Spa Finder's 2004 Trends and Predictions

• Medical spas provide a prescription for health and wellness — Consumers flocked to spas for medical services in 2003, albeit primarily for cosmetic treatments (e.g., Botox injections). In 2004, baby boomers will take advantage of medical spas for truly medical purposes, such as preventive health treatments, regimens, and education.

• America mixes business with (spa) pleasure — Businesses will increasingly use spas to build relationships, motivate employees, and manage employee health. Spas will become fashionable business meeting places for metropolitan firms. Gift certificates to spas will become the new gift of choice,  the ultimate "thank you" item to send clients and partners and a compelling employee incentive. Innovative businesses, including insurance providers, will underwrite regular spa visits to promote employee health and productivity and to lower medical costs.

• The "Destination Day Spa" hits the radar — According to Spa Finder, a hot new spa experience that's going to get even hotter in 2004 is the "destination day spa."  In addition to the itemized beauty and spa treatments that are the focus of the typical day spa experience, destination day spas offer a holistic mind/body/spirit experience that's more akin to a day at a destination stay spa, minus the hotel room. Visitors check in for a one-day mini-retreat that might include education programs, fitness programs, and healthy meals as well as spa/beauty treatments.

• The spa experience becomes even more affordable and inclusive — 2003 was a boom year for spa/beauty products, as millions of Americans who couldn't comfortably afford to go to spas sought to recreate the spa experience at home. With the continued explosion of affordable spas geared toward middle-income earners, however, more and more Americans will now be able to supplement their aromatherapy candles and bubble baths with a trip to a nearby spa to enjoy professional treatments and wellness programs. In short, 2004 will be the year the spas go truly mainstream, with record participation across the economic spectrum.

• International spa tours replace international spa treatments — In 2003, international spa treatments, such as Thai massage, Balinese rituals, and Ayurvedic treatments, became even more popular.  With a revived economy and stock market, in 2004, more and more upscale consumers will opt to go straight to the source, moving beyond Thai massage to indulge in a tour of the spas of Thailand. 

• Spa cuisine goes mainstream — Spa cuisine will continue to move out of the spa and into America's dining rooms, thanks to hot-selling spa cookbooks and popular recipes. High-end spas will race to enlist celebrity chefs, expand their menus, create innovative, branded diet programs, and accommodate special diets such as Atkins, South Beach, and others.  The spa/cuisine crossover will play out at the opposite end of the spectrum as well, as popular diet programs serving as inspiration for the development of spa properties such as The Pritikin Longevity Center.
• Spas become the primary consideration for more travelers — For years, the fastest-growing segment in the hospitality industry has been hotels with spas. In 2004, that situation may be reversed: as spa becomes an even bigger factor in consumers' traveling decision, customers will look for spas with hotels.   Rather than add-ons to help market hotels and resorts, they'll be the deciding factor, the primary draw.

• Spas become even more accommodating for pets — Spas will keep pace with the "empty nester" pet phenomenon by building kennels and dog runs, offering pet treatments and programs, encouraging spa goers to bring their pets on vacation rather than feel guilty leaving them behind

• ...and men — In 2004 spas will continue to expand their lists of male-focused offerings, not only with golf and outdoor adventure activities, but also with cosmetic treatments and high-octane fitness programs. Spa Finder predicts that men — and not just "metrosexuals" -- will hit spas in record numbers and that more and more day and stay spas will offer equal facilities for men and women.

• ... and the entire family — Last year, spas saw an influx of teenage girls, were drawn by the beauty treatments and the glamour of a luxurious spa experience. This year, Spa Finder anticipates even younger visitors, and more boys, too.  Unlike the teen girl visitors of 2003, the newest young spa-goers will hit the spa with the whole family, and the focus will be health and wellness. Spas will keep pace by offering more family-oriented activities, spas for kids, and/or kids-only spa programs.



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