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Health & Families

Healthy spa trends for 2011: salt therapy, Asian techniques, 15-minute treatments

In 2011, spas continue to focus on health, wellness, and stress-release with burgeoning trends such as salt rooms for skin and breathing illnesses, more on-staff medical professionals for the aging population, and quick spa treatments for harried clients.

In December, SpaFinder, an online spa industry news and information website, announced their analysis of spas around the world, citing some of the biggest trends we can expect to see in the coming year.

1. More treatments for seniors: Spas such as Canyon Ranch in the US and Old Course Hotel and Spa in St Andrews in the UK are tailoring their offerings for the growing boomer population with on-staff medical professionals, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and osteopaths. Also expect to see more thermal bathing for stiff joints this year.

2. All about Asia: Trends such as yoga, Thai massage, Ayurvedic medicine, and acupuncture will continue to thrive this year, with many spas creating a "zen" experience in decor and attitude. Plus look for more trends as the luxury hotel/spa marketplace expands in China and India. Starwood Hotels & Resorts has more than 60 hotels in China and 86 in the pipeline, while the Marriott International plans 89 new hotels in India by 2015, and this growth will undoubtedly influence the industry.

3. Salt caves and salt rooms: Halotherapy, a healing tradition that involves basking in a salt cave, may be centuries old, but it is the hottest new trend of 2011. The technique claims to benefit the skin and cure respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Look for hyper-modern rooms made of sea salt blocks in such spas as the Salt Cave in London and Kent, Salt Therapy Spa in Dublin, and HaloAir Salt Rooms in New York.
4. The spa franchise: Seeking consistency in your spa treatments? This year expect to see a growth in spa brands and franchises such as urban-chic Bliss, Exhale, and Six Senses spas, or the lavish Mandarin Oriental. Other popular spa franchises: Chevana, Champneys, Dove Spas, Sanctuary, and Spa L'Occitane.

5. Spa in a minute: In a rush? More spas are adding a suite of 15- to 30-minute spa treatments, designed to be performed simultaneously by multiple therapists, to their menus. Also, opening hours are extending to meet demand: Many Las Vegas spas open their doors at 5:30 or 6 a.m., while some London spas stay open till 2 a.m. 

6. Wacky treatments: Yoga or healthy cooking classes at spas are nothing new, but now spas are getting creative: expect to see a range of novelty additions this year, such as trapeze therapy, jewelry-making classes, or chocolate spa treatments.

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 eight years via industry research, surveys, data collection, and expert interviews.

Read the full report here: