Top 10 Spa Trends for 2012



In our previous post, we revisited the 2011 spa trends elaborated by SpaFinder, a global media company dedicated to the global spa marketplace. Now that the year is just starting, it is time to take a look at the trends that SpaFinder expects to see evolving in 2012.

Spa Finder has just released its annual Spa Trend Report where it discusses the trends and ideas that will reshape the spa and wellness industry in 2012. According to Susie Ellis, President of SpaFinder, there are two essential themes emerging this year: Innovation of treatments and the development of long-term relationships with the client. Let’s take a look at the top 10 spa trends for 2012.


1.  Healthy feet treatments

Spa-goers can now take care of their troubled tootsies with a variety of treatments and classes. Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas offers a comprehensive “Healthy Feet” program, with computerized gait analysis and treatments in zero-gravity chairs, while Yamuna’s boot camps in New York City teach attendees to improve their posture and strengthen the muscles in their feet. There are even 100% foot-focused med-spas such as California’s Stride Wellbeing, which combines podiatric medical care with a menu of foot-pampering treatments.


2.  Cold and ice are hot

From saunas to steam rooms to hot stone massages, spas have traditionally turned up the heat. But while heat promotes relaxation and detoxification, the benefits of icy therapies – including better circulation and reduced inflammation of muscles and joints – are finally getting their due.

Infrared saunas, which direct radiant heat into the body without heating the air, are becoming more widespread, and more extreme cold and hot/cold-contrast treatments are on the rise.




3.  Wellness and beauty coaching

Health coach. Sleep coach. Eyebrow coach. Coaching is gathering steam at spas, and with good reason. While isolated treatments have their benefits, spas are in a unique position to help people make the kind of lifestyle changes that lead to long-term health and well-being. With the word “spa” increasingly evoking an entire lifestyle, it is only logical that coaching will become a fundamental part of the spa philosophy.


4.  Online wellness gaming

Half a billion people worldwide play online games for at least an hour a day, and gaming’s addictive features – points, challenges, rewards, social interaction – are uniquely suited to making healthy lifestyle changes stick. Pioneers in the wellness gaming space include early entries like the meditation game Leela, from mind-body guru Deepak Chopra, and MindBloom’s Life Game, which rewards members for achieving well-being goals and has the backing of insurance giant Aetna.


5.  Pairing fine dining and spa-ing

While many hotels and resorts have long offered both very fine food and very fine spa, the two weren’t traditionally paired together as a package. That’s changing in a big way, as fine dining and spa-ing are being aggressively paired, packaged, curated, marketed, and savored together as never before. Creative culinary-plus-spa experiences have become a massive trend because they’re massively appealing: a logical, sensory, “lifestyle” combo for both pleasure seekers and true connoisseurs.


6.  Vibration, sound, music, light and color therapies

Spas have long used sound and light as ambient accessories. Now, new scientific evidence revealing the physical and emotional benefits of frequencies and vibrations has inspired an explosion of approaches based on the idea that various systems in our bodies vibrate at different frequencies, and disruptions can affect our health.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the trend is an explosion of blended, multi-sensory “good vibrations” approaches, including new saunas, steam capsules, lounge chairs, massage tables, tubs, and experiential pods that weave light, color, sound, and music/rhythm together for sensory bliss.


7.  The glam factor

The intensity, frequency, and sheer whimsicality with which people are now getting “glammed up” is exploding worldwide. The spa and beauty industry is working overtime to invent ways for beauty-seekers on a budget to more quickly, more cheaply, and more often change up their looks and hair with high-impact little beauty “fixes” and frills.


8.  Spa Evidence: Showing the science behind spa

Will a massage boost immunity? Can time in a sauna cure cold symptoms? Does acupressure relieve lower back pain? The answers to those questions can be found at Launched in 2011, the site is the web’s most comprehensive resource on the hard science behind popular spa and wellness therapies like massage, foot reflexology, aromatherapy, yoga, and meditation.

In 2012, more hospitals than ever will incorporate – and more doctors will prescribe – spa and wellness approaches. As clinical studies continue to erode the barriers between traditional and alternative therapies, look for more spas to adopt the language of evidence-based medicine.


9.  Spas become a family affair

As more families travel with children to spas, the industry is evolving to accommodate the under-18 set – from opening kids-only spas to offering services focused on everything from childhood obesity to the development of lifelong wellness practices.


10. Spas go for the ‘wow’

Gone are the days of interchangeable spas with the same beige, Zen look. As seasoned spa-goers seek new experiences, spas are piling on the “wow” factor to differentiate themselves from the crowd. There are wows for almost any budget. Big wows include celebrity partnerships and futuristic designs.


Spa Balance’s Predictions

We find all the top ten trends for 2012 exposed by Susie Ellis very interesting and plausible, with a special emphasis on the following:

3. Wellness and beauty coaching.

4. Online wellness gaming.

5. Pairing fine dining and spa-ing.

6. Vibration, sound, music, light and color therapies.

7. The glam factor.

9. Spas become a family affair.


Besides these predictions, we also feel the following trends will play a major role in 2012:


1. The development of lifestyle spas. In 2011, we saw the launch of ESPA’s life brand. We feel there will be a rising trend and need for integrated wellness concepts and something to look out for this year.


2. In recent years, the spa industry has witnessed a boom of budget spas. As the industry continues to move away from the idea of luxury and exclusivity that has surrounded it, we strongly feel budget spas will continue to flourish in 2012.


3. Role of spas in pain management. With the arrival of an increasing number of ageing baby boomers into the market and the development of new synergies between the medical sector and the spa industry, the role of spas in pain management will probably experience an increase during 2012.


4. Initiatives like SpaEvidence have given the spa industry more credibility in terms of the efficacy of spa therapies.  We think more spas will communicate benefits of spa therapies for certain pathologies and will start to offer specialised therapies and services, for example, treatments for patients suffering from cancer.


So here are the top spa trends for 2012. What are your thoughts? We would love to hear your comments and thoughts on SpaFinder’s and Spa Balance’s predictions.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Spa Trends for 2012

  1. Pingback: Los ‘Lifestyle’ Spas y el Concepto Integral de Wellness – ¿Una Estrella en Alza? | Spa Balance

  2. Pingback: El Concepto Integral de Wellness y Los “Lifestyle Spas” | Spa Balance

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