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I’m Spa-tacus! No, I’m Spa-tacus, and other Spa Industry Trends

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.40.03 PMDo you think the spa industry is growing, staying level, or declining as we enter 2015? For those of you who would enjoy some kind of spa treatment — and who wouldn’t, frankly? — spa and resort trends offer interesting insights into the direction our wellness culture is taking us.

We Feel So Spa-ritual!

Alexandra and I just returned from presenting at the second Tenaya Spa Wellness Retreat. We also presented at their first event, which we summarized in this post. We may not die with a lot of stuff, but we sure are rich in experiences! For one, who would have thought the gateway to Yosemite would be hiking-sandal weather and nearly snowless in mid-January? For another, who knew that smoked sturgeon tasted delicious when braised in tea?

Top Trends in the Spa Industry

Anyway, we drove up through sun, drought, and beautiful pine trees to offer two workouts: Drums Alive and ABC: Abs, Butt, Core and two workshops: Most Common Exercises Done Right and Wrong and 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Brain Today. As presenters, we had the privilege to take part in the entire retreat. That included hearing American Spa magazine editor, publisher, and keynote speaker, Julie Keller Callaghan speak on Top Trends in the spa world.

Job Seekers Apply Here

Ascent Spa and Alexandra

Alexandra heard of the trend toward indigenous ingredients and started hunting for elderberries. Turns out they were in her bra.

One of the key points Julie made is that the spa industry is growing. No, make that Exploding. Faster than a hot flash in the middle of a public presentation.  As in, if you know people needing career direction, steer them to a resort. It’s not solely baby boomers driving the growth. Just as many people (mostly women, no shocker there) ages 30-50 are going to spas as those 50-70.

Special Can Mean Affordable

I was actually surprised, because, seriously — who has the money to head to spas so often? How can a luxury industry be taking over the wellness world? Turns out one of the trends is what Julie calls “Specialty Solutions,” which are affordable, specific indulgences. If you want just your lashes, hair, or skin treated, you can now find “beauty bars” and express services at mainstream rates, for example. As well, bigger, more expensive spas are branching into shortened and price conscious versions of their traditional offerings. You can now find 3 day or weekend deals at resorts that once were weekly only.

Luxury to Mainstream

tree view at Tenaya Spa

Look up. Look way up. Lie down. Lie way down. Close your eyes and go to sleep instead of taking pictures of squirrels.

Another trend is that the industry is shifting from being considered a luxury to a necessity. More and more of us are heading to the mountains, beaches, jungles, and forests to de-stress, rejuvenate, and catch up on rest. Just as having a personal trainer shifted in the late 90s from the domain of the rich and famous to mainstream middle class clients, so too is the concept of heading to the spa. Because I neeeeeed it!

You Are Feeling Sleepy

A trend Julie coined “Deep Sleep” highlights a solution spa professionals are creating for the 70 million chronically sleep deprived Americans. From having sleep experts on staff to meals devised to enhance relaxation to dream inducing treatments, spas are addressing sleep needs to keep us well and healthy. Budget minded sleepyheads can now nap in special “cabins” that have customizable aromatherapy and sound settings. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzone out for 20-40 minutes for $1 a minute you catnappers!

Soapmaking class at Tenaya Spa

Kymberly was asked to wear a face mask when she was discovered trying to eat the peppermint-scented Tioga Soap.

Get Real, Be Authentic

While American Spa’s editor, Julie covered 10 key trends, I will share just one more big one here: “Keeping It Real.” Spa goers seek authenticity. They — you?– crave experiences unique to a given location. Spas attract guests with ingredients and services indigenous to the region. The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is right on top of that trend with its treatments. Many of the soaps, skin care products, oils, and scents they use come from local sources.

I did professional research on their authenticity by booking their “Half Dome (half hour) Hiker’s Delight lower leg massage. It was real all right. So real I went for a brief hike afterward just to test out the full foot effect. Worth it for sure! My feet felt so good I could have gone up Half Dome. (Ok, my knees did not work in harmony with this idea). So back I went to the Ascent Spa for my “thank you for presenting gift” of their Signature Firefall Body Treatment, which pays homage to the Yosemite historic firefall when parkgoers used to throw fires over the waterfall.  A little dangerous, but I am on board to be a trendsetter for that spa treatment!

Outdoors at Tenaya

Is is just us, or is that tree leaning over to hear us whisper the latest spa trends?

And we hope such delight lies in your future and budget. If you have been to spas lately, what trends are you spotting? Which trends do you HOPE kick in so you can take advantage of this booming industry? As for my sister and me, we hope our trend of presenting and teaching at such glorious places continues into the future. I want to be Spa-tacus. Yes, I’m Spa-tacus!

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I Spa. Do You? A Visit to the International Spa Association Media Event at the Beverly Wilshire

Alexandra Williams, MA

ISPA MEDIA invitationSis and I drove to Beverly Hills last Thursday as invited guests of the ISPA Media Event on behalf of the International Spa Association. Twelve different spas were in attendance, offering a variety of treatments and products to us lucky media people. Since many of you have asked us for spa recommendations, we thought we’d share our experiences and info about the companies that were there.

First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!

picture of lavender honey muffins

Lavender Honey Muffins

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.

I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.

picture of Sheila Cluff, owner of Oaks at Ojai

Sheila Cluff, owner of The Oaks at Ojai


At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).

Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.

Travaasa bike at ISPA Media event

Smooth Ride = Smoothie

New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.

pic of sacred waters massage at ISPA Media event

Sacred Waters Massage from Aspira Spa




Join us this Wed. June 11, when we welcome Dr. John Ratey, bestselling author of Driven to Distraction and Spark, to discuss his new release Go Wild. Listen and call in at 8:00 am PDT/ 11:00 am EDT or catch the rebroadcast at 8pm PDT the same date at Voice America. He’s just one of many stellar guests on our radio show.


Alternative Thursdays and Health Choices: Read All About It!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit readers, movers, shakers, and occasional barca-Loungers: So many of you (and we’re not even counting our mom here) have asked us to tell you our opinion of products, services and stuff you should and should not buy to get into the Buff Zone.  Starting today, we launch our Products, People, Services series. Monday posts are still devoted to answering your fitness questions. Thursdays are for reviews and inspirational stories (email us if you have one to share).  We do not accept money for any reviews but we do get some of the products and services free. If you have a question about a fitness purchase, send it in! We hope someone asks us to review a week at Rancho la Puerta spa so we can do up close and personal research! So far we are reading books, watching DVDs, and trying out exercises.

The Alternative Medicine Cabinet

I’m Taking Charge, Baby

Alexandra: We recently read the book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet by Kathy Gruver. Before I comment on the book, let me just say that Kathy has her doctorate in traditional naturopathy, plus about 4 other titles. In other words, she be all qualified and suchlike.

Kymberly; We also want to disclose that we know her personally (lucky her, eh?!) and that she is a friend of ours–which could all end now that we are totally unbiased, impartial, unbribable, trustworthy reviewers.

A: Wait a second. I’m totally open to bribes. At first I wondered if this book was going to be what I sometimes refer to as “a co-op book,” meaning full of suggestions to eat stuff I can’t pronounce or can’t imagine eating (disclaimer: I belong to a co-op). In actuality, it is a book that gives information on various non-pharmaceutical, non- invasive ways to improve your own health, with practical advice about treating depression, improving your sleep, using alternative cancer treatments and lots more. My favorite parts were the definitions of the different types of massage, homeopathy, Reiki and medicinal herbs, and the top 10 nutrition picks. And I’ve always wanted an excuse to use the word “tincture” because it’s such a fun word. There are several places where exercise is touted as a medicine so of course I’m going to love this book! Take 2 push-ups and call yourself in the morning.

Concoct me some herbs

You say tinctures, I say concoctions – who cares if there’s red wine?


K: What readers of this book will like are its short, self-contained chapters, conversational tone, and down to earth suggestions. What lovers of great grammar will need is an alternative medicine for the many proofreading and grammar errors.  (Read the book to get suggestions for headaches and stress!)  Good thing the author is an expert in alternative wellness, not editing. Note to author: hire my sis next time. She a reeel fine editore.

Here Reiki Reiki Reiki

Your purr works just fine


A: I’m giving this book my “headlights up” because it’s comprehensive, informative, well-researched and organized. Um, and mostly because I was able to read it while working out on the treadmill. Actually, I liked it because Gruver doesn’t preach or try to make me grow out my leg hairs and live on a farm; she just shares information that is exceptionally well-documented (I love to have references, but maybe I’m just suspicious). I won’t be trying all the suggestions or concoctions, but luckily that isn’t the point–the point is to get you thinking about your health from a “take charge” perspective that considers and accepts the connection between the mind and the body. As a matter of fact, I just gave my body a salad so that my mind would be proud of myself!

K: When did you get headlights up, Alexandra? Your mind is lying to your body or something like that. I am giving this book a level 4 out of 5 on the Incline Setting. (And yes, I can think of some popular products that get a -4 on the Decline Setting!) Quick read, chock full of easy to implement changes that will help, and gosh darn, we simply like the author and her message.


Photo credits: Creative Commons

Readers: What are some products or services you are wondering about? If you need ideas, watch any insta-fitness infomercial.