, skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, and even cystic fibrosis.

Prediction: More salt therapy “time” integrated with massage, meditation or yoga, to maximize the experience.
 
4). SPA BRANDWAGON
 
Spa-goers are about to have an unprecedented number of global brands to choose from. And unlike the facelessness one associates with “McBrands,” the new spa brands are working overtime to create unique identities and offerings, so consumers will be able to choose from a hip, urban Bliss or Exhale spa, or the eco-friendly “barefoot luxury” vibe of a Six Senses.
 
Many of the brand-new brands are taking angles such as: 1) affordability; 2) greatly simplified and sub-branded menus, i.e., three to five “signature spa journeys”; and, 3) an attempt to balance turnkey menus/design with some nod to local specificity (i.e., a percentage of the menu is dedicated to regionally-specific treatments, etc.).
 
Fueling this historic “spa brandwagon”: sheer globalization; a vast, mainstream global spa market; a strengthening economy; and the advantages economies of scale bring to larger enterprises.
 
5). DEALS GONE WILD
 
Remember when coupons were unfashionable things people snipped out of the paper? And spa deals were mostly found on chalkboards near the spa reception desk? (Or, when spas didn’t even discount or consider using the term “deal”?)
 
Well, put an “e-” or “group” in front of “coupon,” and you suddenly have the hottest Internet mania of 2010, poised to accelerate at an even more dizzying pace in 2011.
 
6). THE SCIENCE OF SPA
 
Is there scientific proof that massage reduces stress? Are mud-packs and mineral-baths medically proven to alleviate pain? Is ear candling proven to remove ear wax? The answers: yes, yes and no. Get ready for a new era where more questions about the effectiveness of spa therapies and spa products will be asked, and where these questions will get answered more transparently, as the emphasis on evidence-based medicine and the “science behind spa” heats up.
 
Take for example the recent New York Times article, “A Good Massage Brings Biological Changes Too,” reporting on a Cedars-Sinai study that revealed a 45-minute massage resulted in a significant decrease in stress hormones, while boosting immunity.
 
As so many more hospitals not only co-opt the “look of spa,” but also directly incorporate spa/wellness therapies on site, consumers will have powerful visual evidence of “medicine” validating “spa.”
 
As these initiatives and forces accelerate, the benefits of spa/wellness will be increasingly not only heard, but also believed by more consumers (often desperately) seeking health alternatives — by doctors who prescribe, by public officials who legislate and by insurers who reimburse. These nascent evidence-based initiatives should ultimately prove the bedrock for future, perhaps unimagined, industry growth.
 
7). HYPER-LOCAL SPAS
 
Spas have been trying to move away from the generic “could be anywhere” vibe for years, meeting spa-goers’ intensifying desire for authenticity and immersion in treatments, food, design and experiences indigenous to the spa’s unique place and culture. A maple scrub in Canada, organic food from the spa garden, or facilities built of local stone, while not new, were, until relatively recently, novelties.
 
But spas are now going hyper-local, putting unique twists on the “farm-to-table” movement, with farm-to-spa cuisine and farm-to-massage-table treatments. (Fruits, herbs, honey, etc. are grown on site, and then dished up in both meals and in treatments/products). A couple of years ago spas hit, maybe, a couple of local angles. But these new über-local spas are locally embedded on almost every imaginable front. Call it “indigenous squared”…or even “cubed.”
 
8). EXTREME BEAUTY: SPA EDITION
 

The common element in spa beauty these days is that beauty-seekers are pushing all known boundaries and taking it to the max.
 
Extremes are, of course, easy to spot when surveying the new technologies and scientific innovations appearing on the market with increasing regularity. Lash stimulators and extensions are not new, but are definitely gathering steam. We are now “beyond Botox,” the botulinum toxin (itself extreme) that fueled the medi-spa industry when the FDA approved it in 2002. There are now all sorts of fillers and other injectables with ever-increasing potency, each longer lasting than the one that preceded it.
 
Plus, let’s talk about extreme pain, which is something people seem to be tolerating more and more, as long as it delivers the goods. Facial injectables have always been somewhat painful — but now facial massage (long a popular component of all spa facials), is, in some cases, now being administered to the point of agony. One example is the Buccal Technique, an intense facial massage performed from inside the mouth
 
Spa and wellness approaches where pain meets pleasure seem to be rising in popularity over their “kinder and gentler” brethren.
 
Even organics and natural products are being taken to extremes, as evidenced by the extraordinary lengths many brands will go to assert their hardcore purity.
 
9). SPA, IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

“In a New York Minute” means in an instant, referencing how things get done faster in hectic New York City. It’s also the name of a whole suite of mini (15- to 30-minute) spa treatments (designed to be performed simultaneously by multiple therapists) at the new Auriga Spa at The Setai Fifth Avenue (NYC). In our stressed-out, expected-to-be-working and on-the-go, 24/7 world, we’ve all morphed into frenzied New Yorkers. And the spa industry is responding, helping people spa anytime and far more efficiently, from open early, open late, and all-night spas to “express,” “sampler” and simultaneous treatments to new, more efficient treatment technology and facility design.
 
Just a couple years ago, articles spotlighted “late-night” spas that stayed open until 9 p.m.! But suddenly a 9 p.m. closing time is the new spa norm, and “Open late” now means midnight, 2 a.m., or all night. Spa-goers report that not only is the night-owl spa scene calmer, but that many love the cocktail-hour “free drinks” atmosphere. But the trend is also towards earlier. For instance, most major Las Vegas spas open at 5:30 or 6 a.m., while the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, London, opens at 7 a.m.
 
The trend towards “express,” “sampler” or “mini-sized” treatments will continue to rise in 2011, gratifying time- and budget-crunched consumers. More treatments will be administered simultaneously by multiple therapists.
 
Spa anytime, anywhere, for as little or as long as you want, at the price-point you can afford…it’s all about letting spa consumers have it their way.
 
10). SURPRISING SPECIAL EVENTS

Downright surprising special events and activities will continue to pop up at both destination and resort spas. The “spa surprises’” will span everything from dramatically more unique, super-targeted “specialty weeks” — fun, even quirky, new activities for spa-goers — and unusual programs aimed at groups, far more imaginative than the old “golf and spa” package.
 
Destination spas have, of course, been doing yoga and healthy cooking “weeks” for years, but retreats are moving in bold new directions. From “Trapeze Experience,” where trapeze artists teach spa-goers to soar through the air like circus performers, to artsy, creativity-focused weeks like “Don’t Worry, Bead Happy” jewelry-making retreats, “Raw Food Week”, “Gluten-Free Cooking Week”, celebrity authors, artists, actors (even politicians) now headline specialty weeks.
 
Hotel/resort spas (also getting into “specialty weeks”) will continue to surprise traditional and business groups with unpredictable programming. “Artisanal butchering classes” or “Naked Table Project,” where guests make a “simple family table from scratch,” and then join tables together for a locally grown feast.
 
If therapeutic carpentry and tight-rope walking are any indication, the sky’s the limit with the spa programming surprises ahead.

 

The full spa trend report is featured in Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Magazine - Issue 44.

To subscribe to the magazine or to obtain a copy of Issue 44, please visit: www.lesnouvelles.co.za or contact Tel: 011 447 9959 or e-mail: info@lesnouvelles.co.za

                                                                            
                                    
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For more information contact the SA Spa Association on 011 447 9959 or e-mail: info@saspaassociation.co.za

 

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