For some travelers, a trip to the spa is a required part of any vacation. For others, the spa visit is the vacation.
The Spa Vacation Boom
Spa vacations are booming in popularity. A 2013 International Spa Association study found that spa revenue reached a record $14 billion. Visits increased from 150 million in 2010 to 160 million in 2012. And the Global Wellness Tourism Congress predicts that the spa and wellness category will grow by about 10% over the next five years – almost twice the rate of global tourism overall.
Who’s Visiting Spas?
- According to Spafinder Wellness 365, a spa and wellness industry organization, the top demographic booking spa vacations is the 46–55 year old set, generally made up of the youngest Baby Boomers. They’re followed very closely by Generation X, those aged 36–45.
- Women traveling together make up the largest group of spa vacationers, says Spafinder Wellness 365.
- The International Spa Association says men now make up 47% of U.S. spa visitors.
Spa travel is “getting more popular every day and has increased a lot over the last five years,” says Mexico City-based Virtuoso travel advisor Patricia Carranza. Her spa-bound clients include couples from 30 to 55, and “more men in the last five years.”
Eleanor Nelson’s spa-going clients are often groups of women heading on a girlfriend getaway. One particular group of clients has made visiting a spa on vacation a second-generation tradition. “It started with a group of friends,” explains the Barrington, Illinois-based Virtuoso travel advisor, “and then their daughters grew up and now they go, too.”
Arnaud Dieutegard, spa manager at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora in French Polynesia, a Virtuoso property, notes that modern spas are definitely appealing to more than just traditional clientele: “One couple was celebrating their anniversary, and the husband had no interest in joining his wife at the spa. His wife pleaded with him to join her for one couple’s treatment in the spa suite – he very reluctantly agreed, and insisted it be on the first day, so he could “get it over with.” He obviously enjoyed, as he returned to the spa four times during their week there (once even on his own)!”
Distinctive Spa Vacation Experiences
Just as the profile of the typical spa traveler has broadened, so has the type of venue offering treatments. Spas aren’t just for resorts any more. Virtually every large high-end hotel offers a relaxing oasis for guests. One way properties differentiate their spas is through destination-specific treatments.
“The majority of our spa guests are looking for something local and authentic – something they would not be able to experience back home,” says Dieutegard, whose Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora offers clients of Virtuoso travel advisors a complimentary $100 US spa services credit. Treatments there incorporate the natural ingredients of French Polynesia, such as monoi and vanilla.
Another Virtuoso property featuring a renowned spa vacation experience is Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach. The treatment that has guests swooning these days: Muscle Melt for Road Warriors, a combination of Thai massage and stretching with warm herbal pouches pressed firmly into the muscles. Mindlink Couples Relaxation Therapy, using paired tables with matching vibration and soundwaves, is also popular. Clients of Virtuoso member advisors receive a complimentary $100 US spa services credit there.
Tips to Get the Most from Your Spa Vacation
- Ask your travel advisor to reserve spa services before your trip, as there’s nothing worse than finding out the facility is booked up on the day you have your heart set on a massage or facial.
- Stay for a half or even full day rather than just a single treatment. You’ll get more benefit out of the experience if you take your time and savor the atmosphere. Most spas will arrange for food to be brought in if you’re there over a mealtime.
- Reserve one of the spa’s packages of services. You’ll likely enjoy better value and more relaxation.
- Book appointments with your travel companions. If you’re on a girls’ getaway or a trip with family members, consider a mani-pedi side by side. Away with your significant other? Indulge in a couples’ massage.
- If the spa has a signature treatment, get it. Many offer distinctive rituals with local techniques or ingredients you can’t enjoy back home.
- Get extra value for your spa vacation by booking through a Virtuoso travel advisor. Many hotels and resorts offer a complimentary spa credit exclusively to travelers who book with a Virtuoso advisor. Looking for a travel advisor who specializes in spa travel? Click here to find one at virtuoso.com.