A retreat into personal time and a place to rest are how many savvy spa goers are beginning to see their spa experience. With the world spinning ever more out of control, those two valuable commodities are becoming more rare and assuming even greater importance.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress levels have increased logarithmically in the last six months. In the face of that it is imperative we find better ways to manage stress or more than our portfolios will suffer.
Chronic, unresolved stress weakens the immune system, increases our susceptibility to infections, and even contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Stress also turns on genes that trigger disease, accelerate aging, and lead to depression.
Card-carrying members of Generation X and Y as well as aging Baby Boomers are finding out they don’t need more “stuff,” more things to clutter their lives, but they do need help in carving out precious moments of time.
It is this very situation, however, that has made the spa industry less reactive to the current economic times than most people might think. More and more knowledgeable spas are beginning to see stress management as an important part of their treatments and are beginning to provide an environment that is conducive to self-care and deep rest. Even in one hour, spa-goers are made to feel better, are reminded to breathe deeply, and provided with useful and easily practiced tools to achieve a state of inner peace at home.
In this environment, forward-looking spas have an opportunity to become learning centers for stress reduction where the staff can teach do-it-yourself relaxation responses, breath work, meditation, and mindfulness-based-stress-reduction.
Lory Plaster, Spa Director at Hyatt Grand Champions’s Agua Serena Spa in Indian Wells, has a background in both massage therapy and meditation. She has been quick to incorporate meditation classes into her already stress-busting programs of Pilates and Yoga. “This is an area that was always known for the quality of its spas. We are seeing more and more locals taking advantage of our proximity and of our tie in with local Native American traditions. Best of all, locals can enjoy the experience without busting their budget.”
Interestingly enough, Susie Ellis, publisher of SpaFinder magazine and a highly-regarded spa trend analyst recently listed medical spas in her “Top 10 Spa Trends to Watch in 2009.” “One clear macro trend is emerging:” she writes, “the interweaving of medicine and spas in unprecedented ways, with spas poised to increase their roles in wellness and healthcare…”
Later on in her report she goes on to say: “…watch for the line between spas, medical spas…to become ever more creatively blended…the spa-medicine relationship has never been richer or stronger.”
With overcrowded medical offices and doctors less inclined than ever to spend quality time with their patients, patients are re-evaluating sickness-based western healthcare models and increasingly turning to preventive medicine and more thoughtful traditional medicine. Interest in alternative and complementary medicine is growing. There is even a widening trend toward medical tourism—traveling to places where healthcare is more effective and less expensive.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in aesthetic medicine. Performing non-invasive, aesthetic treatments which have been shown to have life-changing and stress-reducing qualities in a setting both restful and relaxing is nothing less than a natural synergy. The result has been the forging of a very strong bond between medical spas and aesthetic medicine.
Richard M. Foxx, MD, Founder and Medical Director of The Medical and Skin Spa in Indian Wells, was on the leading edge of this wave when he opened his office in Hyatt Grand Champions’ Agua Serena Spa almost six years ago. “I knew patients wanted an environment where they could have meaningful, effective, and yet restrained aesthetic medical enhancement treatments and leave refreshed and renewed. I’m really gratified that patients have responded to that so enthusiastically.”
Although Doctor Foxx has always successfully integrated the principles of age management medicine with aesthetic medicine in a spa setting he has recently encountered an increased demand for those services. His background as a board certified gynecologist and gynecological endocrinologist has served him in good stead in being able to help Baby Boomers understand the place of hormone balancing in age management.
It all has come full circle, according to Doctor Foxx. Beauty starts on the inside, and looking good has a bearing on how you feel. “That’s why I trademarked the phrase ‘Health and Beauty, Inside and Out’ more than six years ago,” reflects Doctor Foxx.