Spa Finder announces its Top Ten Spa Trends for 2009

International spa resource, SpaFinder, has announced its Top Ten Spa Trends for 2009; the company’s sixth annual forecast.

Despite a turbulent economy, President of US-based group, Susie Ellis believes that in 2009 the industry will continue to innovate. One clearly emerging ‘macro’ trend is the interweaving of medicine and spas, with spas poised to increase their roles in wellness and healthcare, while hospitals evolve to embrace spa-like offerings and hospitality.

Ellis said: “In a few short years I’ve watched spas go from a narrow focus on pampering to become a vastly expanded category where dozens of wellness solutions are explored. They’ve become, in essence, our alternative ‘laboratories’ for testing new health and wellness approaches – from fitness, nutrition, acupuncture and yoga – or more recently, sleep and fertility solutions. And for 2009, whether it’s energy medicine or brain health offerings—or the rise of wellness tourism or diagnostics—there’s never been more breeding going on in the spa Petri dish.”

The company’s annual trends report is based on analyses from a large team of experts who visit hundreds of spas each year, interview top analysts, and conduct ongoing research in the consumer, travel and spa sectors

The top ten trends are:

Energy Medicine: includes therapies like Reiki, Qi Gong, chakra balancing; healing touch; magnetic, light and sound therapy; and acupuncture.

Casinos and Spas: Spas in casinos are some of the highest spa revenue producers in the world. These world-class facilities cater to a captive, free-spending clientele that appreciates pampering and sees the value of balancing both high-octane indulgence and recharging, healthy pursuits. Spa Finder notes that the trend is exploding in Asia, including V SPA at Macao’s gargantuan Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel and Singapore, which has recently legalised gambling, with RWSentosa, Banyan Tree and the Marina Bay Sands casino/resorts planned.

The Medical and Spa Tourism Shuffle: Forces fuelling the trend: crises within the traditional health care system (skyrocketing costs, millions of uninsured), the rise; with the Internet and globalisation, of a more consumer-centric model revolving around greater choice and price transparency, and fluctuations in international currencies opening up attractive new markets, even within the US.

Spa Finder predicts that the line between spas, medical spas and hospitals will become ever more creatively blended. The era of the ‘spa-spital’ – with global consumers travelling to access the services they want, need, and can afford – has arrived.

Eco-Embedded Spas: A Deeper Shade of Green: Expanded green initiatives and eco processes enmeshed throughout the entire spa, so there’s no demanding efforts required by the spa guest. While the spa consumer skews very green, consumers in general are suffering from green fatigue and sustainability stress. Ostentatious, superficial “green” gestures are out, while spa eco initiatives that are far bolder than ever before are in.

Trains, Boats, & Planes: In-Transit Spa-Going: Includes trains with fully equipped gyms and spas, planes with in-flight spa showers and massage treatments, health and wellness-oriented cruises, and more. What began as a novelty has turned into big business, targetting the uniquely captive, over-stressed traveller.

Brain Health and "Mind" Gyms: While research concurs that many spa cornerstones like healthy food, exercise, relaxation techniques and healthy sleep are key to long-term brain health, spas will really step it up in ’09 to add activities, education, and new technologies and therapies that function like ‘gyms for the mind’.

Learning Labs for Stress Reduction: Look for: spa staff increasingly becoming teachers of take-home, DIY ‘relaxation responses’ – and a shift to effective stress therapies like breath work, hot baths, meditation, exercise, massage, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, and even an emphasis on psychological support and the sharing of feelings. Mini-treatments like ten-minute chair massages will grow in popularity, increasing awareness that stress reduction is critical and can be accomplished quickly with the right techniques.

Mindful Spending: Spas will experiment with creative ways to attract the consumer, earn their trust and exceed their expectations. Look for concepts such as “daycations” and “spacations” to move from mere vague catchphrases to realities.

Discount massage and facial businesses will enjoy more popularity, and significant spa deals and added value pricing will appear on most spa websites. Luxury facilities will need to work harder at demonstrating how their unique experiences and special treatments merit the greater expense.

We will likely see three- and four-star hotels, where more people will be staying, get into the spa arena with competitive spa service offerings.

Move Over Baby Boomers: Gen X and Y Are Spa-Ing Their Way: The shift from a core spa clientele comprising of Baby Boomers to one made up of Gen X and Y represents more than a simple demographic switch. As Gen X and Gen Y hit spas in record numbers, they’re shaping the experience to meet their unique wants and desires. The trick for spas will be to continue to attract ageing Boomers, who fuelled the first ‘spa wave’ with their considerable spending power, while simultaneously re-evaluating facilities and programs in order to meet the expectations of an entirely new generation of spa-goers.

Brands, Brands, Brands: Spas that promote a truly unique brand identity will enjoy a powerful competitive advantage, and should attract more guests at a time when consumer budgets are under pressure. Today, large companies are bringing strong branding savvy into the spa game (think Dove, Nivea and Shiseido), and high-end luxury brands are expanding into spa as well (think Bulgari, Prada, Dior), highlighting the importance of standing for something special.

For the full spa trend report, visit 

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