Rise of Spa
According to the International Spa Association (ISPA) 2002 Spa Industry
• There are 9,632 spas in the United States,
and approximately 1,300 spas in Canada.
• The total revenue for the spa industry more than doubled
in two years (a 114 percent increase). In 1999, total revenue
was $5 billion. In 2001, $10.7 billion.
• 51 percent of the industry revenue is from treatment rooms
and 49 percent of treatment room revenue is from massage.
•The number of spa locations is doubling every four years.
n In the past two years, the spa industry has kept pace with other
major leisure activities. Spa industry revenues have even surpassed
box office gross receipts and amusement/theme park revenues.
• 40 percent of guests are first-time spa-goers.
• 14 percent of guests are between the ages of 18 and 30,
64 percent are between the ages of 31 and 54, and 20 percent are
55 and up.
• There are nearly 300 medical spas in the United States.
From 1997 to 2002, the cumulative growth for medical spas was
• The number of spa visits increased 71 percent between
1999 and 2001.
Massage & Spa
A Healthy Combination
By Darren Buford
and spas are linked in a symbiotic relationship, profitably feeding
off one another. Bodywork is the most requested service and largest
provider of revenue for spas; consequently, spas have become the No.
1 employer of massage therapists in the United States.
But this relationship was not always so. From spa’s origins in
Egypt, Greece and Rome to its maturation period in Western Europe, massage
had very little, if anything, to do with the first spa complexes. The
primary focus, rather, was on healing through mineral-rich waters.
Today, few guests seek out spas only for those healing waters. Instead,
they gravitate to them for the services, namely massage, and peripherals
(location, treatments, etc.), which may or may not include the use of
In this issue, with the assistance of spa historian Jonathan Paul De
Vierville (“Spa Industry, Culture and Evolution,” page 20),
we retrace the history of spas, simultaneously marking the transition
from American spa as fat farm to a European system that values an integrative
approach toward health. De Vierville also asks the question: Are clients
missing the true spa experience if they neglect “taking the waters”?
Shirley Vanderbilt explores illness and preventive health measures in
her article about the growing popularity of wellness centers (“An
Ounce of Prevention,” page 34). And finally, Heather Grimshaw
discusses the growing concern about spa product ingredients and the
advent of all-natural services in “The Natural Niche” (page
no longer see spas as pampering, but instead as a requisite to stay
healthy,” says Lynne Walker McNees, executive director of the
International Spa Association (ISPA). McNees says the consumer now has
the opportunity to focus on complete health and wellness and stress
reduction under one roof. “Now a woman can have her annual physical
and, at the same time, treat herself to a relaxing massage or facial.”
Economically, statistics show that even with the current U.S. climate,
spas are continuing to attract visitors in record numbers, thanks to
the ever-increasing contingent of baby boomers concerned with anti-aging
remedies, and a rise in unlikely spa guests, such as men and adolescents
— translating, for the time being, into job security for massage
professionals and big business for spas. “The future of the spa
industry and that of massage professionals is extremely positive,”
McNees adds. “Many ISPA members are seeing record numbers of first-time
spa-goers and dramatic increases in the number of group bookings.”
The growth of spas in the United States over the past 10 years has shown
unequivocally that Americans are more aware of, and concerned about,
their health than ever before. We are making huge strides in understanding
the value of alternative healthcare in conjunction with traditional
resources. While no one can be completely certain what the future holds
for massage and spas, one thing is certain: People need the comfort
that is offered by their combined environment. McNees concurs, “The
world is different now and people are more stressed than they’ve
ever been — they are seeking places for healing and nurturing.”
Spas are those restorative sites of respite and rejuvenation. May we
all continue to seek their curative influence.
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