Spas... Today and Tomorrow
By Judy Singer, Chair, International Society of Hospitality Consultants
In the 1980's, spas became an integral component of many resorts. In the 1990s, they helped to redefine the resort experience. The spa concept will continue to evolve, based on market needs and demands, and spas will become an even more important component of hotels and resorts through this decade and beyond. In our fast-paced society, people are in a constant state of "rushing" to get things done.
Individuals need and want to relax more...both at home and when traveling. Many people want and need the spa to be an "oasis of tranquility."
The aromas and sounds are relaxing; the interior often helps to create a feeling of balance and harmony; the therapists, estheticians, etc. are "nurturers" who tend to make guests feel comfortable and "looked after." It's one of the few times people are physically "touched" in their lives. Something wonderful happens, for example at the end of massage, when one can really feel that built-up tension in the body has been released.
Furthermore, today's guest seems to be more in touch with the mind/body connection and the importance of taking time to slow down and be in the moment. They want balance and harmony in their lives. Spa-related activities are not just "indulgences" during annual vacations anymore, but are now perceived as important activities for overall well-being and healthy "mind and body maintenance." As a result, Spa-Goers expect and insist on having these facilities and services available to them while traveling away from home. The big majority (81%) of resort-based Spa-Goers want, and expect, spa services at the resorts they visit and will seek out those resorts with spas. (copyright: 1997 HFD Spa-Goer Market Study)
In addition to being a spa consulting company, HFD funds and conducts spa-related economic and marketing studies. We have observed and researched a changing spa market over the past 17 years. When we first researched the Spa-Goer in 1992, most of them were fanatical exercisers. In 1997, we found they were looking for a spa experience based on balance and the rest and relaxation aspect was very important to them.
In January 1999, HFD conducted its third spa economic study of U.S. spas. It included responses from 30 resort-based spas. The study found, as would be expected, that the most popular services were massage and facials. Body treatments (wraps, scrubs, masks, etc.) and manicures were a "toss-up" for third place. We believe one reason for the increase in the usage of facials at resort-based spas is that Baby Boomers are attempting to manage the effects of aging and realize the benefits of good skin care. We expect this trend to continue. As for the body treatments, guests are likely to try a "new" or different service while at a resort-based spa, especially if it is something that they know they cannot get at home.
Predictions for the Future
Soon the majority of our population will be older Americans. Hopefully, as a result of medical breakthroughs and years of eating well, exercising, practicing meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc., many of these older people will enjoy unprecedented health and vitality.
Many people will be preoccupied with their quality of life and will strive for health over wealth. HFD believes that health spas will be part of their living more healthful lives. Their homes will continue to be their cocoons and many will continue the trend of creating their own home spa. As a result, they will continue to raise the bar for resort-based spas in terms of the spa offerings.
The concept of spas will expand in order to meet the personal, physical and professional needs of more people. Advancements in skin care and the continuous integration of Eastern and complementary medicine will enable spas to help guests look and feel younger and to age naturally and gracefully. Spas will have a Longevity and Age Management Center or Department.
Spas will continue to be more holistic and will become more convenient to use, less intimidating and therefore, attractive to a broader range of people.
Because of the Internet and other technological advances, virtual reality will encompass people's lives. Many will seek "personal connection" experiences and spas will fill this need. Perhaps, twenty years from now, spas may be one of the few places where guests will go to have a "high touch" and a healing experience by caring, nurturing service providers who become an important part of their lives and lifestyle management.
In the 1997 HFD Spa-Goer Market Study we learned that people enjoyed the rest and relaxation aspects of a spa. As a result we coined the term, "Oasis of Tranquility" to describe what we felt spas had become. We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and over the next twenty years the need for the tranquil, healing aspect of a spa will be an even more important component of future spas.
Judy Singer, ISHC, is the co-owner of the spa consulting firm, Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. HFD works with fine hotels, resorts and mixed-use developments to help plan and manage service-oriented profit center health spas. Judy is the Chairperson of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitness Dynamics, Inc.