Conference Photo
New Generation Destination Spas

from left to right: Kerry Cannon with American Spa; Deborah Evans with Red Mountain Spa; Tracy York with Lake Austin Spa, and Diane Trieste with Cortiva Education (formerly with Canyon Ranch)

The American Spa Expo at the Javits Center in New York City April 17th through the 19th hosted some of the spa industry's top executives at Tuesday's Business Development Conference. One of the most exciting panels, Next Generation Destination Spas, featured experts from some of the top US destination spas: Deborah Evans, General Manager of Red Mountain Spa in Southern Utah; Diane Trieste, who recently joined Cortiva as Vice President, Spa Education & Development, after thirteen years at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts; and Tracy York, General Manager of the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas.

The lively discussion was moderated Kerry Cannon, Group Publisher of American Spa, Medical Spa Report, and American Salon. Commencing with each panelist giving their definition of a destination spa, the majority of the interactive presentation focused on current destination spa trends. Following are a few of the trends shared by the panel:

a. The term SPA has become very trendy. Dental spas, nail spas, medical spas, home spa products sold at retail. Lifestyle and demographic trends feeding the spa industry include the graying of America, the makeover revolution, disposable incomes increasing for high end products etc.

b. A huge component to the destination spa experience is education so that you can leave the spa environment with new tools to live a better and healthier life.

c. Branding - seems every large hotel company is buying a spa brand and extending the brand to offer home applications. The panel suggested lining up your private label suppliers to truly match the company's philosophy.

d. Sustainable Spas: Organics and 'Green' living are a critical part of the destination spa experience.

e. Guests building 'spa' environments in their homes. Spa managers are often asked by guests to provide the source of an item on property so they can purchase one for their home. For a while the trend was a 'spiritual' or meditation space in the home and now it is bedding and bathrooms, fountains etc. (Note: This trend was confirmed by a recent Wall Street Journal article 3/11/05 entitled "The Hotel Spa Goes Home."--"With many high-end homes already outfitted with commercial-grade kitchens and home theatres, a hotel-like spa is the next logical upgrade...")

f. Shared Experiences — families, teens, couples, men — Growing market segments

Design Trends

a. Residential Design — make guests feel immediately comfortable

b. Residential Spa Communities — ala Canyon Ranch Living in FL or Red Mountain in UT

c. Design of space:
- making rooms multi functional for 'any' professional to use.
- include prep areas for ease of product/supply distribution and inventory control
- user friendly interior design materials. e.g. no wall paper in treatment room, flooring that can be cleaned...

d. Design of services:
- Tie indigenous materials of the area into the spa and the services.
-Simplify the menu options...back to the basics of offering therapeutic 'spa' treatments. This can also be a place to remind the audience to embrace the true meaning of 'spa'.