BACK on Track

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | September 27, 2013

2012 spa visits rebounded to levels not seen since 2008

Americans like to be pampered. They like it so much, in fact, that the key indicators spa operators follow—including visits and revenues—rose last year, even with a less than stellar economy and high unemployment numbers.

According to the 2013 US Spa Industry Study released by the International Spa Association (ISPA), for the first time since 2008, each of the “Big Five” stats rose in 2012. The number of spa locations showed a modest increase, rising 0.5% from 19,850 in 2011 to 19,960 in 2012. Total spa industry revenues rose 4.7% with the average revenue per spa increasing 4.1% and revenue per visit up 1.8%.  In addition, the total number of visits to spa establishments is estimated to have risen to 160 million in 2012 from 156 million the year before. That 2.8% increase is especially significant in that it marked a return to levels not seen since 2008.

“This year’s annual US study paints a very positive picture for the spa industry and reflects what we are hearing from our members. It is encouraging to see the total number of spa visits back at its pre-recession peak and even more encouraging to see total spa industry revenue reach a record high $14 billion,” said ISPA president Lynne McNees.

According to Tracie Ridder Wertz, a spa industry expert and founder and CEO of à la mode, a Chicago-based consultancy that offers a single-source solution for spa buyers, themes in spa products mirror that of the larger personal care/beauty space.
“The requests we are hearing and trends we are seeing include things like Fair Trade, sustainability and social responsibility, products that are made in the US, organic/natural and chemical-free and the use of hand-held devices,” she told Happi.

Where the Brands Are
The spa sector is an attractive market for big names in the personal care industry, and major brands continue to sign on as lead players at high-profile spa locations.

The newly launched Aqua Star Spa at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, for instance, is now the first Babor branded beauty spa in the US. The move is an expansion of the pair’s relationship that began in May 2012 when the spa introduced Babor as its premier skin care line.

“This partnership with Babor is going to take the spa experience at The Beverly Hilton to the next level,” said Lyndi Heus, spa director of Aqua Star Spa. “We are excited for our guests to experience the refreshed full-service spa, and we’re honored to be the first US location for the Babor Beauty Spa concept.”

The spa has been redesigned to include architectural elements of other Babor Beauty Spas that can be found in more than a hundred locations around the world. Offering a wide range of services, the Aqua Star Babor Beauty Spa includes an exclusive signature treatment called the “Red Carpet Ready Facial.” This $195, 80-minute treatment begins with a heated stone aromatherapy oil introduction on the back followed by a luxurious facial with Babor Beauty Fluids, which are penetrated into the skin with the use of micro current technology.

In addition to facials, body treatments and massages, the Aqua Star Babor Beauty Spa menu will also offer treatments using the company’s Baborganic organic skin care range as well as Doctor Babor (its luxury cosmeceutical brand) and Babor Men.
Having hosted more than a quarter of a million guests since its opening in 1995, Miraval, Tucson, AZ, has become a top-rated destination spa in the US. Unveiled in mid-2012, the spa’s new “Life in Balance Spa with Clarins” is designed to transform guests “both physically and emotionally using nurture, rest and renewal.”  The menu of exclusive Clarins treatments feature the brand’s Pro Formula products.

“The guests at Miraval are savvy spa consumers seeking the highest quality treatments in the unique environment. Clarins’ collaboration with Miraval honors our spa heritage, unique massage techniques and innovative products. It is a partnership of excellence between two companies who share the same philosophy of total well-being and unparalleled service,” Christian Courtin-Clarins, chairman of Clarins Group Supervisory Board, said in a press statement when the new spa opened its doors.

At Jurlique Flagship spas (New York, Santa Monica and San Francisco), guests can pick the Signature Revitalizing Facial, which features the brand’s new Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum. Evolved from the original Herbal Recovery Gel—a cult-favorite formula launched 20 years ago—the serum revitalizes, recovers and protects to leave skin more radiant, smooth and healthy via a potent blend of fortifying, youth-defending herbal extracts.  Specifically, it relies on Naturadiance PB18, which combines 15 botanicals with three “breakthrough” natural ingredients: Persian silk tree to strengthen skin cell capacity and shield against environmental stress; Whu-Zhu-Yu to boost microcirculation and smooth skin; and peach leaf to recover skin vitality and promote cellular regeneration.

While many top spas are destinations, Virgin Atlantic offers spa services for travelers who are still en-route. The spa at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Airport in New York—a first for a Virgin clubhouse stateside—offers travelers treatments from Dr. Hauschka-trained therapists, as well as blowouts and hair styling using Bumble & bumble salon products.

Keeping It Local
In addition to well-known brand name products, spa operators are taking a cue from the farm to table movement. Many have developed treatments and experiences that tap into the flora of their surroundings.

The Aspira Spa at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI offers treatments that incorporate flowers that grow throughout the property. Guests staying at the Sorrel River Ranch & Spa can book the Garden Glow Facial Massage, a treatment made up of extra virgin olive oil infused with basil and chamomile harvested from the ranch’s own garden in Utah. And Maine sea salt exfoliates the skin during the mineral wrap treatment at the White Barn Inn in Kennebunnk, ME.

At the Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY—which was carved into a natural glacier-formed stone bluff overlooking Lake Mohonk—guests can book the signature “Shawangunk Grit” Mineral Body Treatment, which uses fine quartz grains quarried from the surrounding cliffs.

Another service with local flair is the “Mohonk Red” Massage, which was created in honor of the red witch hazel that grows naturally on the property, which is just 90 miles from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Family-owned and operated since 1869, Mohonk has more than a century of expertise in dealing with stressed city dwellers who sweep in for weekend of unwinding. To that end, the spa has new created new “Solutions for Modern Living” spa treatments, such as “Attainable Sleep,” a 90-minute service that features pure organic essential oil blends (organic lavandin, clary sage, bergamot and rosewood) from H. Gillerman, coupled with a massage and sea salt bath soak to help prepare the body and mind for sleep and keep vital body rhythms in balance.

In addition, the “Texting Tension Tamer: a massage for Multitaskers,” provides hands and forearms extra special treatment complemented by an organic vanilla crème.

Queen (or King) for a Day
The day spa sector is also faring well—benefitting from an increase in the number of doors and, quite possibly, from cost-cutting measures taken by some Americas who still want to be pampered but might be too strapped for cash for a destination trip.
According to IBIS World’s May 2012 Day Spa & Nail Salon Franchises in the US report, the day spa and nail salons franchises industry has grown at an average annual rate of 1.2% to an estimated $1.5 billion at the close of 2012.

Massage Envy Spa is the clear leader in the space. Established in 2002, the Scottsdale-based company holds a 65.7% share of the market, according to IBIS World, and boasts more than 860 locations in 47 US states. Over a five-year span through 2012, IBIS World estimates that Massage Envy’s revenue has grown at an average annual rate of 51.8%, hitting $991.7 million.

This August, Massage Envy Spa reached a major milestone: its two millionth facial.

According to Cindy Dorfner, director of public relations for Massage Envy Spa, “performing our two millionth facial is a true testament to the growth of our facial business, and we’re excited to continue to help our customers look and feel their best.”

Massage Envy Spa has an exclusive partnership with skin care expert Dr. Howard Murad. It’s a valued relationship for the company—and might be one that has other skin care brands wishing “if only.”

“When we first started to explore adding facials, there weren’t many skincare companies interested in partnering with us because of our pricing, ” CG Funk, VP of industry relations and product development at Massage Envy Spa, told Happi in a phone interview. “Murad saw our vision.”

At Massage Envy Spas, guests can chose from four different facials, including Environmental Shield Vitamin C, Clarifying Enzyme Acne, Anti-Aging and Sensitive Skin treatments, all designed by Dr. Murad. Massage Envy Spa also recently added four exclusive Murad Healthy Skin Regimen Kits, which customers can purchase inside the clinic. Each is designed to offer a complete topical solution to resolve common skin issues and concerns.

But it’s not just bodies and faces getting extra TLC these days at Massage Envy Spa. A recent addition is Sugar Foot Scrub Therapy, a treatment that can be added to any massage session for $10 as part of Massage Envy’s Enhanced Therapies menu.

According to Funk, Massage Envy Spa partnered with Bon Vital to create the exclusive scrub, which combines fortified sugar with jojoba, olive and safflower oils, as well as lavender essential oil. It also features extra fine sugar granules and less oil than a typical sugar foot scrub, allowing for easier absorption into the skin, according to the company. Following the sugar scrub, a whipped Bon Vital Body Butter (blended with cocoa butter, shea butter, beeswax and lavender oil) is applied to add a hydrating protective layer.

Massage Envy Spa is always looking for hot trends in the space, said Funk, but it takes a cautious approach when introducing a new service—researching products, designing the protocol, testing in a mock clinic at the corporate office, alpha testing for 3-6 months and then rolling out beta tests at 30-100 doors. Tenets, according to Funk, are therapeutic value, cost per service, brand consistency, standardization, and of course, safety.

After all, Massage Envy Spa gets up close and personal on a grand scale.

“We do 54,000 services a day,” said Funk. “We need to think of the masses.”