Spa-tacular trends

A visitor has her nails decorated at a salon on the sidelines of the third day of Lakme Fashion...

A visitor has her nails decorated at a salon on the sidelines of the third day of Lakme Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010 in Mumbai on September 20, 2009. (AFP PHOTO/Indranil MUKHERJEE)

ROBIN ROBINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:53 PM ET

Instead of Botox injections or fish pedicures, in 2012, spa-goers may head to "amusement park" spas, request "snow showers," or opt for wellness "coaching."

These are among the new ideas in the recently released Spa Trend Report, which pin-points innovations in the industry. The annual report is based on visits to hundreds of spas and wellness centres by SpaFinder's research team, along with interviews of industry leaders.

"After four tough economic years that made experimentation challenging, we are seeing the industry once again pushing the envelope with exciting ideas, delivering more wows, more fun, and quite serious wellness innovation," said SpaFinder President Susie Ellis, who heads up the report.

SpaFinder's top trends for 2012 include:

TREAT YOUR FEET

Perhaps our aging demographic - is behind the leading lead-for trend -- treatments for "troubled tootsies," which are popping up everywhere.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas has a "Healthy Feet" program with gait analeatna's analysis and zero-gravity treatment chairs, while Yamuna's New York City boot-camps teach people to improve posmusc posture and strengthen foot muscles.

There are foot-focused sed "med-spas" such as California's liforwhich Stride Wellbeing, which combines medical care with pampering. And "medi-pedis" developed by podiatrists, such as those at celebrity foot doctor Margaret Dabbs' centres in London, or famed French foot expert Bastien Gonzalez' pedicures at One&Only resorts.

CHILL OUT

Cold treatments -- ice chambers, snow showers and ice rubdowns--boost circulation and reduce inflammation in muscles and joints. (Might be a hard-sell to Canadians but Scandinavians have long alternated between a warm sauna and a bracing roll in the snow or dip in a cold lake.)

ESPAs now offer ice-rubdowns after saunas, while spagoers at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas can experience falling snow in the Arctic Ice Room. A new Snow Shower by Thermarium will hit spas soon, and for hardcore chill-seekers there's cryotherapy, where you spend a few minutes in a chamber cooled to -120 C. It's a highlight at B.C.'s Sparkling Hill Resort and California's U.S. Cryotherapy centre.

COACHING

Health coach. Sleep coach. Eyebrow coach. Post-treatment ment wellness and beauty coaching allows patrons to stay in touch with practitioners in distant locations, making it easier to adhere to healthy lifestyle changes made during a holiday.

U.S. destination spas like Mii amo and Canyon Ranch have packages for follow-up coaching by phone, e-mail-- even Skype. The trend has also hit the beauty business, with Clarins providing "beauty coaches" at its new flagship spa in Paris.

SPA, WINE AND DINE DEALS

Think of this as "healthy hedonism," with new packages that combine spa treatments with good-for-you dining and wine pairing.

These include "culi-spa" weekends at San Francisco's Cavallo Point, which feature excursions to local farmers' markets, and packages like the "Plates and Pilates" retreat at Italy's Cascina Papaveri, where guests harvest and cook their own food. In California's Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil has vinotherapy treatments with local wine selected by their sommelier.

GOOD VIBRATIONS

Music has long been recognized as theraputic. In 2012, look for treatments that include vibration, sound, light, colour and music to fully engage all the senses.

Pennsylvania's Spa at Woodloch has Tibetan sound massage, which balances the body with vibrations from singing bowls. And more spas are adopting Ayurvedic techniques to correct chakra imbalances with colour therapy.

Other approaches include new saunas, steam capsules, lounge chairs, massage tables, tubs and experiential pods that weave light, colour, sound and music together for multisensory bliss.

At Miraval Resorts U.S. properties, the new Taiz Sensorium integrates vibration, music, base rhythms and elemental sounds from nature.

THE GLAM FACTOR

Quick and budget friendly beauty fixes like 10-minute manicures at airport salons, blow-dry bars, and walk-in makeovers are big.

"Blingy beauty" is hot, too, from flashy manicures with Swarovski crystals or holograms at Manhattan's Spa Martier, to "creative" hair: Intricate braids, feathers, crystals and colourful extensions.

Guerlain Spa at NYC's Waldorf Astoria has relaunched with a '50s glamour sensibility. It ends each treatment with a complimentary makeup application or pressing service that sends guests away looking like they stepped off the page of a fashion mag.

Toronto's Quartz Crystal Spa, opening Jan. 31 at Trump International, takes glamour a step further with ultra-lux interiors reminiscent of vintage Hollywood.

FAMILY TIME

Spas are becoming family friendly with more facilities and treatments for the under-18 set.

Spa parties, big with brides-to-be, now come in kid-friendly versions, while kid-specific day spas, such as Connecticut's Sundae Spa, include playfully named treatments like "ice-cream pedicures" and "starfish sparkle manicures."

The Omni Houston Galleria has kids' spa packages, and Nickelodeon Suites in Orlando has a children's spa. Germany's Schloss Elmau and Disney's new Aulani resort in Hawaii not only have spas designed for kids and teens but also baby-massage classes for parents, and other family oriented services.

THE "WOW" FACTOR

Increasingly, spas are going for the "wow" factor -- from amusement and water park spas to Swarovski crystal spas.

Big wows include celebrity partnerships (Richard Branson speaking at Six Senses, Thailand; Mariel Hemingway serving as spokesperson for SpaFinder Wellness Week), futuristic designs like Milan's bubble-themed Atomic Spa Suisse, or the treehouse concept at the Cocoon Spa at Indigo Pearl Phuket.

Small wows include amenities like the WaveMotion rocking massage table at Mii amo, which makes clients feel like they're floating.

A new species of "amusement park" spas are catching on around the world.

In Estonia, the Kayley Sauna and Water Park features tube slides, bubble baths and every type of sauna imaginable. New York City's Spa Castle is five storeys of fun -- internationally themed saunas, steam baths and swimming areas plus a food court.


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