See Spas Grow

By Malcolm Fleschner

Nearly everyone loves to be pampered. Yet sometimes it’s difficult to justify spending the kind of cash that often is required to give yourself first-class treatment. This may explain the growing popularity of massages and spa treatments as gifts, both in the personal and professional arenas. Resorts have caught on to this trend as well, frequently adding spas to the list of amenities offered, particularly at resorts hoping to garner a chunk of the sizable travel incentives market.

This is shaping up to be the breakout year, says Susie Ellis, president of Spa Finder, when spas will become “a hot marketing buzzword,” and when “spa-inspired tastes will become interwoven into daily American life.”

So does this mean every workplace will incorporate a jacuzzi in every restroom and offer mud baths during lunch breaks? Perhaps not. But Ellis, whose organization publishes a magazine and hosts a website directed at spa aficionados, does predict a number of spa trends for 2005 that may affect incentive offerings from many companies.

  • Deluxe treatment. With a growth in spa popularity, the high-end offerings will become more luxurious and exclusive than ever. Top designers will lend their names to spa manufacturers, and private hotel rooms will more frequently feature built-in spas.
  • Going native. Just as incentive travel planners are seeking ever-more exotic locations beyond the usual Caribbean and Hawaiian vacations, resort spas also are expanding their offerings by tapping into indigenous local traditions and cultures.
  • Green revolution. Much as organic food options and holistic medicine have grown in popularity, so-called green spas also are enjoying greater interest. A shift to organic ingredients and solar-powered lighting reflects the trend.
  • Dropping by. Just because you don’t have the time to get away from the office doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a treatment. Ready to serve these needs will be a growing fleet of mobile spas that can come to the home or office.