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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.


3 Ways to Perfect Your Posture: Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat is One

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Disclosure: In our capacity as fitness experts, we are being compensated for the events mentioned below. We don’t make any money if you join us; you just get great advice and a fabulous experience with two service-oriented companies – Tenaya Lodge and Sherpa.
Good Posture vs Bad Posture

Good Posture vs Bad Posture

In our previous post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, you discovered some of the benefits of good posture. Today you get tips on ways you can find and maintain good alignment. Plus we want to extend invitations to our west coast readers who are eager to revel in better health and happier bodies. (Hint – treat yourself to a spa weekend at the Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat in late March).

Kymberly: First up – Pretty Posture Pointers

  • Stand with your back to a wall. Do your shoulder blades, buttocks and heels touch the wall? Evenly?
  • Stay at that wall to do some of your exercises (such as bicep curls or forward raises) with your back and shoulders against it. Focus on whether you can maintain contact with good spinal alignment. You will easily notice coming out of alignment if you fall forward off the wall.
  • Do only back and downward shoulder rolls. Skip up and forward rolls. Why roll the shoulders up and forward when they are most likely already in that tense and hunched position?
  • When you are sitting in a chair, scoot your hips as far back in the chair as possible. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Even better, sit on a stability ball instead of a chair or stool.
  • When sitting on a hard surface, center your weight over the front edge of your “sitz bones” (ischial tuberosities) and imagine wiggle wagging your tailbone into the correct position.
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to lengthen into good posture, stand up, walk around, and reestablish alignment. Name the timer “mom” and let yourself be nagged, er reminded.
    Stop! In the Name of Posture

    Stop! In the Name of Posture

  • Implement my famous “Zip trick” Imagine a zipper that runs from your pubic bone to your chin. Zip up. Then (here’s the important part) imagine a second zipper that runs from the base of your neck to your tailbone. Zip DOWN right between the shoulder blades. Watch our Posture Zip Trick video.
  • Strengthen your back muscles.
  • Strengthen your core. Yes, we know these last two constitute more than “tips.” But what discussion on posture would be complete without mentioning the real, long term criteria to achieve beautiful alignment?

Alexandra: Posture Assessments at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite

I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.

Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to a super duper event, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

At the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, 2014 we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care.  Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.

Now THAT'S a scenic hike!

Now THAT’S a scenic hike!

Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and

“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”

When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.

Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge