Spa, health and wellness services in hotels

This article aims to analyze current practices, future trends and issues in hotel spa health and wellness services, briefly discussing possible development solutions for the next decade from a supply and demand perspective.

This article also extends the current perspective by examining the effect of the pandemic on the global applications of spa, health and wellness services in the hospitality and tourism industry. Better service is always possible with reliable sector analysis and a deeper understanding of customer demands.

The pursuit of spa, health and wellness services dates back centuries, becoming a valued part of everyday life in some cultures. Egyptian and Babylonian architecture shows evidence of hot springs and baths as early as 3000 BC. Later, the ancient Greeks, Native Americans, Alaskans, and Pacific Islanders all viewed spas and traditional wellness as balancing activities for health, while Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures used these traditional practices to treat illness, applying natural treatments and therapies such as Turkish baths, caves, stones, mud baths, hot springs (Japan), tai chi (China), massages and many other traditional methods.

Yet with the development of pharmaceutical and medical sciences, health and wellness practices such as healthy eating, Ayurveda, traditional Indian and Chinese medicine, music therapy, homeopathy, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathy, and many others began to lose their importance, especially in Western cultures. Although traditional spa and wellness practices have been preserved in many cultures by being passed down from generation to generation, the spa culture with its therapeutic and preventive values ​​has especially been transformed into a beauty, massage and body care industry used by hotels and spas all over the world. world.

However, spas and wellness services have begun to be sought after again for their therapeutic benefits, thus raising the following questions: Why have people started focusing on health and wellness services again? Are advanced medical treatments and applications not enough for mental and physical health and well-being?

Great confusion and uncertainty accompanied COVID-19, leading to mass deaths, strict quarantine measures, changes in work and training systems, job losses, inadequacy of health services and socio-economic instability in many countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 510,270,667 confirmed cases and 6,233,526 confirmed deaths worldwide in April 2022. Despite its devastating effects, the pandemic has created several opportunities for the spa and wellness sector, along with wellness tourism and the food and beverage industry. industry, generating opportunities for the service industry and customers looking for new trends and services.

Recent academic studies have revealed the significant negative effects of COVID-19 on mental and physical health. Therefore, the tourism, spa and wellness industry should investigate whether the proposed health and wellness concepts are effective in alleviating the psychological and physical effects of COVID-19.

For example, hot springs and thermal centers, which are an important part of spa tourism, have a unique healing effect. However, as the supply and demand system has changed in recent years, the marketing and functionality of thermal centers, especially in the use of mineral waters, should be reconsidered by the hotel and spa sector for potential customers, including the elderly, people with chronic diseases, those who avoid 3S occupations, religious groups, solo travelers and the middle-aged working class. The pandemic has created great opportunities for spas and wellness centers to reposition their wellness activities, services and products by examining current features and potential for improvement.

The survey of global spa and wellness centers and hotels reveals large differences between the US and other regions in terms of the variety of services and products. While U.S. spas and wellness resorts/centers offer spa packages, soothing treatments, all-inclusive accommodations, classes, lectures, fitness facilities, and meals for a wide range of budgets, more interesting and traditional service concepts are available globally. Today, many hotels in different regions participate in new spa and wellness trends, enhancing the range of services with traditional and local spa applications.

While some hotels add color therapy to their spa programs to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system, others offer wellness-themed hotel rooms, app-based wellness challenges, salt water therapies, local and ethnic food and drinks, infrared saunas , state-of-the-art fitness equipment, medical spas and baths using underground volcanic waters, cosmetic surgery trips, thalassotherapy centers, holistic work-life balance centers, meditation retreats and spiritual well-being retreats. As local resources and traditional methods are quite rich, spa and wellness services in many regions, including China, India, East and South Asia, Turkey and Northern Europe, have made significant progress in this industry.

For example, China has become a strong player in the global health and wellness economy. According to the 2019 Global Wellness Summit, “Traditional Chinese medicine has reached 183 countries and regions around the world, expecting a global market of about $50 billion.” Moreover, the country rose from eleventh to third place in health and wellness tourism, bringing in revenue of $31.7 billion and providing 70.2 million wellness accommodations.

The diversity of global spa and wellness services has revealed the concepts of spa and wellness tourism and wellness destination as unique tourism segments. According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor report, there was a 57% increase in wellness travel between 2015 and 2017 in emerging markets such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the other hand, Asia has been the number one growth sector in spa, health and wellness tourism over the past five years, with annual earnings reaching 258 million with a 33% increase in travel. In terms of outbound tourists, Europeans currently lead North American travelers with the highest number of tourists (291.8 million in 2017) and highest spending ($241.7 billion in 2017). The numbers reported in 2017 are slightly different for inbound tourists; The United States is in first place with 176.5 million trips and $226.0 billion spent, followed by Germany (66.1 million trips, $65.7 billion spent) and China (70.2 million trips, $31.7 billion spent ).

The 2021 Global Wellness Economy Monitor also released data on the global wellness economy, stating that “New Global Wellness Institute research – the most comprehensive in its history – reveals the wellness market grew to a record $4.9 trillion in 2019 , and then dropped to $4.4 trillion in 2019, the year of the pandemic 2020. But with consumers’ “values ​​shift” underway, the future of the wellness market is incredibly bright, projected to grow 10% annually through 2025.” These figures show that spa, health and wellness tourism is becoming increasingly popular not only in established tourist destinations but also in emerging markets around the world.

The current perspective should be developed by researching existing and new global trends in the spa and wellness market. Some developing countries are beginning to move away from traditional spas by using their natural resources and traditional healing practices. They use very simple marketing budgets, including new partner website packages, brochures, sightseeing trips and promotional campaigns, while updating regional media and significant tourism board partners about their services. Their unique selling proposition offers well-being and relaxation for spa and wellness customers.

For example, the Dead Sea, with its extremely high salt content, bordering the West Bank, Jordan and Israel, offers healing for people suffering from various ailments ranging from psoriasis to cystic fibrosis. Germany’s Baden-Baden region offers hydrotherapy and aromatherapy. India offers yoga, meditation and Ayurveda practices. Southeast Asia focuses on spiritual tourism as well as medical tourism. Japan offers hot springs and traditional spiritual practices. Sri Lanka promotes the strengths of Ayurveda, beautiful natural settings and spiritual heritage. China offers traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, qigong, meditation and martial arts. South and East Asian countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines offer more traditional healing techniques such as traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Tibetan medicine and other integrative approaches.

The Latin American and Caribbean regions, along with Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, ranked high in the thermal/mineral springs category and for beauty-enhancing treatments. Destinations like Costa Rica and Belize are known for their jungle/eco spas. The Middle East-North Africa region promotes hammam culture along with the benefits of thalassotherapy, balneotherapy and hydrotherapy. Sub-Saharan Africa offers thermal/mineral springs, mindfulness safaris, desert yoga, bush body treatments, and traditional wellness treatments such as drumming meditation, calabash massage, and zinjavo foot baths.

Turkey, Greece and Eastern European countries promote their geothermal facilities such as hot springs, mineral waters, Turkish, Greek and Roman baths, balneotherapy, mud baths, caves and phytotherapy in their spa and wellness services. Many such services are provided by luxury hotels and resorts, which increase the number of customers visiting wellness destinations. Some hotels and resorts also offer professionally designed therapies and activity programs led by health and fitness professionals (eg Canyon Ranch in Arizona, One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon in Iceland and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore). drawing on different concepts from around the world.

Travel restrictions are slowly being lifted by governments, so many people will need spiritually and physically restorative travel to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. Quality spa programs, intensive fitness boot camps, massages, meditation, yoga and relaxing retreats, filled with creative spa services and healthy food and drinks, are essential for many hotel customers who need to restore their physical and mental health and well-being. Therefore, it is better for hoteliers to implement innovative wellness services along with traditional services during this critical period.

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