Spa Trend Analysis 2011: Surprising Special Events

This was our 10th spa trend prediction for 2011 and while we are definitely seeing new and creative special events added to spa programs, I think we are also learning that if you get too narrow on a theme or topic, you might have a hard time attracting enough participants.  For example, while gluten free programs seem to be super popular and filling up quickly in many spas, the “Sisterhood of Survivors” retreat at Miraval offered for those who have been touched by suicide, had to be cancelled due to low enrollment.  (Kudos to them for giving it a try, however!)  On the other hand, Six Senses brought Richard Branson to Soneva Fushi a few months ago for a pow wow on SLOW LIFE.  That was impressive – and definitely a surprise to me!  I think that this trend prediction deserves a B.  Good…but not excellent – it has a ways to go.

Downright surprising special events and activities will continue to pop up at both destination and resort spas. The “spa surprises’” will span everything from dramatically more unique, super-targeted “specialty weeks” — fun, even quirky, new activities for spa-goers — and unusual programs aimed at groups, far more imaginative than the old “golf and spa” package.

Destination spas have, of course, been doing yoga and healthy cooking “weeks” for years, but retreats are moving in bold new directions. Consider Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain’s (Michigan, U.S.) “Trapeze Experience,” where trapeze artists teach spa-goers to soar through the air like circus performers, and artsy, creativity-focused weeks like Canyon Ranch’s “Don’t Worry, Bead Happy” jewelry-making retreats, or “Raw Food Week” at Canada’s Spa Eastman, and “Gluten-Free Cooking Week” at Baja California’s Rancho La Puerta. And celebrity authors, artists, actors (even politicians) now headline these specialty weeks. For instance, Soneva Fushi Six Senses’ (Maldives) recent “Dine and Dive Week” was headed up by Fabien Cousteau (Jacques’ son), and featured an island bicycle race where the slowest bicyclist wins. The trend also embraces the serious: i.e., Miraval Arizona’s (Arizona, U.S.) “Sisterhood of Survivors” retreat, for those who have survived a loved one’s suicide.

Hotel/resort spas (also getting into “specialty weeks”) will continue to surprise traditional and business groups with unpredictable programming. Consider Sanderling Resort & Spa’s (North Carolina, U.S.) monthly “artisanal butchering classes” or Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa’s (Vermont, U.S.) “Naked Table Project,” where guests make a “simple family table from scratch,” and then join tables together for a locally grown feast. The Montage Resort & Spa (California, U.S.) offers falconry and “Plein Air Painting” programs, while Joie de Vivre Hospitality’s (U.S.) boutique spa hotels’ “Joy of Meetings” program includes bubble-blowing and kite-flying to relieve stress in business meetings.

If therapeutic carpentry and tight-rope walking are any indication, the sky’s the limit with the spa programming surprises ahead.

This wraps up our 2011 spa trend analysis – hope you enjoyed it.  I would be happy to hear from anyone regarding your agreement/disagreement about the analysis.  Did we grade ourselves too high?  Too low?  Next I will do a quick commentary on our 2011 Hot & Getting Hotter List and the 2011 Counter Trends – then we get to move to the exciting new trend forecast for 2012!  If you are curious and want a sneak peek of what’s on our radar for 2012, check out this link.

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