Primal Urge
by Linda Troeller
LA QUINTA, Calif. — Oct. 18, 2005 — An overwhelming majority of American men (73.3%) believe that spa treatments can help relieve the stress of business travel, according to a new survey commissioned by KSL Resorts, a leader in the resort spa industry. Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) said that business travel has grown even more stressful during the past year, citing everything from airport security concerns and delays to crowed flights. Spas may provide the antidote, and offer some unexpected side benefits, as well.

Men are showing an increasing willingness to try spa treatments, urged on by their spouses or partners, and even on their own. More than 26% of the men polled in the KSL Resorts' survey reported having tried a spa at least once, and a majority of those reporting a change in their spa-going habits noted an increase in the frequency of their visits. Of the spa-goers, 20% had visited a spa for the first time during the past year.

These findings closely mirror those of the International Spa Association (ISPA), which reports that men make up 29 percent of all spa-goers nationally, according to the most recent available data.

With these figures in mind, California-based KSL Resorts commissioned the survey on American men and their attitudes and awareness towards the spa experience. A random national sample of men, ages 21-65, with an annual household income of $50,000 or more were polled for the online survey by Equation Research. A pool of more than 500 respondents provided the survey with a statistical accuracy of + / - 5%.

The properties of the KSL Resorts Collection are leaders within the resort spa industry, including La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., which pioneered the American resort spa concept in the 1960's, and which has hosted some memorable male spa-goers — including President Richard Nixon.

Other legendary spa locations in the KSL Resorts Collection include Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, Hawaii; and La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif. Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, Calif. will debut its new spa in 2006.

The resorts are uniquely positioned to influence the behavior of American men towards the spa experience, as the survey indicates that the vast majority of men gain their spa experience while traveling to a resort (71.5%) versus going to day spas (36.1%), gym spas (18.8%) or destination spas (16%).* (*Respondents checked all types of spas experienced).

"We're seeing a great deal of increased interest in our spas from male guests," said Arthur Berg, vice president of marketing for KSL Resorts. "But we have also identified challenges in making our spas approachable for men. This survey has given us very useful insights, from improving our identification of potential benefits for men, to exploring alternative lengths and types of treatment choices, along with pricing options."

The 73% of men surveyed who have yet to try a spa cited a host of deterrents, from cost to time constraints. Despite anecdotal evidence that there were men who found the concept of a spa visit 'too indulgent,' the survey indicated only 20% of respondents subscribing to this view. It was another finding that particularly piqued the interest of Jeremy McCarthy, spa director at La Costa Resort and Spa, and ISPA Board member, who commented, "A relatively large percentage of men whom we surveyed, more than 35%, indicated that they 'did not understand the benefits' of the spa experience. This tells us that we have to do a better job of communicating the potential of spa treatments to improve physical and mental well-being. Men who utilize the Spa at La Costa consistently report a positive experience, so we've been interested for some time in reaching out to those men who have never been to a spa."

The resorts may want to let men do the talking themselves about potential benefits, as unexpected feedback came out of the survey. When the entire pool of respondents was polled, including men who have never been to a spa, 35% reported a belief that spa-going could lead to an improved sex life. Of those men who have actually experienced spa treatments, however, a startling 60.4% report the belief that spa treatments lead to an improved sex life.

The survey provided results pointing towards specific modifications in spa programs that can make them more appealing to men. A full 65% of respondents are interested in seeing treatments that take up less time become available on spa menus. A majority of those surveyed (50.6%) say that they would actually choose shorter treatments - estimated at 25 minutes, versus the traditional 50 and 90 minute treatments.

The survey revealed an interesting gap between those treatments that spa-going men have actually tried, versus those treatments they say they would like to try, as shown on the chart below**. Men who have not tried the spa are more skeptical, opting for less adventurous treatments as an introduction to the spa experience. A female masseuse remains the preference of the majority of men in both categories.

Male athletes have realized the benefits of massage treatments for some time, and the men surveyed for KSL Resorts reacted positively to potential "sports massage" offerings, versus treatments such as "hot stone massage."

Based on survey results, KSL Resorts has committed to new men's spa menus and special men's spa packages, to be announced in the coming weeks. Arthur Berg added, "Our goal for all of the spas in the KSL Resorts Collection is to find ways to encourage men to take advantage of the clear benefits of a spa visit, and to build on the tradition of spa excellence at these legendary resorts."

Founded in 1992, KSL Resorts operates a collection of five destination resorts, each of which is a true American classic -- grand without pretension, rich in legacy, and genuine in service. The KSL Resorts Collection includes:

Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa (Maui, Hawaii)

Hotel del Coronado (San Diego, Calif.)

La Costa Resort and Spa (Carlsbad, Calif.)

La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA West (La Quinta, Calif.)

For more information, call 1-866-KSL-7727 or visit