The spa and wellness industry is constantly coming up with innovative treatments and unique experiences to cater to clients’ wellbeing. From diving into the digital world to making the most of the tools nature gives us, there is plenty on offer for spas looking to enhance their wellness offering this year.
Closer look: Technology
The world has become ever-more reliant on technology, and although traditional, hands-on treatments will always have a place in spas, more establishments are starting to adopt a tech-led approach.
This technological treatment boom can partly be traced back to the abundance of home-use tech, which is now easily accessible to many consumers, and which experienced a boom of its own during the pandemic when people couldn’t receive professional treatments.
Melissa Mitchelmore, a former spa manager and the founder of social media marketing agency Savoir Socials, explains, “As homecare abilities advance and grow in both products and devices, our expectation of what we can receive professionally only grows too.
“There’s no doubt that hands-on treatments are effective and relaxing, but the need for non-invasive results has and will only continue to grow. The Global Wellness Institute’s reports have suggested that the future of wellness could be much more hands-off, and it certainly is.”
Spa guests are also looking for more costeffective, 360-degree and long-term solutions to wellness, which technology can help to provide. Sarah-Jayne Tipper, clinical training director at Pure Swiss Aesthetics, says, “With an enhanced focus and increased awareness on healthy ageing, wellness and longevity, it is no wonder that spas are looking to make inroads into bridging the traditional spa menu with technology-led solutions.
“With spas becoming more accessible and multifunctional, along with a shift in consumer attitudes, guests are looking for multilayered and cutting-edge nonsurgical treatments, within a relaxed setting, that offers remodelling and enhanced results all under one roof.”
Technology can be included in spas in a number of ways, including infrared saunas, floatation pods, and digital skincare devices that incorporate LED or radiofrequency. Mitchelmore points to the virtual reality meditation being implemented at Re:treat at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester as an example, while Tipper adds, “Another big advancement in recent months has been the increased awareness around immunity and gut support; we have seen many destinations revamping their lymphatic drainage approach and incorporating this into their lounges and therapy rooms.”
Both believe the tech trend is here to stay, although exactly what this could look like might be hard to tell. “It’s only a matter of time before artificial intelligence advances what we can offer within spas,” says Mitchelmore. “I hope to see it provide a more tailored treatment to clients providing amazing results for both our wellness and appearance.”
If in doubt, opt for a device or machine that has multiple uses or benefits.
“Multifunctional treatments are key,” says Tipper. “Spas should look to futureproof their treatment rooms with equipment designed to enhance services and provide effective and immediate results. Combining technologies in one treatment for face and body is also a must for savvy clients wanting a 360 -degree, costeffective approach.”
Closer look: Multisensory wellness
Beauty and wellness services are becoming more sensorial, engaging all five senses to deliver an immersive experience that leaves clients feeling rejuvenated long after their treatment – and these multisensory experiences are becoming more commonplace.
“There are a couple of reasons for this,” says Antonia David, head of education at spa skincare brand Elemental Herbology. “Firstly, spa visits are gradually becoming more of an essential part of mental and physical health maintenance instead of the luxurious treat that they were once considered to be, and this, along with the rise in wellness tourism, means there is now a greater number of regular spa goers looking for a more sophisticated spa experience rather than ‘just’ a massage or a facial.
“Secondly, the pandemic forced many of us to re-evaluate not just our physical and mental wellbeing, but also how our immediate environment affects how we feel. With this has come a greater awareness of how we can use our senses to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our body’s ‘rest and digest’ response – from something very simple such as using a weighted blanket, a relaxing scent or guided meditation to help us sleep, to having all five of our senses engaged during a spa experience to transport us to a state of deep relaxation and inner peace.”
Touch and tactility are some of the most powerful senses connected with beauty, with a growing interest in temperature-driven experiences such as cryotherapy. Another important sense that is easy to engage in a spa environment is smell.
Christina Salcedas, global head of education at Aromatherapy Associates, explains, “One of the easiest ways to incorporate a multisensory wellness experience to your spa is by creating a scent journey throughout. From the reception area to your treatment rooms, from your gym to your relaxation area. Scent them with different aromas that induce a sense of relaxation where needed, or a scent to promote energy in a gym.”
As clients increasingly prioritise holistic health, access to other forms of treatment, including sensorial therapy, is expanding, with energy healing, chromatherapy, reiki and sound baths becoming popular for enhancing mental and emotional wellbeing.
Trends in brief
• Mixed reality: The blend of physical and digital world doesn’t just benefit gamers – it can also play a role in your spa’s fitness offering. Fitness brands like Les Mills are using this as an opportunity to get harder-to-reach audiences more active. Rachael Newsham, Les Mills programme director and instructor, explains, “Mixed reality is the new and immersive way to bring fitness motivation to the masses. Fusing the real world with virtual training spaces where people are transported through the music, design innovation and incredible tech, helps break down barriers to exercise.”
• Multi-generational experiences: The pandemic was a very real reminder that we shouldn’t take the time we have with our loved ones for granted. Wellness holidays that cater to each generation of the family provide the perfect opportunity to share experiences and create memories. More experiences are being arranged and even paid for by grandparents to help make that bucket-list experience possible for their families.
• Exploring cultures: It’s easier than ever to travel the world, opening doors for the exploration of cultures wildly different to the ones people are accustomed to. Wellness enthusiasts are looking to combine their love for wellbeing with their passion to discover different ways of life, fostering personal growth and enriching their worldly perspective.
• Immersing in nature: Forest bathing, sea lane swimming pools and pop-up saunas by the sea were among the trends we saw in 2023. Natural environments provide some of the best all-round health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion, as well as allowing people to prioritise their mental wellbeing away from fast-paced city life.
Emma Heard, a reiki master (Eastern and Western lineages), meditation guide and crystal healing therapist, says, “Engaging the five senses appropriately provides a strong foundation for any energy treatment or simply for bringing positive, healing, rejuvenating energy to any therapy.
“The ways in which a therapist treats the five senses in a therapy room are all contributing to the energy they are creating in the room and how receptive their client is to that energy. Smells, sounds, lighting, food and drinks all carry different vibrations. Vibration creates energy.”
She adds, “The biggest contributor to the energy state in the room is the therapist themself and the therapists and clients that have been in the same room before them. So many therapists are focused on treating the client that they don’t pay attention to the way they feel themselves, but the energy the therapist emanates has a profound effect on the benefit the client gets from the treatment.”
If therapists don’t have training in energy practices such as reiki, Heard says the best way to bring good energy into the room is to clear the existing energy then take a short time before the session to centre themselves. “There are lots of practical things we do all the time that help to clear a room of any heavy or negative energies,” she adds. “We open windows or doors, wipe the side down, change linen or towels, light new candles. Movement helps any heavy energy to shift too, so shake things out, waft some incense or use an organic herbal spray.”
Looking to the future of multisensory wellness, David says: “Techniques to engage individual senses – such as chromotherapy, cryotherapy and sound therapy - will become more integral components of a spa experience. Additionally, we will see an increase in the use of curated combinations of light, sound and fragrance designed to connect with the essence of the spa and its surroundings.”
Salcedas agrees with this incorporation of the local environment, saying, “Personally, I would like to see the use of local rituals and ingredients make a return to spas to create unique multisensorial experiences. For example, if you visit a spa in Madeira where wild jasmine, aloe vera and cucumber grow natively, or in an English country estate growing lavender, you would expect to see those ingredients incorporated into treatment menus.”
Find out more about the latest spa trends set to dominate the industry at the World Spa & Wellness Convention on March 3-4 at ExCeL London. Visit professionalbeauty.co.uk/wswlondon to reserve your delegate pass.