2020 Spa and Wellness Trend: Smart Designs

Rise Nation
Rise Nation incorporates immersive ambient LED lighting options.

Although many people have embraced smart technology in their homes, spas have been a bit slower to adopt the technology. However, that is changing as the benefits become more apparent. Just as Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa can respond to simple commands to adjust the temperature or change the volume on the tv, such technology can also be used to enhance a client’s spa experience. “Spa and salon owners are really focusing on the guest experience, as they try and distinguish their spas and salons from competitors,” says Francisco Gonzalez Pulido, architect and principal at Chicago-based FGP Atelier. “They are using voice activation to control temperature, lighting, and entertainment while also connecting to online marketplaces, so clients can immediately purchase products recommended by the stylist or therapist and have those products at their homes later that day.”

Integrating smart home technology into the design of Starring by Ted Gibson (Los Angeles), Pulido helped create an unprecedented retail experience, which is entirely cashless. Interactive window displays replace traditional product displays, and clients scan SmileCodes using the Amazon App on their mobile devices to have the products delivered directly to their homes. Pulido also chose to forego the typical stylist chairs and replace them with whimsical cloud-like pods with LED lighting that gives clients the option to view their hair in various ambient lighting options, such as “Everyday Sunshine,” “Moonlight,” and “Indoors.” Each pod also incorporates smart home speakers for personalized programming, and an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet is available with various entertainment options.

One area that has been on the cutting edge of technology is in the fitness arena. “Fitness is seeing a rise of personalized, prescriptive, and adaptive technology,” says Susan Shanmugham, senior project director for WTS International. “Whether it is Technogym’s Bio-Circuit, eGym’s strength-training machines, or Kompan’s outdoor bikes with adaptive-resistance technology and virtual fitness connectivity to apps such as Zwift, fitness equipment is elevating the way users experience wellness. This wellness journey is one that can be tracked and monitored through the cloud, both for individual use and for engagement with trainers.”

Noah Waxman, head of strategy and cofounder of Cactus, an architectural, engineering, and consultancy firm, sees lighting as benefitting most from the emerging smart technologies. He attributes it to the fact that the cost of creating beautiful, interactive, and custom lighting has fallen dramatically in the last five years. Because light has such an impact on mood and motivation, the company made sure it played a key role in its latest Rise Nation project, a boutique climbing studio. “We have found that custom lighting solutions with individually addressable LEDs are super effective at creating new and exciting ambience in spa and fitness facilities,” says Waxman. According to him, rooms that change to match a client’s mood are next.

Hydrothermal areas are also benefiting from innovations in smart technology. “Smart technology exists to measure CO2 levels in thermal experiences to detect human occupancy, and therefore, adjust temperatures, raising them from unused mode, running at a lower temperature but not completely off, to occupied mode, where thermal rooms increase temperature to full bathing mode once CO2 is detected,” says Don Genders, CEO and founder of Design for Leisure, a strategic partner of WTS. According to him, it’s more effective than existing technology that relies on infrared motion or proximity sensors, as they can become unreliable when subjected to high temperatures and humidity. The new smart technology can help to reduce energy costs in spas.

Today’s smart technology is transforming the spa experience. “It’s making the experience more magical,” says Pulido. With invisible systems, guests can just immerse themselves in the space. As technology evolves, today’s spas and those of the future will adapt with even smarter design options. According to Catherine Warren, vice president of training for WTS International, toilets that can determine biometrics from bodily waste and provide recommendations for nutrition and hydration needs in order to prevent and treat diabetes, hypertension, ALS, high cholesterol, and more are also on the horizon.

For the full digital edition of American Spa's 2020 Trend Report, click here.


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