What’s New In Luxury Hotel Spas?

Every good hotelier knows that guests demand a decent spa.  Long gone are the days when a small room and a massage table in the bowels of a hotel constitutes a ‘spa’ which is why even historic hotels with limited space are endeavouring to meet demands. Take the Plaza Athénée in Paris for example which knocked down walls so that it could partner with the Dior Institut and Hotel Le Bristol which recently doubled the size of its spa. Luxury chains are also marketing their own branded spas hard. Witness the success of Shangri-La’s CHI spa or The Peninsula Spa by ESPA (which also operates in select One & Only resorts as well as Peninsula hotels).

So a good spa is a given, but a great spa requires constant innovation in order to appeal to sophisticated spa savvy guests.  So what are the latest luxury trends in the world of the in-house spa?

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has just released a Hilton Blue paper on ‘Emerging Global Spa Trends’.  eforea: spa at Hilton, the hotels own branded spa was created in 2010. For the paper Hilton surveyed  6,000 respondents throughout the U.S., Great Britain, Australia and China  and found that  nearly 50 percent of the respondents saw the existence of a spa as an important factor in selecting a hotel, with Chinese travelers finding it most important followed by those from Australia. The paper also highlights the significance of business travellers, who are increasingly looking for ways to ‘decompress’ between meetings and their growing importance as spa users emphasizes the need for a successful spa to  tailor its offerings to men as well as women.  A number of resorts are already responding to that trend like Southern Ocean Lodge, South Australia, which has special “Journeys for Him’ including one called ‘Remarkable Man’.  What self-respecting male could resist that? There is also the growing presence of children in the once adults only spa environment with teens, tweens and even younger being catered to on their luxury family holiday.

Another interesting trend is the pairing of fine dining with spa treatments (not to be confused with the wine ‘n spa vinotherapy trend a few years back).  This gourmet trend  is more about ‘healthy hedonism’ with  some spas offering guests packages which include shopping for food, help with cooking and attending cooking classes given by the head chef, all combined with daily spa treatments. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland, for example, offers a Feast and Nourish nutrition education, cooking and spa getaways.  Cascina Papaveri’s in Italy has a wonderfully named ‘Plates and Pilates’ retreat, pairing a famous chef with a Pilates instructor.   More hotels are also opening dedicated spa cafes, and those who aren’t are catering to healthy appetites in other ways; the Waldorf Astoria New York City for example has spa lunches which guests order on in spa iPads to be served pre or post-treatment in the lounge.

Hilary Doling
Hilary Doling
Hilary Doling is the founder of The Luxury Travel Bible, launched in April 2010 for the experience-hungry elite traveller. She is a well-respected travel expert and editor and has been getting on and off planes for twenty years since her days on London's Fleet Street. She is known for her extensive network of travel contacts worldwide and cherry picks the best.

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