By Vicki Hogue-Davies
The global spa industry has changed radically over the past decade. While trends are often short-lived, other movements seem poised to have a lasting impact. For instance, the one-size-fits-all treatments of the past are now giving way to more customized care, and exotic ingredients are being replaced with locally sourced alternatives that provide a sense of place.
“Things were … more generic 10 years ago,” says Beth McGroarty, director of research for the Global Wellness Institute and Spafinder Wellness. She compares the increasing popularity of incorporating local ingredients in spa treatments to the farm-to-table movement that has transformed the restaurant business. “People are obsessed with authenticity and what is local all over the world … [things] such as ingredients in treatments, or indigenous experiences, are one of the megatrends. If you are in Canada, you might have a maple sugar scrub, or if you are in California, they might do sea salts. It is about trying to be more authentic to the place [where] you are.”
This move toward individualization and localization can also be seen at Sea Island. Botanical Gomage and Gifts from the Sea were just a couple of the colorful treatments listed on The Spa at Sea Island’s menu 10 years ago. Today, the spa emphasizes effectiveness and personalization.
“Back then, there were a lot of body polishes, dry brushing and body treatments,” says Ella Stimpson, director of spa, fitness and racquet sports at Sea Island. “Half the collection was focused on something in addition to massage, so you had massage and some kind of body treatment whipped in. It became very complicated. What we have found through the years is most people just want a really good, customized massage.”
Stimpson is especially fond of the spa’s new All the Right Moves massage. “… [It] combines Thai massage, which feels good, with beautiful, long Hawaiian Lomi Lomi strokes that mimic the waves on the ocean, and then a Swedish or deep tissue [massage] depending on what your body needs.”
Advancements in technology and modern insight into skin health have also led to more effective approaches. At The Spa at
Sea Island, the new HydraFacial MD® uses a patented Vortex Fusion system to perform corrective treatments on all complexion types. The process uses hyaluronic acid and peptides to cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate and extract via a hydradermabrasion service, combating concerns such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Other enhancements such as LED light therapy can also be added to the treatment, depending on the individual’s specific skin needs.
Spa-goer demographics are also shifting; as a result, treatments that are specifically tailored to men, teens and even children are now readily available due to the increased popularity of spa treatments among those groups. The Spa at Sea Island offers a Swedish massage for teenagers and the Heavy Hitter massage for men, among other options.
Other changes that both Stimpson and McGroarty note are the addition of other types of health and wellness programming, such as cooking classes, outdoor activities and alternative therapies. For instance, The Spa at Sea Island now offers cryotherapy; Stimpson says it is the first resort spa in the country to do so. The practice is similar to taking a short, intense ice bath after physical activity, and can offer benefits such as faster muscle recovery.
Ultimately, today’s spa visit is about relaxing and enjoying the experience.
“People want to have fun on vacation,” Stimpson says. “We play upbeat music and offer a bellini on arrival. We want people to come here to have fun with friends, to hang out and laugh.”