Healthy hotels relax and beautify

Hotels are catching a second wind and taking their spa operations very seriously. Thanks to wellness campaigns exploding in 2013, “healthy hotels” are the next mega-trend fulfilling the profound human need to stay well on the road, making spas the epicenter for those wanting to improve, relax and beautify.

Spas have been a touchy subject in hospitality. The experience of operating or leasing space to a spa operator has had its share of ups and downs, but hotels still find spas to be an excellent way to maintain a competitive edge. Many hotels fell into the trap of running a spa as just another extension of the property, which sadly contributed to some major losses. Spas require well-trained, licensed technicians (preferably with a local following), massive marketing and a lot of pomp and circumstance unlike any other venue.

Managing a profitable operation can be tricky, as spa guests can be downright fickle with their expectations. In the U.S. market, spas are how many guests seek their R&R as well as obtain new and innovative products, services and now a mega-trend of bizarre treatments! So the retail component requires excellent sourcing and merchandising.

The following are the newest trends hitting the spa circuit today. Several of these new spa trends were provided by the 2014 Spafinder Wellness 365 Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast. Some of these new services and treatments are not only downright bizarre, but they will also require a licensed physician on your spa team.

Suspending gravity

A “suspending gravity” or “floating” trend, as it’s commonly called, is on the rise as people have an increased psychological and physical desire to disconnect from our hyper-connected society. Expect to see flotation tanks, chambers and pools in spas that project a floating-in-space type of feeling. (Devotees state they are life-changing!) If your spa includes a fitness center, there is a global craze for aerial and anti-gravity classes along with new equipment like anti-gravity treadmills.

‘Natural’ beauty meets social media

With the popularity of “selfies,” people are expected to look their best 24/7 without the benefit of makeup and blowouts — which means we may finally be leaving the era of faux beauty. In 2014, a new clean-beauty era takes shape focusing on the natural and introducing high-tech/low-risk beauty. Spas are becoming the go-to for new organic products as well as scientific technology to deliver minimal-downtime procedures resulting in a look that appears to have been produced “naturally.”

Aromatherapy: Scent with intent

As aromatherapy plays a greater role in the treatment of physical and mental issues, spas have been motivated to reimagine their approach to crafting aromatherapies with “intentional effects” vs. “pleasant” or “feel-good” treatments. Offering “effective aromatic treatments” is what this trend is about.

Surprising spa destinations

Savvy spa-goers and wellness seekers are searching for more exotic destinations to stamp on their spa passports. In 2014, look for an emergence of new travel destinations in countries like Bhutan, Ghana and Nicaragua.

Vampire facials require a doctor on staff who will draw blood and separate the plasma then infuse it with calcium and spread it over the face to stimulate collagen growth, plump the skin and volumize.

IV vitamin therapy is another licensed-physician procedure as an IV drip cocktail is administered while the guest relaxes for an hour. Since only 20% to 30% of supplements taken by mouth will find their way into the bloodstream, intravenous administration achieves a higher concentration in the blood. The goal is to administer an excess amount of hydration so your skin appears more vibrant and plump — all the better to disguise wrinkles!

Slim wraps pull toxins and water out of fat cells to tighten, reduce cellulite and combat aging. Guests are wrapped from the neck to toe in bandages soaked in organic minerals while conducting light exercise for 45 minutes. The average loss: 8-14 total inches (20-36 cm)!

Fish pedicures 

Feet are placed in water filled with garra rufa fish — a toothless species that feeds on dry, flaky skin using its suction-cup mouth! Some say the experience resembles electrical waves going through your body when they nibble. (Please check with your state requirements before offering fish pedicures.)

Kitty-litter facial

Bentonite clay is commonly found in kitty litter because it absorbs water, and it is also a great skin tightener! Kitty litter is mixed with water and natural oils such as rose and chamomile then applied to your face as a mask.

I look forward to hearing what your properties are doing to become a “healthier” and learning if you’ve experienced any of the new services. If not, please share which new spa treatment trend you will consider offering and which you would like to experience personally.