Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
Before we take a closer look at spa trends we are predicting for 2009, I thought it might be fun to go back and look at the ones we predicted for 2008 and see how well we did. I think we were “right on” with quite a few of the trends, dead wrong on one (thanks to the developing negative economic climate), and compromised on another because the trend toward eco-friendly practices trumped it. (More details below.) If I was giving out grades, I think we earned a B+. Let me know what you think!
The “Feng Shui’d” Gym
We got this one right. Gyms are getting a lot more respect these days. Even Interior Design Magazine’s international “best of the best” featured a gorgeous yoga space in Shanghai with an elevated ebonized South African walnut floor enclosed by a curtain of shaped ropes to represent abstracted trees. The futuristic-themed gym at the brand new Dolder Grand in Switzerland even gave cutting-edge shape to its towel holders. Unfortunately, it’s mostly the new gyms that are wowing us – we aren’t seeing a lot of feng shui’d gym redesigns.
A Star (Therapist) Is Born
Great progress has been made in terms of recognizing the importance of the personnel at spas. Skill and attitude of the therapist is counting more than marble and gold. More is being written about top aestheticians, therapists, and practitioners and this year’s highlight at our Readers’ Choice Awards gala was the emotional reaction from the top spa managers and top therapists when they were handed their awards.
Wellness, Wellness, Wellness
As we predicted, this term is becoming more and more popular all over the world. We are even seeing an increased reference to the $1 trillion dollar figure that Paul Zane Pilzeran used to quantify the size of the wellness phenomenon which he outlined in his book, The Wellness Revolution
. Wellness is becoming an umbrella term under which fitness, medical, spa, anti-aging, nutrition and a host of other categories are beginning to fit nicely.
Luxury Detox and Luxury Boot camps
The terms detox and boot camp are buzzwords that continue to attract clients. While the term ‘luxury’ started waning in popularity toward the end of the year with the deepening financial crisis, the desire for comfortable environments coupled with feel-good spa treatments while adhering to regimes which promise to produce results, continues. This combination of grace and truth remains resilient.
Spa Real Estate Mania
Here is where we were way-off. Instead of mania, we had meltdown. What looked promising at the beginning of the year – living at a place with a major spa focus among like-minded people – ended up falling flat with the economic climate. Although Canyon Ranch Living in Miami did finally open at the end of 2008 and consumers are still attracted to the idea of living in a spa lifestyle community, any real estate purchase – whether primary or secondary residence – has pretty much been placed on-hold for now. It’s going to be aromatherapy candles, bath salts, and dry brushing at home for a while.
Taking Sleep Seriously… Especially if you Want to Lose Weight
2008 saw an emergence of many more sleep health programs at hotels, resorts and destination spas all over the world. I checked in with sleep guru Robert de Stefano who lectures on sleep health at spas around the world. He reports that his business has been great all year and that next year looks strong as well. Just this morning I received a press release from Crowne Plaza hotels, which already has what they call their Sleep Advantage Program, about a new option they are trying called the “switch off call” where guests are reminded that it is time to wind down for better sleep. While taking sleep seriously has definitely happened, connecting it to weight loss lags behind.
We have seen an increase in the amount of fertility-oriented programs in spas and more discussions about the topic in general. This “niche trend” continues as fertility yoga, acupuncture, and many of the mind-body awareness activities at spas address this need. In August a new infertility program for couples called Fertile Intentions was announced. Their all day retreats are done at day spas.
Hydro and Thermal Super-Experiences
Dedicated space in spas featuring various water and heat experiences has increased. Popular in Europe, these are now increasingly seen in other parts of the world. Circuits often include various combinations of saunas, steams, laconiums, tepidariums, caldariums, whirlpools, experience showers, and snow rooms, etc. Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas opened their impressive new thermal and hydro circuit toward the end of the year and other large projects such as the Fontainebleau are in the pipeline. One limiting factor has been the eco-green-sustainability trend which reminds us that water is in short supply in many parts of the planet and using large amounts for bathing or in Vichy Showers is beginning to be viewed as indulgent.
Urban Spa Explorer
This trend ended up being even more popular than we thought. We fielded lots of media calls about the concepts of consumers trying out various ethnically oriented spas with authentic Korean, Russian, Thai – as well as others – ways to de-stress and rejuvenate.
Plug-in or Unplug: It’s up to You
It seems that this has not only happened but become a standard this year. Almost every spa I have visited recently provides places where one can use personal phones and electronic devices and places where one must unplug. As we had predicted, it has become the consumer’s choice.
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