My final day in Dubai included a spa forum organized by Michael Loh from Spa Asia Magazine and Christiane Walter, from Messe Frankfurt Exhibition. The organizers invited a panel of spa managers from Dubai to address our international group of spa enthusiasts who had come to learn about the industry in the Middle East.
The three points I found most interesting:
- The Arab culture necessitates separating men and women in spa facilities. Every facility has private changing rooms, as being naked in front of anyone else is not appropriate. Everyone wears swimsuits in the sauna and steam. Men massage men, and women massage women. Only recently was a new law passed that allows women to give men facials. This only applies to resort and hotel spas, however, not day spas.
- Dubai has a major shortage of therapists. It is difficult to get therapists and difficult to keep them. When I asked what percentage of spa expenses accounts for staff compensation, I was told it was about 25%. In the U.S. it is about 50%. Seems like part of the solution is fairly obvious.
- Michael Loh said – and I agree with him – that when coming to Dubai, people no longer need to ask whether a resort or hotel has a spa. They all do. What their choice is based on now is what the spa is like, what it offers, and whether there are any special features or programs. This is now happening everywhere around the world. Thus, a spa’s individuality is becoming more important.
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