The Spa Spies have personally visited and rated almost 200 spas in the UK (more than anyone else). Plus, they are fresh from putting together their latest book, The Best Spas in Britain, so have their fingers on the spa pulse when it comes to health and beauty trends for the coming credit-crunch year.
The most important and surprising finding is this: UK spas will continue to defy the credit crunch!
People are still setting aside me-time: it is still an essential item, even in the tough current financial climate.
Anna McGrail, Managing Editor at The Good Spa Guide, reports: "We were prepared for some reining in, but it simply hasn't happened. UK spas haven't seen any downturn in bookings so far. Perhaps we all need a little TLC in stressful and uncertain times. And if you need to cut back on expensive holidays abroad, where better to get more pampering per pound than a good spa right on your doorstep?"
Koulla Joannou at lastminute.com, agrees. "Despite the economic downturn, people are not giving up on pampering - but value is the key.
So, The Good Spa Guide's top 5 predicted spa trends for 2009 are:
1 People shopping around for value packages, because they don't want to give up their mmmm-massages! Spas that tempt people through the door with unbeatable offers could well find repeat business.
2 A return to the traditional spa focus. An increasing number of people are seeking out natural, water-based treatments and therapies. Traditional spas will be very much in the zeitgeist for 2009 as people rediscover the simple pleasures of "taking the waters". We'll see a holistic approach to health on the spa menu in the coming year, too. Why have just a facial when you can book a consultation with a nutritionist or life coach at the same time? Addressing inner and outer beauty needs will be the norm.
3 More men in spas. Reluctant males being dragged to spas by their partners is a thing of the past. The Spies have noted a significant growth in numbers of the sturdier sex visiting spas voluntarily, and on their own! There has been a huge growth in male grooming facilities in spas, too, so you'll see more men enjoying a traditional wet-shave and a massage in 2009. Let's hope that spa managers take note and put more men-friendly magazines in the relaxation rooms. Our male spies hate having to lie back and read Marie Claire.
4 Local products. Where the foodie world goes, the spa world follows. Savvy spa-goers are watching their spa miles, so we'll see more product ranges on the spa menu with an emphasis on local, natural ingredients. Hand-pressed lavender oil from the Cotswolds or Jersey is in. Organic? So much the better. We'll see more spas creating their own in-house ranges so they can offer exclusive products that no-one else can. Small -- and special -- is beautiful.
5 Tailored treatments. Remember when you used to find one massage on the spa menu? Now you're looking at as many as there are months in the year. This trend will continue to grow as spas offer more and more tailored treatments and packages to target spa-goers' individual needs. One size no longer fits all.