After a year of uncertainty, the spa/wellness industry is beginning to see the light, with fully booked treatment rooms, a host of new treatments to try, and plenty of helpful gadgets to buy. The key to survival? The ability to evolve and think outside the box, with plenty of investment happening behind closed doors and a re-think of the spa offering. The result: a more nurturing, more empathetic experience. Long may it continue.
The future’s light
The loneliness many people experienced during the pandemic has encouraged us to reach out, and an element of that human kindness is seeping into spas, with treatments aimed at relaxation and emotional wellbeing proving more popular than bootcamps and anti-ageing.
The summer’s rewilding trend of immersing ourselves in nature is also set to continue until the end of 2022 – albeit in shorter, weather-dependent bursts until the sun returns. Those spas with meadows, lakeside accommodation and forest treehouses will continue to welcome wellness seekers yearning for the great outdoors.
Equally, therapists are expecting to see a rise in solo spa-going, with wellness breaks regarded less of a special treat with your bestie than a vital routine in our calendars. More people are peeling away from their tribes to check into a sleep retreat or self-improvement weekend – or just bunk off for an afternoon at their local wellness centre. Even companies are seeking wellness ideas for their staff.
Alternative therapies, such as sound baths, light therapy, sleep therapies, energy healing and Ayurveda, are gaining currency in the high-end spa market, too, with the rise of brands including ila, Elemental Herbology and The Organic Pharmacy – which you might even see alongside CBD oils from OTO CBD. Small, ethical brands such as Oxford’s Tribe517 are set to take on the bigger names as we continue to look for environmentally friendly products made closer to home.
Tech for wellness
Of course, if the pandemic has taught us one wellness lesson, it’s that you don’t have to check into a rural retreat – or even open your front door – to boost your wellbeing. After all, we conduct entire relationships via WhatsApp, and Zoom has become a household name... conducting therapy over a smartphone seems no crazier than commuting to a small treatment room.
Apps such as MyTherapy, Breathe2Relax, Moody Month and MoodTracker help us meditate, track our moods and keep us in harmony with our hormone cycles, as well as offering life coaching. Tech wearables – bracelets, rings, and headbands – have turned the art of staying well-balanced into a science, monitoring our glucose levels, heart rates and steps, and even calculating our stress levels.
The latest Apple Watch uses a built-in blood-oxygen monitor to sense quick and shallow breathing and help detect panic attacks, while the upcoming Fitbit Sense can track stress through the skin’s electrodermal (electrical) activity. Headbands such as Cove, meanwhile, vibrate to soothe our brain waves and encourage sleep – something we all need to stay healthy.
The younger generation will continue to use technology as a pre-cursor to staying well, with prevention the desired outcome over cure. Connected devices and fitness/body scans are key, with more spas investing in investigative equipment in their gyms, as well as in-house nutritionists, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and Naturopaths for all-round health.
Food for thought
The veganism food movement continues to grow in popularity as concern for the environment rises; evidence also points to more dietary intolerances and allergies, as well as further demand for vegetarian and pescatarian dishes.
Feasting in your robe may be an intrinsic part of the spa day but if spa cafes don’t take a good look at their menus in the future, they will get left behind. Simply catering for dietary requirements as an aside will not cut the mustard anymore, with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes needing to take centre stage.
Tee-totallers and drivers unable to indulge in a glass of fizz should also be offered non-alcoholic alternatives going forwards, with Heineken 0%, Noseccoo (non-alcoholic Prosecco) or Wildlife Botanicals’ Bubbles with Benefits more readily available in spa cafes.
Spas will also continue to try and source their produce locally, with more outdoor space being turned into herb gardens or allotments for food production at home.
Places to visit this year
There’s no better place to rewild than in the picture-perfect, nature-abundant Cotswolds, home to the Bamford Haybarn Spa at Daylesford organic farm, winner of Best New Spa in the 2021 Good Spa Awards. With a farm shop, café, cookery school, and spa, you will feel instantly soothed by the country views through floor-to-ceiling windows, surrounded by a calming palette of creams and whites. Treatments go beyond the norm, with shiatsu, lymphatic drainage and Dr Hauschka facials on the menu, while two resident yoga instructors regularly set up camp to offer retreats.
If big and grand is more your thing, point your carriage up the driveway of the brand new Fairmont Windsor Park, a remarkable property set in 40 acres of Windsor parkland. At 2,500sq metres, the world-class spa is as extensive as it is sleek, with indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a Cryotherapy chamber, a Japanese Ashiyu foot ritual bath, two gyms, sports rehabilitation, a floatation tank and expert European skincare.
When it comes to hotly anticipated new wellness havens, Devon’s recently opened Harbour Beach Club Hotel & Spa has quickly justified the pent-up excitement. Located on Salcombe’s pristine South Sands Beach, the architecturally designed structure – all whitewash and glass – will induce envy in any designer, but they will surely be consoled by the ocean views from the 50 rooms and suites’ large balconies. Opening in January, the hotel’s Beach Club Spa will offer an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and five treatment rooms offering marine-inspired andTemple Spa treatments.
So, whether its ground-breaking treatments, brand new spas, more mindfulness, technological advances or a wider culinary offering, the spa and wellness the industry will most certainly continue to evolve in 2022 - for the better.