From DNA repair to healing with nature

Here’s a forecast of the top spa and wellness trends for 2013

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Each year, the SpaFinder Wellness Trend Report is developed by company research analysts, led by its president Susan Ellis, leads the forecasts based on ongoing surveys with spa and wellness businesses and stakeholders around the globe, thousands of travel agents and hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Below are some of their top trend predictions for the year 2013 that will surely shape consumer experiences around the globe.

Healthy hotels. In 2013 and beyond, what constitutes a true “vacation” will be redefined and “hospitality” will be rewritten. We’ll see an explosion of new “wellness everywhere” hotel chains and environments becoming more mainstream. In the past, gyms and spas have been positioned as mere amenities, but now these walls are being conceptually (and literally) broken down.

Established hotel chains are rebranding around wellness, and it’s not just about fitness. Customized food and beverage offerings (gluten-free and vegan menus) are becoming standard fare, and hotels are jumping into the juice-themed vacation frenzy.

‘Brotox’

Men: From barbers to “Brotox.” Dramatically more men—from Beverly Hills to Berlin to Beijing—are having more serious “work” done at medispas and plastic surgery offices, as injectables, love handle remedies and advanced new surgery technologies make for little downtime and telltale scars.

Men have different needs from women when it comes to face/body enhancements, desiring subtle, not overdone results. So look for far more spas to build out comprehensive, for-men “beauty” menus—male waxing and threading services and man-geared cosmetic procedures.

The Mindfulness Massage. A creative blend of two effective approaches, mindfulness and bodywork, the Mindfulness Massage is a more profound experience that can help people relax more deeply and quickly. Rather than lying on the massage table with a mind full of chatter from the stresses of the day, the Mindfulness Massage uses breathwork and techniques such as “body scans,” where attention is brought to every part of the body and the action of the therapists’ hands.

This two-way symphony directed by a therapist who understands mindfulness offers guidance on how to take the massage to a new “mindful” level.

Earthing. As modern-day humans become more cut off from nature, “earthing” specifically refers to the movement promoting direct contact with the earth’s electron-rich surface (walking barefoot).

The premise is that “grounding” the body to the earth’s surface stabilizes natural electrical rhythms and reduces disease-causing inflammation. While we expect to see more of this formal “earthing” at spas, we expect to see far more “nature grounding” in a wider sense. Think less background music with nature sounds and more real nature to help combat “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Predictive medicine

Spa-genomics, telomeres and beyond. Humans have 30,000 genes and a three-billion-letter DNA code. The future of medicine is mining this information to identify breakthrough approaches to support a new age of predictive, personalized medicine grounded in each person’s unique genetic profile.

The power of direct-to-consumer genomic testing lies in the potential to pinpoint which diseases/issues could be forestalled by specific lifestyle changes.

It’s easy to see how the spa industry is a natural beneficiary of this development, but perhaps no genomic breakthrough holds more profound implications for the spa industry than telomeres,  the only malleable part of DNA, which some studies are showing can be repaired by stress reduction, exercise, sleep, healthier food and meditation.

Authentic Ayurveda and other ancient revivals. Expect more aggressively authentic and comprehensively executed global wellness experiences at spas with a distinctly ancient look, feel and language—and a far more expansive, exotic menu of wellness traditions. Best known is the 3,500-year-old, Indian-born Ayurveda, a complex medical system identifying imbalances in a person’s “doshas,” and prescribing a personalized, detoxifying regimes of diet change, exercise, meditation, massage and herbal medicine.

But, we’ll also see more emphasis on the traditional Turkish and Roman baths, more traditional Russian banyas (with their birch twig-thwacking venik experiences) and novel  healing traditions—some in spaces with unique, “ancient-hip” designs.

Label-conscious fitness. The “name-brand” fitness wave has been around for decades. But today, as the fitness market expands as quickly as the world’s waistlines, an explosion of “fitness labels” distinguishes products and programs—and serves as a shortcut for instant recognition in an oversaturated market full of similar choices.

From Yogalates and Piloxing to CrossFit and The Skinny Jeans Workout, health and wellness have become the new luxury. Millions chase the “insider elite,” giving the fitness world a distinct fashion world vibe, where consumers shop for the latest fitness craze just as they search for the newest designer purse.

It is fairly obvious, particularly to true-blooded spaholics, just how far the industry and consumer expectations have evolved—from luxurious pampering experiences to more personalized, functional health and wellness.

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