Press Releases

SpaFinder Issues 5th Annual Spa Trends Report, “10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2008”


NEW YORK, NY (December 03, 2007) − The "Feng Shui’d" Gym
A Star (Therapist) Is Born
Wellness, Wellness, Wellness
Luxury Detox and Luxury Bootcamps
Spa Real Estate Mania
Taking Sleep Seriously… Especially if you Want to Lose Weight
Fertility Tranquility
Hydro and Thermal Super-Experiences
Urban Spa Explorer
Plug-in or Unplug: It’s up to You

The spa experts at SpaFinder, the global spa resource, have announced their fifth annual prediction of spa industry trends, providing a forecast of the innovations and ideas that will shape the world of spa in 2008.

“Spas are sparking important new ideas in everything from health, fitness, and beauty, to architecture, design and cuisine,” said SpaFinder, Inc. President Susie Ellis. “As we look at these spa trends for 2008, we’re seeing the future – from where we live, to how we plan a family, to how well we sleep.”

Several of the trends identified by SpaFinder in earlier reports – including the shift from pampering to wellness at spas and the rising popularity of spa residence communities (both initially identified in 2004) – are continuing to shape the industry in new and interesting ways. As such, those “mega-trends” will join several emerging trends in this year’s report. (Other ongoing spa trends, including spas’ now nearly universal eco/green stance, were consciously excluded, in favor of less widely known and reported developments.)

As the point of connection between 4,000 global spas and millions of spa consumers, SpaFinder has a unique perspective across the world of spa. The company’s annual trends report is based on input from leading spas, consumer and industry surveys conducted by SpaFinder, activity on SpaFinder.com, and personal visits among staff to hundreds (if not thousands) of day and stay spas around the globe each year. So without further ado, here’s a look at …

SpaFinder’s 10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2008:

The “Feng Shui’d” Gym – Goodbye mirrored walls and fluorescent lighting; hello waterfalls, fine art and, more generally, the kind of soul-stirring design and ambience for which spas have become famous. For the past 30 years gyms have looked pretty much the same all over the globe – until now. Led by ambitious gym design projects at spas like Gwinganna in Australia, Clay in New York and Italy’s forward thinking Techno Gym company (with its handsome Kinesis system), spa gyms and fitness studios are being reconceived as places to not only tone the body, but also elevate the mind and spirit. More generally, look for fitness spaces to take on a more important role in the spa setting, partially due to the growing emphasis on wellness (more on that below).

A Star (Therapist) Is Born – When all is said and done, a spa treatment is only as good as the therapist who provides it. Yet for years consumers have tended to be dazzled by spas’ ever-more innovative design and image while joining spa management in largely viewing therapists as anonymous, interchangeable employees. Look for that to change as increasingly savvy spa-goers continue to gain an appreciation for – and seek out – those with great skills, knowledge and the caring spirit. Not unlike star hairstylists, these sought-after “gifted healers” will build followings, and becoming critical assets for the spa. View our gallery of “star therapists” who were recently honored in our new Therapist Hall of Fame.

In a possibly related trend, the spa industry is experiencing a labor shortage, contributing to a rise in de-staffed spa facilities and treatments. At many spas these days, “DYOT” is more likely to mean “do your own treatment” than “do your own thing.”

Wellness, Wellness, Wellness – The term wellness is defined by Paul Pilzer, author of The New Wellness Revolution, as “the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.” Wellness is sweeping the globe and affecting numerous industries in its wake – including spas. In fact, like the automobile and the computer before it, wellness may end up becoming the next trillion-dollar revolution.

The wellness wave is being brought on by scientific breakthroughs, the realization that the medical industry has a sickness model (and is unlikely to embrace prevention anytime soon), and consumers’ desire to be healthier, more vital, and youthful in appearance. And if wellness is the goal, spa is surely the most comfortable vehicle by which to reach it. Spa experiences are no longer just about treatments. Fitness, nutrition, education, as well as alternative practices such as energy medicine, reiki, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (which should garner even more interest during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing) are all becoming important aspects of “spa.”

Luxury Detox and Luxury Bootcamps – Detox programs and weight loss bootcamps have long been associated with deprivation, spartan accommodations, and hard-line supervision – as if the guests were doing penitence for their “sins.” But many spas, including Sanoviv in Mexico, the Farm at San Benito in the Philippines, and Cal-a-Vie in California, are beginning to treat weight loss and detox less as punishments and more as celebrations. After all, if you can get the same results with high thread count sheets, lovely rooms, spa treatments and a nurturing environment, why not live a little while you’re trying to improve your life?

Concurrent with this trend is the “spa-ification” of medically guided drug and alcohol rehab centers, which are beginning to incorporate elements like fitness, nutrition, massage and meditation into their programs.

Will this new, “softer” approach to detox, weight loss and rehab work? It remains to be seen. But we should have plenty of opportunity to find out in 2008.

Spa Real Estate Mania – Since 2004, when SpaFinder first noted this trend, the number of residential communities with a spa/healthy living component has grown from a handful to more than 250. With spas adding residences, developers adding spas, and hotels/resorts with spas adding condo units, SpaFinder predicts that the number of mixed-use developments with a strong spa focus will grow to roughly 300 well before the end of 2008.

This trend is being fueled by a quickening stream of health-focused baby boomers entering the real estate market to downsize or purchase vacation homes. Interestingly, they’re being joined by more and more young families attracted by the idea of their kids growing up in communities with plenty of outdoor activities and healthy activities (a welcome prevention to childhood obesity and diabetes). The real estate market downturn, ironically, may also be a factor, as developers look to differentiate their offerings and target more affluent buyers. View our spa real estate photo gallery.

Taking Sleep Seriously … Especially if you Want to Lose Weight – Last year SpaFinder predicted that more and more spas would recognize sleep as an important pillar of health and step up their efforts to encourage healthy sleep for guests. What started as an awareness has now become a focus, as evidenced by the “sleeping room only” sleep-health workshops given at Rancho La Puerta and Red Mountain spas by Sleep Guru Robert deStephano. With recent medical studies highlighting the importance of sleep for everything from improved productivity at work to cardiovascular health, SpaFinder forecasts that sleep will be taken even more seriously in the year ahead. Tipping the scales (so to speak) will be an emphasis on recent research revealing that healthy sleep is necessary for weight loss.

Look for more hotel spas to bring in sleep directors, more destination spas to offer sleep programs (including medically guided sleep analysis), and more day spas to offer “snoozing zones” and creative massage scheduling that allows therapists to say, “stay on the table for as long as you like.” After all, 72% of spa-goers report having fallen asleep during a treatment, and roughly two out of three want their spa to provide a place where they can sleep. Across the board, stay spas will continue to promote good sleep among guests with offerings like ultra-comfortable cotton bedding, white noise CDs, sleep yoga, and sleep hygiene education sessions.

The shape of things to come: the Yelo Sleep Cab in Manhattan, which offers high-tech sleep chambers designed to induce rejuvenating power naps within minutes. In fact, Yelo is opening two new locations in 2008.

Fertility Tranquility – Having waited to begin starting a family, many couples are finding that getting pregnant isn’t all that easy. Because stress is often the culprit, hopeful parents-to-be are going to spas in search of tranquility (and a romantic environment). Spas, moreover, are beginning to offer treatments and diet regimes designed to boost fertility. Examples include the Program for Infertility at The Raj Ayurvedic Spa in Iowa, the Ritual de Fertilidad at the Tides Riviera Maya (where an ancient fertility ritual is simulated in their special “Maya House of Fertility” treatment room), the Lunaception Treatment at the Qua Spa at Caesar’s Palace, and Fertility Reflexology and Fertility Yoga at The Spa at Little Dix Bay. Fertility-oriented acupuncture is becoming especially popular as a natural alternative for couples worried about the health effects of taking fertility hormones.

The spa/baby connection won’t end with conception. Look for expecting parents to take spa vacations as a way to self-indulge and recharge before parenthood, inspiring a new buzzword: “babymoon.” Also look for more and more new mothers hitting the spa to get back in shape … with baby in tow.

Hydro and Thermal Super-Experiences – How many spas would you have to visit to experience a Balinese multi-steam bath, an authentic Finnish Sauna, a Greek Herbal Bath, an Indian Blossom Steam Room, a Japanese Salt Steam Bath, a Laconium, a Tepidarium, a Turkish Hammam, a Tyrolean Sauna, multi-sensory showers, reflexology footbaths, spa pool, water beds and a Zen garden? The answer: just one! You’ll find them all at Aqua Sana, which is part of the “World of Spa” concept at the Centre Parc family holiday village in the U.K. This sort of “theme park” of thermal and water spa experiences – generally with just one price for admission – is a trend you’ll see more of in ‘08.

It’s actually a modern take on a European spa tradition, exemplified by Friedrichsbad (est. 1877) in Baden Baden, Germany, which still offers its 17 hydro and thermal spa experiences. Today’s new and often spectacular interpretations are a result of three converging realities in the spa arena: 1) exciting design concepts coming out of companies from Europe, where the architecture and tile design are often worth the price of admission, 2) a renewed appreciation of the benefits of water treatments and contrast therapy (alternating hot & cold), and 3) the need for “de-staffed” spa treatments due to a global labor shortage and the high price of staff.

It’s a concept that’s also catching on outside of Europe. Witness the brand new Kohler spa in Chicago with its “Circle of Tranquility” featuring a 25-foot whirlpool, cascading waterfall, and three experience showers (“Quench,” “Envelop” and “Deluge”). And then there’s the new Banyan Tree Spa Bahrain, where the spa adventures include a rain mist shower, samarium, monsoon shower experience (“Summer Storm” or “Arctic Winter”), grotto steam, affusion shower, ice igloo, pelotherapy chamber, bucket drench shower, sole therapy, tropical shower experience (“Caribbean Rain,” “Spring Rain” or “Polar Rain”), an herbal ceramic sauna, brine cavern (steam and salt), plus a huge hydrothermal garden vitality pool with numerous aqua jet seats, bubble air beds and water geysers.

Urban Spa Explorer – One of the thrills of being young and living in a city is the caché that comes with discovering authentic, no frills ethnic restaurants and sharing your finds with your peers. Increasingly, young urbanites are taking a similar “rough guide” approach to spa-going. There are a few different factors contributing to this trend: One, many young urbanites are gaining spa experience and becoming more confident in their spa-going judgment. Two, many consider spas an important part of their personal maintenance but often don’t have money to spend at upscale urban spas. And three, there’s a booming, vibrant melting pot of (largely immigrant-run) spas to explore – from Russian and Korean baths to Thai massage establishments.

Although these businesses may seem off limits to some, the best of them offer authentic indigenous treatments, expert therapists, low prices and clean facilities. As these gems are discovered and touted by urban explorer trend-setters, they’ll become more popular, larger, more beautiful, etc. – in other words, part of the “official” spa industry. In 2008 and beyond, this process will add a new dimension to the industry’s growth.

Plug-in or Unplug: It’s up to You – Is it more relaxing to go to a spa and stay plugged in or unplug from our increasingly hyper-connected world and get away from it all? From a spa’s point of view, should clients be allowed to be on their Blackberrys during a foot reflexology session, or should they ban connection devices from their relaxation rooms? A recent SpaFinder industry survey found that four out of five spas report that less connectivity (making the spa a laptop-, blackberry- and cell phone-free zone) represents the fastest-growing consumer demand. But with one in five spas reporting consumers want more spa connectivity, it’s fitting that the trend will be toward a bespoke solution for customers – another way to customize the spa experience.

So the next time you’re at a spa, don’t be surprised if the customary questions like “male or female?” and “lavender or ginger?” are followed by a new option: “plugged or unplugged?”

Learn More
To speak with SpaFinder, Inc. President Susie Ellis about SpaFinder’s 2008 spa trends – or to arrange an interview with an expert or a spa that’s on the cutting-edge of these trends – contact Betsy Isroelit at 213.300.0108, betsy@rbicom.com.

Japanese and U.K. Spa Trends Also Available
SpaFinder Japan and SpaFinder UK have also compiled spa trends with an eye on their unique, respective markets. Click to access these just-published trends reports.

Media Contact:

Betsy Isroelit, RBI
(213) 300-0108, betsy@rbicom.com

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 SpaFinder.com, 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.

Media Inquiries

If you're with the media, please contact:

Betsy Isroelit
Betsy.Isroelit@spafinder.com 
(213) 300-0108