Being There

It’s a travel conundrum. People go on vacation looking for a break from work, school and the daily humdrum of life, but once they return from the whirlwind trip, many report feeling more tired than when they left. A recent Spafinder Wellness 365 consumer survey found that 85 percent of people have returned from a vacation less rejuvenated than when they left. Well, “no more,” these travelers say. This issue is driving a new trend called wellness travel, and it has many different levels. Some travelers make it the sole purpose of their trip and seek out dedicated wellness retreats. Others are looking to tie wellness into their overall itinerary – today, the Taj Mahal, tomorrow, extensive sessions in yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. 

According to the Spafinder report, travelers now want more “wellness” incorporated into their travel destinations. Eighty-seven percent want healthier food, 82 percent seek out nature experiences, 73 percent look for eco-conscious properties, 70 percent want gyms equipped with cardio and weights, 54 percent are looking for sleep programs and 47 percent would like meditation and mindfulness programming made available. One of the biggest boons of this growing trend has been in the spa industry, with 82 percent reporting they want to incorporate spa visits into their vacation. According to the International Spa Association (ISPA), the U.S. spa industry reached its highest numbers ever last year. 

ISPA’s findings reveal that operating spa establishments have increased by nearly 500 percent since it conducted its inaugural study in 1999. In 1999 there were 1.5 spas for every 100,000 people living in the United States, compared to 6.4 spas per 100,000 people at the end of 2013. From 2012 to 2013, spa revenue increased 5 percent to $14.7 billion, and the number of spa visits increased 2.5 percent. From 2012 to 2013 the number of locations also grew from 19,960 to 20,180, and revenue per visit ticked up slightly from $87 to $89. 

Consulting firm PKF Consulting USA says the industry is expected to continue growing. 

“Due to its historical stigma as a luxurious amenity, spa revenue initially lagged behind the growth of other revenue sources during the early stages of the recovery,” explains Andrea Foster, vice president and national director of spa and wellness consulting for PKF Consulting. “However, the [increase] in spa revenue is a trend we anticipated would occur. There has been a notable shift to wellness, specifically taking better care of ourselves for improved health and quality of life.” 

Massage, skincare and body work treatments generate the most revenue at hotel spas, accounting for 72.6 percent of total spa revenue. 

“Though difficult to quantify the full economic effect of spas, we expect their impact to expand in the coming years,” Foster states. “With a shifting focus to healthier lifestyles, born of both growing awareness and of necessity with our population’s poor health and resulting increases in healthcare costs, we expect to see more demand for spa and wellness-related services and experiences, both within the spa itself and beyond the spa walls in other areas of the hotel.” 


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