Top 10 spa trends for 2012

What emerging trends are shaping the world of spa in the new year? Here’s what you can expect to see more of in 2012 at your local spa, according to Spafinder’s 2012 Spa Trends Report.

1) Healthy Feet Treatments

Taking care of your feet is crucial to your overall health. With 33 joints and 26 bones wrapped in 126 muscles, nerves and ligaments, the human foot is a complex part of the body that we use more than any other. The average person spends four hours (or 8,000 to 10,000 steps) on their feet every single day.

Fashion trends consisting of unsupportive footwear (like high heels, ballet flats and foot gloves) combined with the global obesity and diabetes epidemic and an aging population have resulted in more people than ever suffering from a myriad of foot issues.

Medical experts say that high heels are a big reason why four out of five women now suffer from foot problems including plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, corns, metatarsalgia, flat feet, Achilles tendonitis, Hagland’s deformity — also known as “pump bump” — and arthritis.

All of this means there is a big market for luxury foot treatments at the spa, and this will definitely come into play in 2012. Programs like the “Healthy Feet” treatment at Canyon Ranch SpaClub, “foot fitness” bootcamps, and podiatrist overseen “medi-pedi’s” are just the beginning. Watch for “feet only” spas to start popping up around the world.

2) Cold and Ice are Hot

Heat has always played a big role in the spa world, but look for cold to take center stage this year. Heat has long been known for its ability to help us relax, detoxify, sweat and draw blood to the surface — and now more spas are contrasting it with the beneficial effects of cold. The new year will usher in more cold design experiences, icy therapies, and hot/cold contrast treatments that will reduce pain and inflammation in joints and muscles and release endorphins.

3) Wellness and Beauty Coaching

Coaching is a way for those seeking treatment to retain the benefits long term. The spa industry is in a good position to deliver preventative “healthcare” and teach clients how to make long lasting lifestyle changes — which is a key way to prevent disease and maintain optimal health. Destination spas are taking the lead on this trend with “Integrative Wellness” programs, “Life Enhancement Coaching” and “Follow Up At Home” programs.

4) Online Wellness Gaming

Currently, over half a billion people play games online for an hour each and every day around the world. After the success of games like Wii “Fit” and Nintendo’s “Let’s Yoga,” spa-themed games such as Sallie Spa, Sara’s Super Spa or Spa Mania are becoming more popular. There is a power in gaming, and the competitive and social component can be more motivating than simply trying to follow doctor’s orders. Adding a fun or social element to a health routine helps people stay on track with their health goals.

5) Pairing Fine Dining and Spa-ing

Hotels and resorts have provided fine dining and excellent spas for decades now, but only recently has it been marketed together as a package. This new “lifestyle” combo caters perfectly to the upscale foodie who also enjoys spa time. This year will see more travellers choosing their destination based on the availability of this combination.

6) Vibration, Sound, Music, Light and Color Therapies

Although spas have already used these technologies in the past, this year they will become the main event. Traditionally, spas have focused on the sense of touch through massage and the sense of smell through aromatherapy — and now there will be a larger focus on healing through your eyes with light, your ears with music and sound therapy, and your bodies through vibration. Multi-sensory experiences that blend touch, light, sound, smell and color will be the big sell this year.

7) The Glam Factor

“Glambition” is the new word invading spas across the world. People are looking at spas for more than just wellness, with specialty beauty spas such ‘eyes only’ and ‘wax only’ salons, and brands like Blo and Drybar — that cater specifically to blow drying and styling hair — gaining momentum.

8) Spa Evidence: Showing the Science Behind Spa

While a visit to the spa remains a luxury for many, the launch of  — a website that answers questions about the health benefits of certain spa treatments — may give a certain legitimacy to the decision to pamper yourself at the spa.

9) Spas Become a Family Affair

Spas have traditionally been for grownups only, but there is a growing demand from travellers for spas where they can bring their teens, tweens and even little ones along for treatment. Now that spas are more concerned with wellness than just outer beauty, parents are taking the opportunity to help their children learn to take better care of themselves as well. With the childhood obesity epidemic at an all time high, health and fitness coaching is a big sell for many parents.

10) Spas go for the “Wow”

Gone are the days of boring beige spas that all have the same ‘zen’ look. The trend this year is all about individuation and creating that “wow” factor for the client as soon as they walk in the door. Eye popping designs, futuristic amenities and unique details will become more of the norm.

Source: Spafinder press release

Photo © Novikov

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