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Hot and healthy spa trends for 2012

india Updated: Dec 19, 2011 17:00 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

In 2012, global spas continue to focus on health and wellness with burgeoning trends such as infrared saunas, sub-zero cryotherapy, wellness coaching and online gaming, and an array of inventive vibration, music, and color therapies to soothe stress.

Last week, SpaFinder, an online spa industry news and information website, announced its analysis of spas around the world, citing some of the biggest health-centric trends we can expect to see in the coming year.

"After four tough economic years that made experimentation challenging, we are seeing the industry once again pushing the envelope with exciting ideas, delivering more wows, more fun, and quite serious wellness innovation," said SpaFinder president Susie Ellis, a contributing editor to NewBeauty magazine, in a press release.

Spa trendsNew spa trends to watch in 2012:

Focus on feet - Spas are turning their attention to troubled toes, with special treatments and classes to improve muscles in your feet and repair damage from high heels. Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas offers a comprehensive Healthy Feet program, with computerized gait analysis and treatments in zero-gravity chairs, while Yamuna's boot camps in New York City teach attendees to improve their posture and strengthen the muscles in their feet. Spa Finder adds that podiatrist-overseen Medi-pedis are Booming, such as those found at celebrity foot doctor Margaret Dabbs's London centers, or French podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez's signature pedicures at One&Only spa resorts worldwide.

Hot/cold therapies - Infrared saunas, which direct radiant heat into the body without heating the air, are gaining traction at spas around the globe, as are more extreme cold and hot/cold-contrast treatments. Every ESPA spa in the world now offers ice rubdowns after saunas, while spa-goers at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas can experience falling snow in its Arctic Ice Room. A new Snow Shower from Thermarium will hit the market soon, and for hardcore cold devotees there is cryotherapy, where you spend a few minutes in a chamber cooled to -120°C (-184°F). To get a taste, head to Canada's Sparkling Hill Resort and California's US Cryotherapy Center.

Wellness coaching - United States spas MiiAmo and Canyon Ranch offer spa coaching packages followed by post-visit consultations via phone, email, and Skype, according to the report. The trend is also hitting the beauty arena, with Clarins officially offering Beauty Coaches at its new flagship spa in Paris.

Online wellness gaming - Wellness gaming is projected to generate $2 billion in revenues by 2015, and spas aim to take their share of the pie by offering branded wellness games to their customers. "The next step is to use gaming to maintain those connections once they return home, offering daily online workouts, using sensors to track progress, and facilitating online encouragement from therapists, friends, and family," says SpaFinder.

Healthy food/spa combo packages - While fine food and spas aren't a new combination, they're being "curated, marketed, and savored together as never before," says SpaFinder. Look for Culi-spa weekends offered by San Francisco's Cavallo Point, which includes expeditions to local farmers' markets, to full-immersion packages like the Plates And Pilates retreat at Italy's Cascina Papaveri, where guests help harvest and cook food around their daily sessions. Other spas are curating spa/wine/food combinations at Auberge du Soleil in California's Napa Valley, each vinotherapy spa treatment is paired with a local wine selected by their sommelier.

Vibration, sound, music, light, and color therapies- The Spa at Woodloch in Pennsylvania offers Tibetan sound massage, which relies on singing bowls to calm frazzled nerves, while more spas are incorporating Ayurvedic medicine and correcting chakra imbalances with color therapy. Also look for new saunas, steam capsules, lounge chairs, massage tables, tubs, and experiential pods that weave light, color, sound, and music together for the ultimate sensory experience.

In the United States, Miraval Resort's new Taiz Sensorium integrates vibrational medicine, music therapy, and aromatic oils during your massage. Or look for the new Wolke 7 Cloud 9, a multisensory recliner created by Vienna artist sha, to show up in top spas soon.

Last month, The Spa Association (SPAA) also released its trends report for 2012, predicting an increase in historic wellness, quick fix treatments, and branded spa experiences. The findings reveal that North American spa-goers are embracing treatments including salt caves (breathing in salty air), peloids (using mud to treat the skin), and balneo (water) and thalasso (seawater) therapies, which have been known healing remedies around the globe for centuries.

SpaFinder, the largest spa marketing and media company in the world, was recently selected by US-based Forbes.com and USA Today as the best website for spa travel. Headquartered in New York, SpaFinder works with 9,000 spas around the world and has tracked global spa trends for nine years via industry research, surveys, data collection, and expert interviews.