|The Hotel Spa of the Future: A Healthy Check-in?|
By Melanie Nayer ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Wednesday, 29th May 2013
Exclusive Feature: The Spa, it's often one of the best parts of the hotel experience; I'm writing this column from the spa at Blantyre Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Just outside the treatment rooms of this cozy little carriage house sits a closed-in glass-wall jacuzzi area, complete with lounge chairs and tables for dining, catching up with friends, or in my case, working. It's where people start and end their treatments, and could easily pass half a day wrapped in an oversized robe, nibbling on the complimentary fruit, nuts, and ice cream bars.
The hotel spa is where many guests, if you're lucky to have time on your hands, put the most effort. And by effort, I mean time. But what is the future of the spa? How will it grow and become a destination all on its own? What will be it's next chapter in the hotel industry, or as a stand-alone business? Even more interesting -- what will be the next big trend in spas? These are the questions Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder in New York, is determined to answer.
Spas have gone from a simple massage and facial menu to the all-encompassing, day-long, tech-infused health transcending treatments. Take for the example the Eau Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach. This expansive spa has everything you could want on the treatment, and then some.
Its garden area is a secret hideaway for spa-goers wanting to take in some sunlight before submersing themselves in the dark treatment rooms; the relaxation area serves complimentary cupcakes and champagne; there's even a scrub bar, where guests can mix their own body scrub and lotions to use in the spa's wet area.
And then there's the uber-techy futurist spa treatment that is said to be a miracle worker for jetalgged, overworked, tired travelers - the Sensory Dry Float Bed. A first of its kind in the U.S., just 25-minutes in this "floating bed" is said to be equal to a full 8 hours of sleep. I was skeptical at first, but after being wrapped up in a warm blanket and placed in this cloud-like cocoon, I didn't want to be anywhere else.
Ellis calls this the "wellness everywhere" spa concept. We first saw it with Westin's "Heavenly" beds, and then watched as hotels around the world began rolling out their individual wellness ideas, including health-conscious mini-bars, in-room exercise equipment, and even the Sleep Concierge (like the one at The Benjamin in New York City). The ultimate hotel health act came when IHG announced it would open EVEN, the first health-branded hotel concept. So what's next?
According to Ellis, by 2020 the health issues of travelers will be even more extreme than they are today. Stress, chronic disease and obesity will be at an all-time high, and hotels and spas will have to accommodate to the even more over-worked guest. No longer will things like fitness centers and spas be considered "amenities," said Ellis. They'll be necessities.
The future of the hotel spa is shaping up to be a health haven - a place where guests can check in when they need it most, and check-out when they feel they've accomplished something transformational. Sound a bit scientific? Possibly. But consider this: wouldn't a healthier traveler be a more productive one?
Readers: Your thoughts? What do you think will become of hotel spas?
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Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.
Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com