The emergence of spas is not recent. Earlier spas were located near a natural spring offering holistic wellness treatment to the visiting public. The term is more than often referred in conjunction with healing and curing than wellness. Spas got a make over from the Roman royals. They developed spas with a touch of class and a feel of luxury. In fact, they started using spas more or less like wellness centres, soaking in spring water, taking steam or hot air bath in a marble clad chamber, giving the body the luxury of soft massage, taking a cool dip in spring water and finishing with a relaxing drink.
Present day hectic pace of life, a busy social lifestyle of the lap top carrying corporate executives has created a profitable business opportunity for the hospitality industry – wellness travel. The concept of wellness is quite different than curative or medical travel. Wellness is for healthy people wanting to live healthier, whereas medical travel is for patients wanting to get well. This fine distinction makes wellness travel or spa tourism an interesting marketing proposition.
The term spa is derived from its Latin origin – salus per aquam, literally translating as water gifted health. No wonder then that the earlier wellness spots were located near natural springs as aqua therapy is considered mother of all detox therapies. The German health destinations like Baden Baden and Bad Neunehar, to name a few, have the prefix Bad, meaning spa or literally bath. Spa hotels and resorts today offer holistic wellness, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual in luxurious surroundings and atmosphere.
According to the first ever spa report published by Christine Tetreault at the 2008 Global Spa Summit in New York, the global spa economy stood at US$ 250 billion. This confirms the fact that the economic slow down had no impact on wellness business.
Spa business has come of age generating employment opportunities by millions. It has become very focused, specialised and professional. Spas can be classified into three categories – the day spa, offering a specific therapy, destination spa- as the name suggests, these are spas where guests stay, get healthier, have an entertaining time as the spa offers a whole range of body pampering treatments and therapies, and finally the medical spas which are more on clinical and medicine based treatments. The industry thrives on day spas in the city hotels and destination spas in resort hotels.
Spa planning for a luxury city hotel and a spa resort is a very complex exercise. Since wellness is the main marketing tool, the planning and implementing team must be fully aware of various processes and procedures, the flow of activity, space planning, knowledge of latest spa, gym and therapy equipments, technology, lay outs etc. The spa planning and executing team normally consists of a technical resource, interior decorator and the facility planner.
Staff in a spa plays an important role. They are educated and well trained in various therapies, processes and operations. These include massages – Swedish, Thai, deep tissue etc, water therapies like flotation, water dance, Jacuzzi etc. Most spas offer yoga sessions and various alternate therapies like Chinese, Egyptian and many more.
Wellness being the focus of the entire concept, beauty therapies become an integral part of a spa. These are available for both men and women. The beauty segment includes areas like hair, facial and body treatments. Food and nutrition counselling is part of spa management for the resident and day spa users.
A well-planned spa hotel or a spa resort has all the essentials of a luxury city hotel or a luxury resort hotel. Wellness becomes the core activity for the guests as well as the management. Well appointed guest rooms, state of the art fitted bath rooms, a wow lobby, gourmet restaurants, bars, discotheque, lounges, business centre, swimming pool and sports complex etc make the product complete.
As we look ahead, we must remember that enjoying good health and well being is the most desired wish of humans, the demand for a luxury, upscale spa hotel or spa resort will always remain high, it is an evergreen business niche. Forget get well! Keep well! is the mantra for a beautiful and enjoyable life.
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