Spa Finder's Top-10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2005

Spa Design Comes Home — Over the years, spas have become world-class interior design showcases. In 2005, more spa-goers will find decorating (as well as personal) inspiration during their spa visits and seek to re-create their favorite spa styles at home. While the focus of home-spa design will be the bathroom — courtesy of hydro-therapeutic showers and tubs, mosaic and glass tiling, etc. — spas will influence decorating decisions throughout the home, from furnishings and accessories to lighting and ambience. Look for "spa" to become a popular fashion/personal accessory niche as well, with high-end brands offering everything from "spa" apparel to "spa" luggage.

Live at the Spa, Literally — Just as golf communities offer recreation and relaxation for pre-boomer retirees, emerging "spa communities" will provide today's aging baby boomers with their most important lifestyle requirements — namely health and fitness, centered around spa-going. Taking their cue from the pioneering Canyon Ranch Living community in Florida, a slew of premier spas will offer residential properties built around healthy-living activities and amenities like hiking/biking trails, workout rooms, fitness classes, healthy cuisine, spa treatments, and health education. More generally, spas and healthy-living pursuits will become compelling marketing features for real estate ventures across the board.

Luxury Becomes Ultra-Luxury — As spa participation continues to explode, the luxury end of the market will become even more luxurious, as spas raise the bar for the superior spa experience, whether that means A) a more exclusive/private/meaningful/tasteful experience, or B) a more extravagant/indulgent experience. Stay tuned for daily private spiritual and wellness counseling, ruby/diamond/emerald/sapphire massage oils, four-hour massages, three-therapist treatments, underwater spas, private hotel/spa rooms, and a slate of ultra-chic big-name designer spas.

Spas Go Mobile — Can't find time to get away to a spa? Now you can have the spa come to you. Mobile spas, complete with therapists, massage tables, pedicure carts and other equipment, will offer roving relaxation in venues ranging from movie sets and airports, to hotel rooms and offices. Home spa parties, meanwhile, will become an increasingly popular alternative for baby and wedding showers, bachelorette parties, birthdays, and "just because."

Spa-Goers Become Spa "Goal-ers" — Travelers will hit destination and resort spas to achieve increasingly focused personal goals, whether that means quitting smoking, grief recovery, achieving mindfulness or spiritual awareness, improving sexual health, or detoxing (which is shaping up to be an extremely popular spa pursuit in our toxic times). Men will continue to seek physical therapy and pain reduction treatments and will also discover that spa-grooming treatments can have a positive impact on their business and personal life. Spas, in turn, will ramp up their education programs and workshops while aggressively recruiting experts to lead focused seminars and/or retreats.

Spa Travel Virtually Explodes Online — U.S. consumers now spend $52 billion on online travel1, a number expected to more than double by 2010. And 33% of leisure travelers cite access to a spa as a primary consideration while making their travel plans. In 2005, major travel portals will enable these spa-focused online travelers to book spa vacations (and, soon, spa treatments) as part of their dynamic travel packages, along with rooms, rental cars, etc. The advent of online spa booking will, in turn, fuel further growth in the spa travel segment — already the fastest-growing segment in the hospitality/travel industry.

Spa Rx, A Prescription for a Kinder, Gentler Medical Experience — Medical spas will continue to thrive as consumers seek a nurturing/caring environment and more control over their health regimes. Blending traditional medical expertise with spa luxury and innovation, medical spas are becoming trusted venues for executive physicals, health and wellness programs, cosmetic treatments, dentistry and dermatology. Medical spas will also continue to earn the respect of the traditional medical community as mainstream physicians continue to embrace proven alternative therapies, insurers continue to recognize the value of preventative spa therapies, and cosmetic procedures become increasingly valuable annuities for elite doctors.

Stay Spas Continue to "Go Exotic" While Day Spas Get "Back to Basics" — Day spas, which of late had been racing to broaden their menus of services and treatments, will re-focus on massage, facials, and other maintenance/therapeutic mainstays. Some will embrace express, no frills and discount concepts. Resort spas, meanwhile, will continue to diversify their treatment offerings with indigenous experiences, with Thai massage, Ashtianga and Indian head massage joining Ayurveda, Shiatsu, acupuncture and hot stone massage as popular treatments. On the spa product front, the (juxtaposing) trends will continue to be high-tech cosmeceuticals and "no-tech" organics. In either case, increasingly savvy spa consumers will shop for proven results and specific ingredients above and beyond brands.

Spa Cuisine Served up for Mass Consumption — With Nestle's new Spa Cuisine line leading the way, convenient spa-inspired food will became everyday fare in American homes, work places and perhaps even schools. A growing number of Americans, meanwhile, will look to spa cookbooks, spa cooking classes, and spa chefs (a new celebrity genre) for healthy recipe ideas. As for cuisine within the spas, customization and variety are the trends, with spas offering a range of diet options to meet each guest's needs (vegan/vegetarian, high protein, low carb, low fat, etc.)

Eco Spas Thrive in '05 — Eco spas will flourish in the year ahead, providing visitors with a serene, 'green' spa experience. These environmentally-friendly destinations believe that personal health begins with global health — a belief that extends to the way they create spa products (all organic ingredients), wash dishes (vinegar instead of soap), light their rooms (solar panels and fluorescent bulbs), and process wastewater (bacteria, fish, snails, et. al.). Look for a growing number of traditional spas to hop on the eco spa bandwagon — both from an operational and marketing standpoint.