Spa Trends

The Stats from the International Spa Association are Impressive. The spa industry is flourishing: There are 12,100 spas in the U.S. that received 136 million visits in 2003. Today's resorts and spa facilities are reaching out to all markets, indulging guests of all ages and genders. Here we discuss some recent trends, from in-room treatments to programs for men.

Spa Suites and Group Getaways

If you've recently visited a resort or destination spa, perhaps you've experienced a rose-petal footbath before your treatment, curled up in front of a fireplace sipping herbal teas in a relaxation lounge or splurged for a couple's treatment in a lavish spa suite. Spa suites, both for couples and individuals, are one of the hottest trends in the market. As a one-stop shop, so to speak, suites typically feature private dressing areas, showers and treatment beds. This allows patrons to avoid the locker room setting and waiting in a robe for the therapist. Some spas have even taken the spa suite concept a step further, adding nice touches such as herbal steam rooms and Jacuzzis for two. A man getting a facial and a massage at the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff, Canada; increasing numbers of men are visiting spas

Spa suites can also accommodate groups, which is another segment of the industry experiencing a growth spurt. According to the International Spa Association, one of the key trends for 2006 is the group market; it is expanding, with bridal parties and groups of girlfriends frequenting spas. Resorts and spas have responded to this trend with special packages catering to girlfriend getaways, as well as reduced rates for groups.

Destination spas—which offer comprehensive programs to help guide individuals on the path to a healthy lifestyle—are also a draw for groups who can vacation together, yet pursue individual interests. Facilities typically offer a broad range of spa services, as well as physical activities, health-conscious cuisine, educational classes and lectures.

Spas Increasingly Popular With Men and Youths

However, women aren't the only ones to catch on to the benefits and pleasures of spa-ing. Destination and resort spas are seeing an increase of men in their facilities. In fact, the International Spa Association reports that men account for 31 percent of spa-goers and 36 percent of spa travelers. As a result, spas are designing programs and treatments specifically for males. Fairmont's Willow Stream Spas have even designed men's locker rooms with the feel of a private golf club; in addition to darker colors and deep woods, lounges are outfitted with leather chairs and plasma TVs with wireless headsets. And to alleviate any uneasiness about wearing robes, the chain created a Keep Your Shorts On package, giving men T-shirts and athletic shorts to wear in the spa and take home after their 60-minute sports massage.

Spas, such as Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, CA, have even created programs just for men. The Gentleman's Surrender at Spa Montage is a men's-only customized spa marathon. In addition to a consultation with a Surrender team (which includes a therapist, wellness coach and personal trainer), guys participate in challenging, calming and educational activities and are given a take-home program so the benefits of their Surrender experience can continue.

Men can participate in oceanfront chi gong, a private golf lesson and game with a professional instructor, sunrise sea kayaking, Art of Shaving instruction, a gentleman's facial and a sunset wine and cheese tasting.

And while men are being inducted into the world of spa-ing, so is the younger generation of travelers. Another one of International Spa Association's key trends this year is the multi-generational appeal of spas. With family vacations on the rise, parents are introducing their children to the world of spa thanks to special services and facilities offered by resorts. Both kids and teens are learning the importance of balance, nutrition and grooming skills.

San Antonio's Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, for example, has a dedicated SPAhhhT Youth Spa open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as during most holiday vacations. Teens can sign up for such services as airbrushed tattoos, Caribbean-style hair braids and pre-teen facials. Oversized beanbags in the waiting area and colorful treatment rooms help create a comfortable environment, along with pop music and age-appropriate magazines such as Teen People and American Girl magazine.

Apparently, it's never too early (or late) to dive into the luxurious world of spa-ing.