The Growth of the Spa and Wellness Industry
- 07 February 2017 07 February 2017
With the spa and wellness travel industry expanding faster than overall travel tourism, Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel looks at the growth of spa and wellness tourism and how spas must now innovate to stay ahead of the curve for customer demand.
We have seen exceptional growth in luxury hotel spas and wellness resorts during the past decade, mainly due to customer demand. From the rise of ageing baby boomers to high net worth clients whose stress levels and the need for self-fulfilment have increased, and a time-poor population in greater need of relaxation for enhanced health. The demand for restorative and healing spa services will continue to grow, so spas need to be ready for growth and change.
Spa resorts need to ensure the benefits of their clients stay are long-term, focussing on providing expert health and lifestyle advice so clients return home with the knowledge they need to lead a healthier life. A true wellness holiday should offer an effective fitness, spa and exercise programme utilising the beach or mountains for the great outdoors from beach boot camp workouts, to hiking and fabulous yoga and mindfulness schedules, with a good nutritionist and wellness team for support. Specialised wellness programmes such as digestive health, sleep, anti-stress, detox, weight management and fitness should be an option. Delicious and healthy food choices tailored for the client to maintain or lose weight, detox & cleanse, food for the brain and personalised diets should be offered.
The spa treatments are just as important as the food. More spas are now offering healthy cooking classes and cuisine harvested from their on-site organic farm or garden. With a range of healthy diet and nutrition options at spa retreats around the world, clients can choose whether they want to pursue an alkaline, Ayurveda, Macrobiotic or raw food meal plan. With food proven to be a source of healing, spas can work on bespoke healthy menus so they educate their clients. We are living longer lives and are conscious about prolonging our health, so there needs to be an emphasis on preventative ageing and how to increase our longevity.
Sample organic cuisine at Ti Sana
Retreats, wellness hotels and leading spas must look ahead of the trends to find a unique offering. They need to know what their clients’ interests are and introduce experiences that go the extra mile. They can introduce or create a new exercise class, from surfboard yoga to underwater cycling for example, a new spa treatment, a different style of yoga or meditation but making it fun and challenging.
Some wellness programmes at spas today can feel like nothing more than an operational process, destination spas need to focus on a deeper and more comprehensive effort on helping their clients restore inner silence with an emphasis on nature. The history of spas and wellness can provide informed blueprints for the future; spas, healing waters, thalassotherapy and hot springs date back to thousands of years, an ancient practice done before the Greeks and Romans even. More innovative spas have created treatments based on their local culture and customs, turning back to nature so clients can experience spa therapies that are indigenous to the country their visiting.
At Health and Fitness Travel, we are seeing more bookings for outdoor spa and wellness holidays which focus on getting back to nature and exercising in the great outdoors. Making the most of their stunning natural surroundings, these destination spas offer everything from jungle gyms, to beach workouts, hiking in the mountains and guided coastal swimming with wellness programmes bespoke to the client.
Get back to nature at Karkloof Safari Spa
Having visited more spas in the last year, I’m seeing some turning the art of living into a science with personalised wellness programmes designed to maximise well-being and improve health. With more of a medical focus, medical spas can analyse a range of factors including nutrient, hormone and stress levels, heart healthand circulation to establish the best course to better living.
We recommend spa and well-being holidays to our clients who want more than a rejuvenating break, but a renewed sense of vitality and return to wellness. Individual wellness programmes may prescribe a specialised diet, nutritional supplements, a tailored exercise routine, detoxification treatments or body treatments, meditation or yoga new approaches to living during the clients stay with supported follow-up after they leave. More clients want healing experiences for aches and pains, energy renewal and strength building through yoga and Tai Chi, smoking termination, and detoxification with holistic spa therapies.
Due to increasing levels of stress, mental wellness will be the biggest future trend. More destination spas will start to introduce neuroscientists and psychotherapists, with meditation becoming very mainstream, as we develop a better understanding of brain science and the relationship between the body and mind. I’ve also seen an increase in wellness spa retreats creating specialist post-cancer recovery programmes offering a sanctuary for cancer survivors to recharge and rejuvenate. Spas must stop turning away cancer sufferers and provide comfort, solace and recovery paths for a disease of such magnitude and impact.
Hotel, resort and destination spas must now remain ahead of the curve, spas that don't have a well thought out plan to consistently drive revenue and innovate or create new wellness programmes will likely suffer. Our clients expect a more proactive approach from spas and there is a significant shift on the part of consumers towards preventive health and bespoke wellness programmes, as oppose to pampering. European spas have always been far ahead in wellness, however other destinations are now catching up with a surge in innovative and new wellness resorts launching, and the arrival of more high-tech approaches to improve our health and well-being.