Spas and Hospitals: A Fruitful Collaboration?


Lately, we have written extensively about the evolution of the spa industry and the current challenges and opportunities we have ahead of us. In particular, our posts have introduced the present synergy that is taking place between the spa industry and the medical field. From cancer-related treatments to pain management, we have explored different evidence regarding this synergy.

We recently came across an interesting article written by John R. Hendrie that was published in, a top hospitality industry site and a relevant source of information regarding the hospitality industry. The article offers a compelling rationale behind the benefits that hospitals can gain from a partnership with the spa industry.

While seeing this article on an online hospitality newsletter is quite interesting, especially from the business side, we found even more relevant the timing of this post, which was published just days after the Health Matters Conference in the US. Considering the current situation of the health crisis in the US, and how professionals and experts from different fields – wellness, schools, medical, etc. – are joining forces to promote better health amongst the American population.  Susie Ellis, president of Spa Finder, wrote a detailed post on the event and added some interesting points worth discussion.  The focus of this article is the broad consensus that exists today regarding the benefits behind prevention, and we believe a partnership between hospitals and spas offers an attractive opportunity for our sector.


The Current Scenario

One of the realities surrounding hospitals today is that these institutions are in a tough market place where they usually have to scramble for revenue. In order to deal with this scenario, hospitals are opting for cutting down costs or implementing a series of measures including improvements on their customer service, food and general facilities. However, very often hospitals tend to overlook additional opportunities for growth such as those offered by the spa industry.

One of the fields that has taken advantage of the evolution of the spa industry is the hotel industry. According to John R. Hendrie, spas “have successfully partnered with or been created by hotels and resorts, providing new revenue streams and marketing advantages for those Lodging operations”. Because of the similarities that exist in the delivery of services to guests and patients, Hendrie sees an obvious next step defined by the partnership between hospitals and spas.

While he supports his rationale with different factors such as the pampering spas can offer to people in hospitals and the economic revenue that spas and wellness centres can bring to the operations of these institutions, we believe the defining element of a successful partnership between hospitals and spas relies on the fact of consolidating prevention as the leading principle to apply in the health field.


The Health Matters Conference

As we previously mentioned, we found interesting the timing of Hendrie’s post with the Health Matters Conference, an event led by former President Bill Clinton. One of the attendees of this event was Susie Ellis, President of SpaFinder, who recently shared her own insights about this event.

According to Susie Ellis, there were two big conclusions that came out of the Health Matters Conference. First, all participants agreed on the current health crisis in the US. Second, prevention was at the bottom line of the solution. Along those lines, Susie Ellis added that “the time to help people make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and spread the message of prevention (the one thing everyone seems to agree on as a solution) is NOW”.


Focus on Prevention

Something that was clear from the Health Matters Conference is that prevention is no longer considered a trendy concept but rather an ideal framework to deal with the current health crisis that not only affects the US but different health systems around the globe. Considering that a big chunk of the services provided by spas and wellness centres are based on preventive treatments and therapies, the spa industry has the potential to build a solid alliance with hospitals willing to embrace a preventive model towards health.

Although the opportunity is there right now, spas need to work harder if they want to size it. They need to spread the benefits of their preventive treatments in a better way. In fact, during the Health Matters Conference Susie Ellis noticed that “no one on the stage mentioned the word spa the entire day”.

If the spa industry is able to present itself as an important partner in the development of prevention-related solutions, it can take advantage of a business opportunity that could easily define the future of our sector. The health crisis environment around the spa industry is evolving dramatically. One thing that is evident: the movement is taking place and our sector needs to adapt and evolve accordingly. A partnership with hospitals may be the next big thing for the spa industry.

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

6 thoughts on “Spas and Hospitals: A Fruitful Collaboration?

  1. HI Sonal,
    I am glad to see that professionals begin to see this new turn in the industry. I just wrote a new article for the magazine DERMASCOPE (USA) for the May 2012 issue, about spa design trends, and I write there that the next biggest development in the spa industry should be the expansion of the medical tourism where hospitals have to pair-up with the spa professionals to have spa like structures within the hospitals to respond to the needs of their new GUEST/patients. I also gave two weeks ago a lecture in Kiev, Ukraine, about what a hospital needs to change to become a Medical Destination.
    This is the next big change in our industry!
    Sam Margulies
    Atmosphere Spa Design – MDsign
    tel: 1-514-332-8941
    Skype: atmospherespadesign

    • Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your new developments! They sound very interesting. I agree with you and I too am convinced that the incorporation of spa and alternative therapies in hospitals is the next big change in our industry. One does not see to see any further than the ever increasing strains in majority of the national health care systems in Europe to see that the current reactive model for health is not sustainable. Governments and countries will need to revise their business models and embrace a preventive model, which will involve seeking strategic alliances with other related sectors, for example: spa and wellness, in order to be sustainable in the longterm and successfully meet the demands of the population.

      Sonal Uberoi

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  4. Hi Sonal

    For the last 32 years in the Spa industry I advocated that modern Spa’s should take the opportunity to embrace the real Spa therapies that have been part of the historic “spa menu” and have been abandoned in favour of pure pampering and indulgence. Whilst people are seeking relief from stress, they are also looking at solving some real health problems. The historic Spas were perhaps too medical but my evidence is that the “tide is turning” and many spas that we work with, take the “healing with minerals” message far more seriously. Recent research at the University of Manchester by Dr Compan and Dr Pablo Pelegrin found that cells in the bodies of arthritis sufferers expand but salt water can reduce the swelling by dehydrating them. Similarly, research into Haloptherapy shows that many respiratory problems can be helped by mineral salt inhalation. The statement that spa can become an “alternative health system” was also confirmed by recent scientific research that showed that hot springs which are high in salts are so effective and for years were frequented by patients seeking a miracle cure.

    Many Spas that we collaborated with regards to this topic have proved to be commercially more successful in recent years – one such example is the Nirvana Spa in the UK, that turned from a Sports/Gym outlet to a successful health resort by introducing Mineral Health as one of its main attractions. In the current economic climate, customers need a “health reason” to indulge in Spa treatments. Please note that the Spa sector will remain a “pampering arena” but, the health angle will prove to be the real catalyst to attracting and retaining Spa customers.

    I would also like to congratulate you for taking up this topic since it may be helpful to many Spas that are seeking a better and more rewarding direction for the future.

    Best regards

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