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Top tips and trends for spa and wellness

Aspire, the luxury travel club from the Travel Weekly Group, host exclusive morning briefings centring around a panel debate on a topical issue on an invite-only basis to more than 100 of the most senior figures in the UK travel industry.

Last week saw the third Aspire Business Breakfast with Spa and Wellness as the topic of conversation and I was lucky enough to receive an invite.

Held at Ham Yard hotel, Firmdale’s latest addition and a lovely boutique property in the centre of Soho, the panel consisted of Paula Perkins, director of spa development at Espa, Stella Photi, founder of Wellbeing Escapes, Hans-Peter Veit, spa manager at Brenners Park Hotel & Spa, and Anni Hood from the Global Wellness Tourism Congress.

Top six tips from the spa and wellness professionals:

  • Individualisation and personalisation are key– brands and hotels need to guide the client towards the most appropriate wellness solution for them
  • Flexibility – it is important that wellness journeys are flexible and can be adapted as the client moves through the process
  • Authenticity – people want to learn about the wellness practices of the destination they are in rather than practice Balinese therapy in Turkey
  • Mindfulness – whilst weight loss and detox holidays continue to lead the market, a new trend has emerged for mental wellbeing holidays, focusing on mindfulness and meditation – something which is of increasing important in the frenetic lives we lead
  • Welcoming – with a huge number of solo travellers (Wellbeing Escapes note 80%), it is of huge importance that individuals are made to feel comfortable
  • Stick to the basics - approx. 2% of spa bookings are for signature treatments – whilst useful for PR purposes, traditional massage and facial treatments remain the most popular.

Top spa and wellness trends:

The spa industry grew 58% from 2007-2013: from $60 billion to $94 billion, with a 47% growth in spa locations, to reach 105,591 spas

Wellness tourism expanded to $494 billion in revenues, rising 12.5% from 2012-2013 -significantly outpacing SRI’s original growth forecast of 9%.

As a $494 billion industry, wellness tourism represents more than one in seven (14.6%) of all travel dollars spent worldwide

Wellness-focused trips jumped from 524 million to 586.5 million from 2012-2013

Wellness tourists remain big spenders: international wellness travellers spend 59% more than the average border-crossing tourist, while domestic wellness tourists spend 159% more

SRI makes the crucial distinction between “primary” wellness tourists (where wellness is the motivating reason for the trip) and the “secondary” variety (people opting for wellness-related activities as part of a trip). The former remains the more niche group (13% of the market), and primary wellness tourism trips grew 11.2% - while secondary-purpose trips grew 11.9% - last year.

Domestic wellness trips (the lion’s share of the market, at 68% of spend) grew 12.1%, while international trips grew 10.1%.

North America ($196.5 billion market, 8% growth 2012-2013) and Europe ($178.1 billion, 12% growth) firmly remain the largest markets. But the developing story is again developing nations: Sub-Saharan African wellness tourism grew 57%; Middle East/North African 39%; Asia-Pacific 21% and Latin America 16%, between 2012-2013.

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