Sleep - A New Dawn in Spa Health
Exercise, good nutrition and stress management have long been the domain of spa programs. Now healthy sleep is being added to the curriculum, inspired by the emerging field of sleep medicine, which has revealed that sleep has a profound effect on appearance, weight, and well-being—and that we, as a nation, are dangerously sleep deprived.
Look for hotels and resorts to put even greater emphasis on creating ideal sleep environments through minimal light and sound, aromatherapy, ultra-relaxing spa treatments, etc. At destination spas (some of which already offer sleep programs) sleep specialists will help educate, diagnose and treat sleep apnea, insomnia and other disorders. More spas will focus on good sleep hygiene, offering sleep yoga programs and life coaches who address the underlying issues associated with poor sleep. Stay spas will also re-schedule their programs to start morning hikes and exercise programs a bit later (so people can sleep in) and allow for naps to help visitors catch up on their "sleep debt." Even day spas will get in on the sleep craze by offering relaxation lounges for a post treatment nap. (. . . Now if they would only let us snooze on the massage table after a massage instead of ushering us out.)
In the past "detox" denoted alcohol or drug rehabilitation, but today that definition has expanded to express any transition from unhealthful habits to healthful habits. As the culture continues to identify more "toxins"—such as dietary no-no's, stress, and environmental pollution—look for more people to turn to spas for a range of detox solutions, including relaxation, all-organic diets, sweating (exercise, steams and saunas), and the purging of emotional baggage through one-on-one or group therapy work.
Ironically, part of the momentum for this detox trend has been supplied by spas themselves, which over the past years have begun offering alcohol, caffeinated beverages, serve-yourself buffets, tempting desserts and fewer restrictions in general to attract a wider audience. The result? It's become harder and harder to end a spa vacation having lost weight or made significant changes in eating habits. Spa Finder is forecasting that core spa enthusiasts will begin to ask for more structure, less temptation, and more intensive programs—in short, more detox and less "tox."
Spa Retreats - On the March
For years destination spas have offered occasional "specialty weeks" where experts are brought in and like-minded people gather to focus on a specific area of interest, such as yoga, sexual health, or to address medical concerns such as arthritis or quitting smoking.
Now resorts and hotels are getting into the retreat business, adding specialty programs or special accommodations that appeal to their past guests—in effect becoming "destination spas" for a period of time. Look for offerings such as wellness workshops, spiritual retreats, boot camps, or "find your inner artist" getaways to energize resort and hotel spa programs, attracting solo travelers with group events, workshops and shared meals. On the horizon, we'll see day spas expand their group/community offerings with special workshops and even group outings to destination and resort spas for overnight stays.
Medical Tourism - In Search of Affordable Health
Medical wellness and cosmetic med spas are doing booming business by filling certain critical gaps in the traditional health care system. In 2007 more and more people will travel to another city, state or country for medical spa experiences, creating a new trend: medical tourism.
A range of new technologies will attract these medical tourists—DNA analysis, for example, and new generations of anti-aging medicines, injectables and lasers. But another big draw will be cost. Squeezed by domestic health care costs, many Americans are going online and discovering global destinations that offer cutting-edge medical procedures for a fraction of the cost . . . often in beautiful, culturally rich locales like Bangkok, South Africa and India, to name a few.
Many hotel/resort spas will recognize the new opportunity that medical tourism presents and market themselves as ideal pre- and post-operation stays. Also look for some travel agents to act as lifestyle coaches, helping to plan vacations that include preventive medical procedures and aesthetic med spa treatments as part of the journey.
Move Into a Spa Lifestyle Community . . . and Bring the Kids
Spa Finder initially identified the genesis of the spa real estate trend at the end of 2004, and already the company is tracking 200 such properties in various stages of development. This growth will continue in 2007 as spa residences move beyond being the retirement option of choice for aging baby boomers—the 21st century's answer to the golf community—to also attract younger families with children. Recognizing the growing priority among parents on raising their children in an active, healthful, communal environment (and avoiding the growing problems of childhood obesity and diabetes), more spa lifestyle communities will offer structured outdoor/exercise activities and healthy eating options just for children. This trend will also provide a great perk for older empty nesters, since the grandkids will have plenty to do when they visit.
The Bottom Line Becomes a Top-Line Consideration
More spa trends in the New Year will be driven by the bottom line, which will play an ever-larger role in shaping the competitive landscape and determining what the industry will offer. For example, the highest outlay for U.S. spa businesses is labor costs, which can consume over 50% of a spa's revenue. Domestically, this is one reason we'll be seeing an increase in "de-staffed" spa treatments, like heat and water experiences, which allow for a higher guest-to-therapist ratio. In general, as profits get tighter, revenue management models will become more sophisticated.
Look for spa treatments to become more expensive on busy Saturdays and discounted on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Spa menu options, similarly, may change depending on seasons, time of day, and other factors affecting supply and demand.
On a positive note for consumers, more insurance companies will begin to cover complementary and alternative (CAM) (or integrative) health services, and more employers will subsidize spa-like services to promote a healthier, more productive work force.
Community is the new privacy. For hundreds of years, "taking the waters" had been as much a social event as a personal therapy, but more recently hydrotherapy and heat/cold experiences have become solo undertakings as spa-goers have generally sought privacy and solitude in the spa setting. Spa Finder, however, is predicting that the search for solitude will be trumped by the natural desire for community and a growing awareness that social interaction is an important aspect of health. "Social spa-ing" will emerge as an exciting new term, describing the emphasis on opportunities to connect, converse, and play in the spa environment. (This social spa-ing trend also fits in nicely with the need to create more "de-staffed spa experiences" as discussed above.)
How Green Is My Spa?
The spa's mantra of body/mind/spirit is extending past the "self" to include others—and also the planet. Consumers are now factoring in a spa's green commitment when they choose a spa, and they're looking for a spa that does more than just recycle and offer organic food. And it's as much about respecting people as it is about respecting nature. Spa guests are rewarding a spa's efforts to incorporate authentic indigenous treatments, hire local staff, and contribute to the community. They're also welcoming education about local cultures and healing traditions and looking for holistic commitment on the part of spa personnel to contribute to sustainability and the health of guests, themselves and the planet at large. In short, spas and spa consumers are getting serious about terms like "natural," "organic," "holistic," "green," "eco-friendly," and "sustainable." And that's a good thing—naturally.
Beauty Inside-Out and Outside-In
Spa Finder forecasts that the spa industry will continue to lead innovation in skincare with new technologies and programs that recognize that beauty is much more than skin deep.
Spa visitors will continue to pursue maximum results by focusing on full-scale beauty regimens, from the inside out. Anti-aging foods rich in antioxidants such as berries, dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, and nuts are also part of the "inside-out" phenomenon as evidence mounts that what we eat has a major effect on how our skin ages. There is also a renewed interest in natural and organic products, spurred on by skin-care companies making purity a priority, not a false promise.
"High spa IQ" consumers are curious about advances in beauty products, wanting to understand the science that makes skin-care products work so they can make intelligent choices. And there's plenty of science to learn about in the current beauty products market, including skin-care serums that penetrate the skin with peptides and nanotechnology, and basically work from the skin's deeper layers up. This new generation of products, exemplified by DDF's RMX Maximum, which uses growth factor hormones, and Remergent's DNA Repair, which fights sun damage, target the building blocks of our skin, fibroblasts and DNA, to improve our appearance, from the outside in.
Spa Finder asks: Will invasive face-lifts and cosmetic surgery soon be obsolete?
Thai massage (a fusion of yoga stretches and massage), Watsu (water and shiatsu), wellness (well-being and fitness) and yogalates (yoga and pilates) are just a few examples of spa fusion that we've seen in years past. In the year ahead, look for an acceleration of these sorts of combined modalities that produce even more powerful benefits than the sum of their parts.
Ryu-Jitsu (Japanese for "Dragon Magic"), a spa treatment recently launched in Manhattan at NAO Salon and Spa, is a good example of what we'll be seeing more of in '07. The treatment begins with work on the Body Master machine, then progresses to sweating in a hot stone spa room, then to a combination of Shiatsu and Thai massage. Other popular "fusions" will include: facials with breathwork, jacuzzis with light therapy, massage with sound therapy, Neurobics (mind aerobics), and Kinesis, which is a new combination mind/body exercise experience.
"We believe that all of these trends demonstrate the diversity and creativity of both the spa industry and millions of consumers who turn to spas to find wellness and balance in their lives," added Ellis. "Spa Finder predicts that many of these spa trends, which seem so new and unfamiliar now, will soon be mainstream—helping many people live healthier, happier lives."
2007 Spa Buzz Words
Airport Spas, Anti-aging, Ayurveda, Bespoke Spa Treatments, Body Facials, Body/Mind/SPIRIT, Caldarium, De-staffed Treatments, Energy Medicine, Express Services, Frigidarium, Holistic, HRT for Men, Hyperbaric Chamber, Infrared Sauna, Kids Spa, Kinesis, Laconium, LOHAS, Metrospiritual, Mineral Make up, Nanotechnology, Neurobics, Peptides, Self-Responsibility, Sleep Medicine, Social Hydrotherapy, Spa Butler, Spa Culture Tourism, Tepidarium, TCM, Unplugged, Vibration Therapy, Wellness.