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SpaFinder Special Trend Report: Detox Programs at Spas

This Report Contains : Data describing the current surge in consumers seeking spa detox programs and services Brief overview of ‘detox’ and ‘rehab’ misconceptions and trends, especially in light of ongoing avalanche of celebrity news SpaFinder’s Top-12 Detox Spas Issues and Trends Spa-Goers Seek Salvation from a Toxic World With millions of visitors researching spas [...]

NEW YORK, NY – February 22, 2008 – This Report Contains :

  • Data describing the current surge in consumers seeking spa detox programs and services
  • Brief overview of ‘detox’ and ‘rehab’ misconceptions and trends, especially in light of ongoing avalanche of celebrity news
  • SpaFinder’s Top-12 Detox Spas

Issues and Trends
Spa-Goers Seek Salvation from a Toxic World
With millions of visitors researching spas on its consumer website,, SpaFinder has a unique perspective on developing spa consumer trends and is able to report them as they unfold. One of the most striking trends currently being tracked by the company is a major uptick in consumer traffic at ‘detox’ spa search landing page and other site areas related to detoxifying, addiction therapy and healing services provided by spas.

  • Average monthly searches at the ‘detox’ category at were up over 40% in 2007 vs. 2006.
  • Average monthly searches for “addiction therapy” spas were up 160% in 2007 v. 2006.
  • Searches for ‘stop smoking’ programs at spas were up roughly 45% in 2007 v. 2006.
  • Searches for spas that “serve no alcohol” up 38% in 2007.

Our ‘Addiction’ to Celebrity Rehab — The Punishment vs. Pampering Debate

The media and public were transfixed by the rehab experiences of Lindsay, Paris, Britney and Mary-Kate throughout 2007. 2008 is just underway, and already rehab headlines are swirling around Eva Mendes, Kirsten Dunst and Amy Winehouse (who, in a case of life imitating art, actually did make it “back” to rehab, even though she’d never been there prior to recording her breakthrough single). There’s even a new show on VHI called “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” which tracks the struggles of C-list celebs as they struggle to overcome their addictions.

The prevailing sentiment seems to be that rehab, at least for celebrities (and presumably other entitled people), should be a form of punishment—i.e., that it’s outrageous that celebrities get to further indulge themselves at posh retreats with spa amenities instead of white-knuckling it in some cold, spartan institution. (In fact, the reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab” may well function as an outlet for this shared sense of injustice, reassuring us that immoral behavior will lead to rightful suffering—not to mention career ruin.)

Confusion Between ‘Detox’ and ‘Rehab’: With the ‘Spa-ification’ of Rehab—and the Rise in Detox Programs at Spas

Whatever it says about our insane empathy/hostility for celebrities, the obsessive media focus on the opulence of A-list celebrity rehab has put the terms ‘rehab’ and ‘detox ’ (often used interchangeably or imprecisely) all over the news, fostering a widespread and dangerous confusion between the ideas and processes. This confusion is being stoked by two simultaneous trends: the migration of numerous spa wellness elements into medical rehab programs, as well as the upswing in spas offering new, diverse ‘detox’ programs, even addiction therapy.

The cross-pollination of spa modalities at ‘celebrity rehab’ facilities is abundantly clear: Passages in Malibu incorporates massage, hypnotherapy, yoga, acupuncture, fitness, etc., as well as ‘spa design’ like koi ponds--while Cirque Lodge in Utah’s focus on ‘experiential therapy’ includes saunas, jacuzzis, fitness challenges, nutrition, hiking—with a strong emphasis on ‘equine therapy,’ pioneered by, and imported directly from, the destination spa Miraval in Arizona.

While this growing confusion between ‘spa detox’ and ‘rehab’ is understandable, SpaFinder’s stance on the issue is clear: going to a detox spa, or seeking addiction therapy offerings at a wellness spa, should never be confused with medical rehab. And despite the negative impact the glamorization of addiction and the message posh rehab centers may send to teenagers, the incorporation of wellness offerings oft-associated with ‘spas’ in medical rehab is, in fact, a very positive development, offering supportive treatments and education (fitness, nutrition, meditation, etc.) proven to help people get healthier.

That said, SpaFinder firmly sides with the medical community, which stresses the need for serious rehabilitation and medically-guided treatments for addictions, and wants to spread the message that no spa should ever be considered a substitute for such a program. In fact, any spa-based activity or therapy that’s integrated into a medical rehab program should be considered supplementary, and not given undue emphasis.

The Origins and Evolution of Detoxing at Spas

Originally, a detox spa had a very rigid definition and process: hard-core, long-term fasting and liquid diets, supported by a belief in the detoxifying powers of colonic treatments. But ‘detox’ in the spa arena has greatly expanded of late to include a whole host of diverse treatments and programs aimed at cleansing the body of all types of poisons/toxins that may have accumulated through unhealthful or addictive habits. And ‘spa detox’ has even extended past the ‘physical’ to include mental and spiritual detox.

Are Spas Becoming Too Lax and Luxe About Detox?

Over the last 30 years or so, there’s been a general tendency toward more luxe and lax environments at spas. In fact, many spas that provide detox services to some clients offer lattes, alcohol and cookies to others. While many people may enjoy that choice, others don’t want to be tempted when they’re trying to achieve specific health goals.

Beyond the Purge

Some have argued that detox is just a short-term fix—a “purge”—that’s of limited value if followed by a return to an unhealthy life. Many spas are addressing that concern by providing guests with nutritional plans, exercise regimens, and education to help minimize exposure to environmental toxins, as well as by staying connected with guests with online programs and long-distance coaching—all to provide more lasting platforms for change.

Detox Is Zeitgeist

As the growth in the detox category at Spa Finder reflects, many Americans perceive their lives to be stressful, unhealthy … in a word, TOXIC. People define ‘detox’ in so many ways—as do spas—but everyone relates to what is toxic to them. For many, that’s expanded well beyond alcohol and drugs to include everything from preservatives to bad relationships and negative thinking. Do people really have less healthful lifestyles today versus, say, 30 years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. But we’re certainly much more aware of our toxic habits and environment—and ‘detoxing,’ especially given its prevalence in the current media culture, has become an almost irresistible concept.

SpaFinder’s Top-12 Spas with Detox Programs

Here are 12 spas offering detox programs that SpaFinder recommends for people seeking healthy changes in their lives. While they’re no substitute—and never to be confused for—the “12 steps,” these 12 spas provide different areas of specialization and prices ranging from expensive to more affordable.

Sanoviv Medical Institute (Baja Mexico)
A modern, holistic hospital focused on diet and detoxification, Sanoviv offers a four-night complete health assessment, cleansing diets under physician supervision, a nutritionist, and a detox specialist, as well as massage and bodywork, hydrotherapy, fitness classes, etc.

New Age Health Spa (Neversink, NY)
Located on 280 acres of woodland, this affordable, all-inclusive health resort offers a wide range of programs dedicated to the integration of body, mind, and spirit – including detox treatments.

We Care Spa Juice Fasting & Spiritual Retreat (Desert Hot Springs, CA)
A classic “old school” detox spa, centered around an all-liquid diet program complemented with colon therapy, yoga, meditation, lymphatic massages, etc.

Chiva-Som (Thailand)
Chiva-Som’s Ultimate Detox Retreat includes Chiva-Som‘s cleansing diet with detox supplements. This monitored cleansing diet of a light fruit, vegetable and juice fast may be taken for three days or more. Combined with the oldest detox technique known to man – colonic hydrotherapy

Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa (Aventura, FL)
A famed medical-based diet, exercise, and lifestyle-change program with 30 years of experience, Pritikin offers detox services with a focus on reversing problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity. Programs range from one to four weeks.

Red Mountain Resort and Spa (St. George, UT)
Red Mountain’s program is centered on fitness and outdoor offerings, with a strong focus on hiking, while also offering a comprehensive range of spa treatments and health programs, including detox.

Elemental Embrace Wellness Spa and Retreat (Ontario, Canada)
Situated on 30 acres, this destination spa has a special program focus on weight loss, detoxification, and stress reduction. Combines the pampering of a luxury spa with treatments that incorporate the science of Ayurveda.

Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center & Spa (Bad Ems, Germany)
This award-winning alternative health clinic is located at the historic former palace of Emperor William I. Treatment options are centered on the ancient Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine with a focus on detoxification and purification as the keys to health and recovery from disease.

Kurotel Longevity Center & Spa (Gramado, Brazil)
This luxurious spa is run by a medical doctor and his wife, who supervise treatment programs based on the European Kur tradition, which focuses on preventative and rehabilitative medicine. The spa’s diverse programs are centered on stress control, weight loss, smoking cessation, acupuncture, detox and fitness and diet regimens.

Hippocrates Health Institute (West Palm Beach, FL)
Hippocrates Health Institute has provided natural and complementary health care since 1956. Its philosophy is founded on the belief that a pure enzyme-rich diet and certain non-invasive therapies are essential elements to optimum health and detoxification. The one-week Hippocrates life change program is a popular option for guests.

Chopra Center for Wellbeing at La Costa Resort (Carlsbad, CA)
The spa program is based on the renowned mind-body techniques of Drs. Deepak Chopra and David Simon, blending Eastern and Western healing philosophies. The popular five-day "Perfect Health” program includes daily sessions on proper nutrition, digestion, emotions, routines and sleep.

Raj Ayurveda Health Center (Fairfield, IA)
One of America’s premier Ayurvedic Health Centers, Raj Ayurveda Health Center offers programs and treatments focusing on ridding the body of dietary and environmental toxins and impurities.

To speak with SpaFinder President Susie Ellis, one of the most influential women in the spa industry, on the current ‘detox influx,’ please contact Betsy Isroelit at 213.300.0108 or


Media Contact:

Betsy Isroelit, RBI
(213) 300-0108,

About SpaFinder, Inc.:

The world’s largest spa marketing and media company, SpaFinder reaches millions of wellness-focused consumers via its global media network, including the award-winning, Luxury SpaFinder magazine and the annual Global SpaFinder Directory. SpaFinder Europe and SpaFinder Japan offer regional spa marketing programs, including localized, native-language websites showcasing day spas, salon spas, and onsens. Redeemable at 4,000+ spas worldwide and available at thousands of retail outlets across North America and the United Kingdom, SpaFinder Gift Certificates and Gift Cards represent the world’s largest spa gifting program. Through its investment partnership with SpaBoom, the company also provides an array of technology and online marketing services for spas. Founded in 1986, the privately held company is headquartered in Manhattan.