Spa Trend Analysis 2011: Salt Rooms and Salt Caves
Salt Rooms and Salt Caves was the third trend we predicted for 2011. I’m giving us a B grade for this one.
We are seeing more salt rooms being added to resort spas (which seems to be the most economically viable way to go) and since our prediction, the number of salt therapy spas in the country has definitely increased. (Salt Chalet opened first in Encino and now there are 5 in southern California – apparently a franchise model). However, there have also been challenges. In particular the Halo Air Salt Room Spa in New York closed – just shortly after opening – apparently a victim of too much promotion via Groupon. In fact the photo on the left is from that spa – the very one where I first tried out a salt room in a day spa setting! At the same time there is more medical evidence of the value of salt rooms, salt saunas and salt therapy – even The Doctors on TV gave it a thumbs up. And I can’t help but remember how clear my acne-prone skin was when I was working at the spa on the QE2 for 3 months at a time. The sea air was better than any medicine. (And no, I did not get more sleep!) I think we will see more salt room therapy in the future – however the revenue model definitely needs attention because people are not going to pay large hourly sums ($50 – $60 per 45 minute session) when already I am seeing specials like 3 sessions for $45.
Yes, you heard right, spas are busy designing new ways to up your salt intake! A rediscovery of the therapeutic benefits of inhaling (and being physically immersed) in salt-infused environments is underway, and new salt rooms/caves at spas, and dedicated salt therapy (‘halotherapy’) centers, are springing up across the world.
Basking in naturally occurring salt caves (“speleotherapy”) is a centuries-old Eastern European health tradition, and spas are recreating the natural salt cave microclimate using technology that precisely infuses pure salt and negative ions into the air. But this “old salt” therapy is coming of age in stylish, new ways: Spa-goers can now take their salt in dramatic stalactite-drenched grottoes (comprised of tons of imported Himalayan salt crystals) or in chic, hyper-modern rooms made of sea salt blocks. Spa-goers glide through inches of salt, curl up on a lounger in the cocooning, tranquil whiteness, and breathe in.
More than folk tradition is behind the spa-salt resurgence: Medical studies reveal it’s beneficial for respiratory illnesses like asthma and allergies, skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, and even cystic fibrosis. (On a side note, asthma is a global epidemic: 300 million people worldwide suffer, with 40% estimated to be children. Therefore, many of the new salt therapy “day” centers feature dedicated kids’ rooms, while home salt-inhalation devices are also on the rise.)
Salt inhalation rooms come in two varieties: steam (a salt steam bath) or dry. On the hotel/resort front, they’re best suited for larger spas, adding a new twist to existing traditional hydrothermal facilities — and, of course, they’re most relevant to inland properties away from the sea. And with no need of a therapist’s involvement/labor costs, they’re very attractive to spas.
Prediction: More salt therapy “time” integrated with massage, meditation or yoga, to maximize the experience.
· 1,000-plus traditional Eastern European salt caves/spas
· CastaDiva Resort (Lake Como, Italy): Exiting the Himalayan salt room, guests can dive into a floating pool, suspended on the lake.
· Aria Resort & Casino (Las Vegas, US): Hypermodern “Shio” salt room, featuring walls of illuminated salt bricks and massage chairs vibrating in sync to music.
· Taba Heights Resort (Sinai, Egypt): New “Dead Sea Salt Cave.”
· Numerous salt therapy day centers, including Halo/Air Salt Rooms (New York, U.S.), where “HaloGenerators” pump salt into hermetically sealed rooms fashioned after European salt caves; Salt Chalet (California, U.S.); Salt Therapy Spa (Dublin, Ireland); Galos Caves (Illinois, U.S.), Salt Therapy Health & Wellness Center (Ontario, Canada).
Salt Rooms and Salt Caves was the third trend we predicted for 2011. I’m giving us a B grade for this one. It may be slightly ahead of its time and improved technology will someday make this more economical and prevalent.
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