2014 Top 10 Global Spa and Wellness Trends
TOP 10 GLOBAL SPA AND WELLNESS TRENDS FOR 2014
The Spafinder Trends Report is an in-depth forecast of the most significant global trends that will impact the Spa industry and consumers in the year ahead. Developed by a team of research analysts, editors and industry experts, the forecast is based on ongoing surveys of the spa, wellness and beauty providers in the Spafinder Network, thousands of travel agents and hundreds of thousands of consumers—as well as interviews with industry leaders, an extensive analysis of current market research and visits to spa and wellness businesses by the company’s editorial team.
This is our 11th annual Trends Forecast.
The 2014 trends reflect an industry that is reimagining core elements of spa and wellness and exploring brave, new directions. In this report, we see healthy travel in several of the trends; bold new ideas in mainstays like aromatherapy and hot springs take hold; and the development of new models for classic destination spas. Also, trends in technology, beauty and fitness shape how we will live (and look)—and industry changes that will help people address dying, illness and other major life changes.
Thanks to Spafinder Mia Kyricos and Beth McGroarty for their many contributions in making this report so robust.
Weaving its way through every trend in 2014 is the simple, but compelling, act of mindful living: The idea of attentiveness to the present moment can help clear the clutter in your mind caused by the over- stimulation of today’s supercharged world.
This is the über trend that’s on everyone’s mind—from the Dalai Lama to the co-founder of Twitter to your yoga studio down the street. Whether you tap into mindfulness through an app on your smartphone, by turning all your digital devices off, by hitting a yoga class (another non-stop trending activity) or by practicing straightforward meditation, it’s your mind that matters.
“A healthy mind is the true key to happiness,” said His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, during his keynote speech at the recent Global Spa and Wellness Summit. “We spend so much energy on physical health and hygiene—but we need to spend more on mental hygiene and the ‘hygiene’ of emotion.”
This is one of the biggest movements the wellness industry has ever seen. People are craving (and needing) a reboot of their brains—and the reasons are plentiful. Mindfulness gives us an effective tool to cope with today’s highly stressed-out world. As highlighted in our 2013 trend “The Mindfulness Massage,” it has been proven to re-wire our brains to become less anxious, happier, more focused and even more creative.
This is why this movement appeals not only to the New Age hippie within us but also to the over- achieving Silicon Valley exec. Look at the success of Google’s Zen-like employee program, “Search Inside Yourself,” which has attracted thousands of Googlers, encouraging them to focus on the here and now; witness the buzz around the discovery that Steve Jobs attributed much of his success to the practice of meditation and Zen Buddhism. All walks of life are waking up to the fact that mindful living breeds a healthy mind, one that is able to focus and get things done.
And more and more studies are surfacing that compel us to continue this quest for a “change of mind.” This includes research that shows an hour of yoga a week reduces stress levels in employees by a third and cuts healthcare costs by an average of $2,000 a year, while other studies have linked mindfulness to improved sleep, emotional stability, better cognitive functions and increased productivity.
The physical benefits of spa and wellness activities have long been known to reduce stress and relax our bodies, but in 2014 and beyond there will be a sharp focus on interweaving mindfulness techniques into these practices to help us reach a whole new place of serenity and calm. And perhaps more importantly, give us the tools we need to focus on what’s important in our lives, both at work (with renewed focus and productivity) and at home (helping us to be in the moment with those we care about).
1. Healthy Hotels 2.0
The most powerful trends, like “Healthy Hotels,” are more than passing news and become megatrends, because they fulfill profound human needs. In 2014, look for hotels to move from healthy as a marketing differentiator to deeper, more multi-faceted programming that stretches well beyond the “free stretch band.”
2. Wired Wellness
For some, even connecting the words “wired and wellness” is counterintuitive, especially as being tethered to cell phones, computers and tablets every waking minute of our lives has created a backlash of its own. But, still, we have become a society that is crazy for data – and putting this data to work can truly make us “well”.
3. Hot Springs Heat Up
Bathing in hot springs may be the oldest “spa” experience in the world – dating further back than Roman times – but they are also incredibly on trend in 2014. In fact, there’s never been a hotter moment for thermal springs with more and more people seeking out this affordable, social and beneficial spa experience. And, with hot springs existing in virtually every corner of the world, governments and developers alike have taken notice and are funding hundreds of new, exciting developments.
4. Suspending Gravity
People have a deepening psychological and physical desire to escape from gravity’s relentless pull, and a distinct “suspending gravity” or “floating” trend is rising up. We’re seeing more weightless, stress – and mind-melting flotation tanks, chambers and pools at spas. On the fitness front: a global craze for aerial and anti-gravity classes and yoga, and new equipment like anti-gravity treadmills.
5. Ferocious Fitness
In 2013 we looked at the exploding “label-conscious fitness” culture, which favors programs attached to the insider elite and/or a well-known brand. (Think Zumba®, The Biggest Loser® or Madonna’s Hard Candy™). And while name-brand fitness shows no sign of stopping, a new “ferocious fitness” trend is on the rise, led by people who take fitness seriously and who compete to establish their own “personal bests,” frequently at semi-professional levels.
6. Natural Beauty Meets Social Media
Could it be that we’re finally leaving the era of faux beauty? Spas have traditionally embraced and encouraged the value of inner health leading to that outer glow. But over the last few decades, beauty seekers have pulled, poked, painted and prodded, using an ever-widening wide range of hair and beauty treatments and products to make skin look tighter and younger, and hair smoother, fuller and longer.
7. Aromatherapy: Scent with Intent
Refreshing water with slices of citrus and white fluffy robes – these are the simple amenities spa visitors have come to expect and delight in. But there is another ambient detail that gets overlooked since it usually hits us on a more unconscious level: the calming orange blossom and lavender scents that often waft through spa lounges, treatment rooms, and hallways.
8. Wellness Retreats Rise… & Urbanize
The International Spa Association defines a destination spa as a property “with the primary purpose of guiding individuals to develop healthy habits.” The term “destination spa” is generally embraced more by the spa industry, and can confuse real people. So, in this trend we use “destination spa” and “wellness retreat” interchangeably. Famous examples of course include ChivaSom in Thailand – Canyon Ranch in the U.S. – or Rancho La Puerta in Mexico.
9. Death & Spas: Thriving During Life’s Transitions
A core part of a spa’s DNA is personal connection and helping people cope with pain and stress. And a growing percentage of spas around the world offer services specifically created for people suffering from serious illnesses like cancer, and numerous spas and wellness businesses provide free services and raise money to support health-related causes.
10. Top 10 Surprising Spa & Wellness Destinations
When one thinks spa vacation, a few select destinations immediately come to mind: Italy, Thailand, Turks and Caicos… sound familiar? But savvy spa-goers are pushing back against the “been there, done that” travel mentality and demanding more exotic destinations and indigenous experiences to stamp on their spa passports, thereby spawning a significant new industry trend: a map of new spa and wellness settings to explore that extends beyond the normal hotspots.