As the notion of wellness matures into an increasingly global phenomenon, we are seeing an increasing level of personalisation, “healtharisation” and a wellness-integrated focus in the hospitality industry.

In this in-depth article, I explore the top 7 wellness trends that I’ve seen unfold in the hotel industry this year. Find out how you can optimise your hotel spa business and drive more revenue in 2018.

1. Rotating wellness concepts: testing your market before carving out a distinct identity

Try out your concept first, iterate if necessary, and then implement fully before jumping into a significant investment.

When it comes to wellness travel, “the best retreats work with guests to identify issues unique to them: after all, personalised treatments are more likely to equal satisfied clients,” points out luxury travel writer Nadine Jolie Courney. This year and beyond, we will see spas and wellness centres becoming even more specialised, a trend fuelled by the following two factors:

(i) A growing competition in our field, which has forced spas to find more innovative and authentic ways to differentiate themselves in the market.

(ii) An increasing number of customers searching for very specific, niche treatments that work for their particular health issues.

As stated by Alexis Ufland, Founder of Lexi Design, “consumers are flocking to niche beauty properties that focus on one thing only.” Some of the most popular spas and wellness centres in the world have built their success by “carving out a distinct identity,” adds Ufland.

Apart from designing unique and tailored treatment and services’, we will see hoteliers opt for an array of temporary and rotating concepts to address guests’ different wellness needs, instead of implementing a physical “one-size-fits-all” solution. By favoring this more “lean business” approach, hoteliers will be in a position to make more informed wellness investments. They will be able to try out their concept, gauge the reception, iterate if necessary, and then implement fully before jumping into a significant investment.

2. ‘Healtharisation’ of hotels: Welcoming wellness as a state of mind

The destinations that offer truly innovative wellbeing experiences will be the hospitality success stories of tomorrow.

“People are very focused on living a healthy lifestyle and are interested in improving their day-to-day lives. They increasingly want spa treatments and services that integrate a holistic approach,” says Kristin Carpenter, Director of Qua Baths & Spa at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

This continuing demand for a more integral approach to wellness will create a strong connection between hotels and their overall surroundings. The destinations that offer truly innovative well-being experiences will be the hospitality success stories of tomorrow. In 2018 and beyond, we expect to see hotels working together with the destination to offer authentic well-being experiences.

In this context of healthy living, preventive health holidays will become increasingly popular. By bringing together “comprehensive health check-up, counselling and spa therapies” these kinds of structures will become even more appealing for all of those who are looking for disease prevention treatments. The medical ingredient already present in the offering of the wellness industry will become even more sophisticated this year.

3. Specialist knowledge: forging strategic partnerships to gain specific know-how

As the wellness sector continues to become more diverse, accessible and specialised, there will be a growing demand for specialists and specific know-how.

As the wellness sector continues to become more diverse, accessible and specialised, there will be a growing demand for specialists and specific know-how. In 2018 and beyond, we will see the following:

(i) The emergence of top class, quality wellness experts across the globe make an international name for themselves and offer their services. Examples include, visiting practitioners such as Martha Soffer, an internationally acclaimed Ayurvedic Panchakarma expert, and Susan Hepburn, a world leading expert on weight loss. More spas and wellness centres will reinforce their treatment menus with a calendar of visiting practitionersand gurus, ranging from athletes and chefs promoting “sane eating”, to doctors and spiritual healers. For example, the spa at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles.

(ii) Mergers between the hospitality and wellness sectors. Gone are the days when hotels could kit out a small room into a gym with a home bike or treadmill. Travellers today want to see and use equipment that is as good as the equipment in the gyms they have back home. Specialist companies like Technogym have already developed close relationships with hotels offering personalised equipment solutions, including their wellness cloud app. In 2018 and the coming years, hotels will continue to recognise the value of creating strategic partnerships with key leaders from the wellness industry in order to maintain their competitive edge. Such has been the case with Hyatt Hotels’ purchase of Miraval and Exhale.

4. Retail revisited: Welcome to the digital world

Spas will need to rethink how and what they sell.

The traditional way of selling in a spa will change. Spas will need to rethink how and what they sell. While cosmetic products will always be sold, spas will need to stock more local and authentic retail and merchandising products that enhance the overall wellness experience of hotel guests.

With the increasing digitalisation of the world, consumers now have more access than ever to useful information on types of products, their ingredients and benefits. The Gen x and y already favour buying over the internet than in person. Hotel spas will need to up their game when it comes to how they sell and prescribe products, both online and offline.

5. Wellness architecture: environments that promote wellbeing

Customers demand innovative facilities that meet their need of spaces that are not only beautiful, but also comfortable, healthy, functional and sustainable.

The notion of incorporating wellbeing and considering human health in buildings is not new. Feng Shui and Vastu Shashtra have already been incorporating these principles for millennia. However, with the recent and growing concern of quality of air and spaces for human health, we are witnessing the re-emergence of notion of wellness in architecture. In 2018 and beyond, customers will demand innovative facilities that meet their needs of spaces that are not only beautiful, but also comfortable, healthy, functional and sustainable. We will see more and more spas incorporating greenery and water into their spaces along with a general design that stimulates the full sensorial experience of the customers.

This trend will be particularly significant for the hospitality industry. Considering that wellness is no longer optional, hotels will pay close attention to the design and architecture of spaces that promote human health. From lobby spaces being redesigned to conference rooms made more interactive and fun, this year hotels will be focusing on building environments that promote well-being

6. Technology finds new ways into the wellness experience

Hotels will embrace technology to truly personalise the wellness experiences of their guests – be it healthy eating options, a special pillow, a certain scent to enhance sleep or a yoga session in the morning.

Technology is having a growing influence across all sectors, and the spa and wellness industries are no different. Finding new ways to incorporate technology in our industry, “may be the number one trend in wellness we’re going to see this year and beyond“, according to Elizabeth Bromstein for Spa Executive. While most spa-goers use their wellness trips to escape from the burden of our highly technological and automated world, there are several ways in which the spa industry will embrace technology this year.

Some examples include high-tech treatments (e.g. LED lights or Multiplex technology for anti-aging), complex wearable devices that track your biomarkers, smart spa facilities, AI and robots capable of controlling the conditions of your environment, and virtual reality add-ons that transport guests to relaxing places around the world.

As far as hotels go, 2018 may be the year where the idea of the ‘healthy room’ (designed with technological devices such as dawn simulator alarm clocks and special air purification systems) takes centre stage. We will see hotels embracing technology to truly personalise the wellness experiences of their guests – be it healthy eating options, a special pillow, a certain scent to enhance sleep or a yoga session in the morning. As stated by Michael Newcombe, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, having a “room product dedicated to supporting a wellness-based lifestyle while on the road… is a choice that hoteliers will have to get used to.”

7. Space is king!

We will see more stringent control over spa and wellness facility concept and size, including location.

Space will indeed be king, particularly in urban settings, where every square metre counts. This year and beyond, we will see different departments compete for prime spots within the hotel. The growing interest of hotel groups favouring an asset-light business model will force hoteliers to be more savvy about researching what their consumers actually want, before allocating a specific space to each of its offerings.

Additionally, as the spa and wellness industries develop, it is becoming increasingly evident that having a full-blown spa with hydrothermal facilities is not always relevant in every hotel. We’ll see more stringent control over spa and wellness facility concept and size, including location.

These are our top seven hotel spa business trends for 2018. Want to make sure your hotel spa business is on trend for 2018? Email me at sonaluberoi@spa-balance and let’s discuss how I can help you optimise your business.

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