Six Spa Trends to Watch in 2016
by Anne Dimon

The Global Wellness Summit, held in Mexico in November, offered a much broader wellness focus than when it first launched in 2007 as the Global Spa Summit. But the spa industry continues to be a vital part of the wide spectrum of wellness businesses in the annual event.    

When Travel Market Report asked a few attendees to weigh in on new developments we might see in 2016 and beyond, they suggested the following: 

1. Spas meet medicine 
Andrew Gibson, vice president of spa and wellness for FRHI Hotels and Resorts (Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel), foresees the continuing convergence of spas and hotels with the medical world.   
 
“The realms of medical wellness and medi spas are already immensely popular in many parts of the world,” he said. “Many private hospitals are already delivering five-star customer service, and there will soon be more medical hotels where patients become guests. There will not only be inpatient facilities for guests (i.e., patients) but floors for family and friends to stay. Once this happens, the facilities will match those of any quality hotel, with superb F&B and spa facilities.”     
 
2. A global chain of destination spas 
With more than 30 years of international spa and hospitality experience to his credit, Gibson predicted that a global chain of destination spas will be launched in the near future.  
 
At present, he said, “destination spas rely on the passion of an individual or couple to create the retreat and build up from this passion. There is now enough knowledge and public awareness of wellness retreats to make it conceivable to create a global destination spa group.”  
 
3. Innovative tech treatments 
Technology will, of course, become a prevailing feature in the spas of the future. “Technology will begin to feature heavily in the guest experience, from the design of the spa to the check-in and guest history process, to the use of machines in treatments,” Gibson said.   
 
Kim Matheson, senior vice president of Rockville, MD-based WTS International, consultants to spa, fitness, and hospitality facilities around the world, agreed.  “We’ll see technology not only in the guest journey itself, but also the use of innovative technology in treatments and to offer such alternative modalities as chromotherapy,” she said.  
 
4. Wellness communities 
Matheson also sees the growth of spas at the center of new wellness communities. As evidenced by new global developments, residential communities are embracing spa and well-being services as a point of differentiation. “These lifestyle-based communities/developments have enjoyed a positive and discernable impact, with a significant increase in value in comparison to other comparable properties,” she said. 
 
She cites the example of a hotel and residential wellness community she is working with in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which is developing several wellness-based communities. The first, opening next month, will feature a wellness center with spa, fitness, wellness, and beauty services—all scientifically supported to yield measurable results. Which, she says, is another growing trend.  
 
5. Putting the science in the spa experience 
Matheson predicts that spa menus will include more scientifically proven treatments with measurable results. 
 
Josh Luckow, executive director of health and healing at Canyon Ranch, also sees “recent scientific advancements reinforcing the benefits of integrative and preventive medicine.”  
 
Guests "are leveraging our health practitioners to explore the value of epigenetics, brain fitness, and the microbiome,” he said, and being “much more careful about what they are ingesting and inhaling, as well as about the ingredients they are putting on their skin.” 
 
6. Giving back 
Luckow also has seen a big focus in the health and wellness industry on giving back/charity over the past few years. He predicts this way of promoting inner well-being also will continue. 

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